Is Now a Good Time to Sell a Business?

As a business broker in Toronto, Canada, I have noticed a real increase in the number of qualified business purchasers in the last few weeks. This is attributed to a variety of factors that make the current period a unique opportunity for business owners looking for an exit to sell their businesses. These factors either increase demand for businesses or decrease the supply of companies available for sale. In both cases they favor potential business sellers.

1. Interest rates are currently historically low. Business valuations are very sensitive to interest rates just like any other capital assets. Lower interest rates increase affordability and increase demand for businesses. Supply of businesses for sale on the other side decreases because some business buyers will be attracted to the higher return debt markets. There is a consensus that interest rates might increase in the near future, which makes today a real opportunity for business sellers.

2. A large number of unemployed skilled workers are looking for job replacement opportunities. The number of corporate layoffs has risen dramatically in the US and Canada in the previous few months. Laid-off employees have hard time finding decent jobs in today’s economy. A large number of these unemployed capable workers are now looking for businesses to buy.

3. Baby Boomers are getting closer to the retirement age. Baby Boomers who own businesses are starting to retire in large numbers. The number of businesses that will be sold for retirement reasons will rise dramatically in the next 10 years. This will increase the supply of businesses for sale and might depress the market in the near future. Selling in today’s market will enable sellers to avoid a probable depressed future market .

4. In the province of Ontario, Canada the Capital Gain Tax Exemption has been raised to $750,000.00 per shareholder for the sale of company shares. This is a huge tax incentive for today’s business sellers . This might not last for long as governments in North America might increase the historically low capital gain tax rates to balance their huge deficits created during this financial crisis.

5. The economy is expected to recover from recession. Most experts agree that the economy is on its way to recovery. This has recently fueled the business for sale market as potential buyers are feeling more optimistic about future economic prospects. Some business sellers are waiting for a full economic recovery to get the best possible price for their businesses but this is a rarely good strategy for two simple reasons. First, other not so favorable factors will kick-in in the future and second the recovery might take much longer than expected.

6. Supply of viable businesses available for sale is now very low. A large number of business sellers were scared of the negative impact of recession on their business sale prices. As a result, many potential sellers are now on the sides waiting for the economy to recover before putting up their businesses for sale. This is defectively an opportunity for new sellers to jump in.

While there is no exact science that can predict future market behavior, business owners in the US and Canada looking to sell their businesses should consider the above factors before delaying the sale of their companies even further and miss today’s market opportunity.

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