NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Why 2015 Might Be The Best Year Yet To Sell A Small Business

Grace Hood
Roy Hansen put his Fort Collins-based truck driving school on the market and is hoping to retire. 2014 and 2015 have been busy years for boomers seeking to sell their small businesses.

From BBQ joints to ice cream parlors, more small businesses changed hands in 2014 compared to any time in recent memory. It’s a trend many business brokers were expecting.

According to bizbuysell.com, which tracks small business transaction data across the United States, 2014 saw small business sales increase 6 percent. The numbers are important because they can be viewed as an indicator of economic recovery across Colorado and the U.S.

Business Brokers like Ben Mahrle, a managing broker at Mountain States Business Brokers Group in Fort Collins, witnessed the activity firsthand.

“It was our best year in the 20 years,” said Mahrle. “We have many good small businesses that are profitable and growing, with baby boomer owners that are thinking about retiring.”

Mahrle said retirement of baby boomers was the most common reason he saw for business sales in 2014. And with the economy becoming stronger, the median price and number of transactions increased.

Credit Screencap from bizbuysell.com
Screencap from bizbuysell.com

The trend could also be seen nationwide, according to Bob House, general manager at bizbuysell.com. House said he also expects 2015 to be an even more positive year.

“I think we’ll see continued strong activity. Most brokers we’ve asked say they expect to sell more businesses in 2015 than 2014 and to fetch higher prices,” said House.

In particular, service businesses, retail outlets and restaurants are in high demand across the United States.

In Colorado, Mahrle said he didn’t see buyers searching for one specific kind of business like car washes or laundromats.

“What we saw last year was a pretty wide variety of service business, restaurants, retail, manufacturing,” he said. “Construction even came back. For a long time there was very little interest in construction related businesses. We sold three or four of those last year.”

Related Content
  • So-called “business brokers” match buyers and sellers for all kinds of small enterprises, everything from high-end hair salons to septic tank cleaning.…
  • The generation that came of age in the 1960s is beginning to retire. Born after World War II, they grew up in an era of rising living standards, but the Great Recession destroyed any sense of financial security. Now they face challenges, including putting their kids through college and caring for their parents.
  • Baby boomers start turning 65 this year. That used to be the age when Americans stopped working and kicked back. But just like with every other stage of life they've gone through, baby boomers are expected to transform how we think about "retirement."
  • Seniors aged 65 and over represent one of the fastest growing age groups to use social media. But what drives them to do so, and what kinds of technology can help their experience? Audie Cornish speaks with Dr. Laura Carstensen, who heads the Stanford Center on Longevity, for more on the culture of seniors and technology.