Finding successful small businesses for sale can be a great way to get into business for yourself without having to gamble your investment on an unproven startup. You can find small businesses for sale using local papers, online business-for-sale sites, and business brokers. We’ll walk you through all your options below.
Before you get too far along in the process, you need to make sure you have the necessary financing to purchase a business. Many traditional loans to buy-a-business are hard to qualify for and have pretty hefty down-payments of 20%+.
But, using a Rollover for Business Startups (or ROBS) to finance your purchase is one of the best kept secrets in the industry. You can take money out of your IRA or 401k without any early-withdrawal fees to fund your startup or to cover a down-payment on a larger loan, like an SBA Loan. To learn more and get a free 1-on-1 consultation with a ROBS expert, sign up for our Free ROBS Webinar.
Places to Find Small Businesses for Sale Summary Table
Largest business-for-sale online marketplace with over 100K listings. You can search for existing businesses and franchises for sale as well as new franchise opportunities. Filter by your search criteria, set email alerts for listings that match, and find a local broker.
Franchise-specific site that lists new franchise opportunities (doesn’t list existing franchises for sale)
Business-for-sale site with over 30K listings of existing businesses for sale and new franchise opportunities doesn’t list existing franchises for sale).
Business-for-sale site with over 60K listings in over 130 countries. This is the best option for buying international businesses.
Business-for-sale site which focuses on deals over $100K and has over 17K listings in the US and throughout the world.
Business-for-sale site focusing on large multi-million dollar deals. Find listings, real estate comparables, and market trends, and find a broker.
a business broker
Find a business broker - Murphy Business & Financial Corporation is a nationwide business broker with a large inventory of businesses for sale. Providing them with the industry you're interested in, your price range, and your timeline may save you lots of time and energy. Consultations are free.
and business publications
The classifieds section of your local newspaper and trade publications often list businesses for sale. Some owners who aren’t tech savvy list here instead of online.
Finding Small Businesses For Sale Detailed Overview
It’s not too early to start thinking about financing! In fact, you should be thinking about how you are going to finance buying a business at least 3 months before making a purchase. The first step to preparing to finance your franchise is getting your credit score above 700. If you don’t know your credit score, you can find out for free here.
Even if you have a strong credit score most lenders will want you to put up at least 30% of the funds required to buy the business. A popular option is using funds from your retirement account. This can be done without incurring an IRS penalty using a ROBS.
To learn more about ROBS and get a free 1-on-1 consultation with a ROBS expert (no obligation), check out our free ROBS webinar.
Call Local Businesses First
Finding a small business for sale is the first of many steps in acquiring a business. Before trying the options shown in the table above, I recommend calling some local businesses directly to get leads. If you know what type of business you want to purchase, call up a few in your area and ask the owner if they are selling or know anyone who is.
This method can be very effective because a lot of businesses don’t prominently advertise that they are for sale. Existing owners may not want customers or employees to know that they are considering selling the business, so they might not even involve a broker until very late in the process. Rather, they will sit back and wait for a buyer to come to them, and this is often how small businesses are bought and sold.
Online Business-For-Sale Sites
Most business buying experts agree that online business for sale marketplaces are a great place to search for a business opportunity. These websites allow you to look at a wide range of business types all in one place, which is great for comparing and contrasting businesses if you are still unsure about what type of business you want to buy.
If you do know which type of business you want to buy, these sites can be a great time saver. You can set filters to find businesses that meet your search criteria and receive alerts when businesses come up for sale that meet these criteria. You can also instantly view details and photos of the property for the sale before deciding if you want to move along in the purchase process.
BizBuySell.com is like the Amazon of business-for-sale sites. is pretty much considered When talking on the phone with various business buying experts, BizBuySell was mentioned as the best online option in nearly every conversation.
They have over 100,000 businesses for sale at various price ranges. In addition, the sites offers a variety of free resources related to buying or selling a business. Additionally, it has an extensive list of affiliate business brokers and a tool to find local brokers in your area.
BizBuySell is one of the few sites that lists existing franchises for sale. In order to find an existing franchise for sale, click here and do a keyword search for “franchise.”
Other Business-For-Sale Sites
Here are some other popular business-for-sale sites. Like BizBuySell, these allow you to search for businesses, franchises, and business brokers by location, industry, business type, and asking price. You can set email alerts to get notified of listings that match your search criteria. BizBuySell has the largest inventory by far. These smaller sites have around 30,000-50,000 businesses for sale at any given time.
- Franchisegator.com – This is a franchise-specific site that lists new franchise opportunities. It doesn’t list existing franchises for sale, however.
- BizQuest.com – This site has over 30K listings of existing businesses for sale and new franchise opportunities.
- Businessesforsale.com – This is a good resource if you’re interested in buying an international business. They have over 60K listings in more than 130 countries.
- Mergerplace.com – This site, which focuses on deals over $100K, has over 17K listings of businesses for sale in the US and globally.
- LoopNet.com – This site focuses on large multi-million dollar deals. Find listings, real estate comparables, and market trends, and find a broker.
Other Online Options
Although business-for-sale sites are probably your best chance of finding for-sale businesses online, there are some other options as well.
- Craigslist.com – Craigslist.com often has local businesses for sale
- Business Classifieds in Digital Newspapers – Many newspapers now have digital editions available. Check the business classifieds to see if there are any business options for sale.
- Small-Business Forums – Buying a business is often about networking. Posting on small-business forums to see if any businesses are for sale in your area could yield some results.
Business Brokers are another way you can find small businesses for sale. In most cases, you want to find a local broker who has a knowledge of your local market, ideally of the market and businesses in the area that you would prefer to have a business. Local business brokers should know what businesses are for sale in your area, and may even have leads on businesses that are not officially on the market yet.
Finding Business Brokers
There are 3 main ways to find business brokers and we have listed them for you below.
1. Local Referrals
In many cases, one of the best ways to find quality business brokers is to check with business owners in your local community. Ask them about local business brokers and see if they have had any personal experiences with any of them. The majority of the time, local business owners can either give you some helpful information or point you to another owner/friend who can.
2. Online Directories
Online directories can be a great way to find local business brokers in your area. In most cases, you simply input your zipcode or city name and and have a handy list within seconds.
Here are two of the main online directory options:
BizBuySell.com – BizBuySell.com has an extensive list of affiliate brokers that can be searched with just a few simple clicks.
International Business Broker’s Association – The IBBA has links on their webpage various states and their broker’s association pages.
3. Chamber of Commerce
Contacting your county’s Chamber of Commerce (just Google your “zipcode + Chamber of Commerce”) is yet another way to locate local brokers. This can be especially effective if you are in a smaller county where they may be only 1-2 business brokers available. In most cases, your local chamber of commerce should be able to provide you with names and contact info for business brokers in your area.
Other Ways to Find Businesses For Sale
Although the above methods are the main ways of finding business for sale, there are also several other methods that may provide some results.
Here they are:
1. Newspaper Classifieds
If your area still has print-newspapers, the classified’s section can be an option for finding for-sale businesses. Some of the owners who are not as tech-savvy often prefer advertising in the local newspaper over putting their business online.
2. Business Publications
At times, business publications have pages that list business investment opportunities/business-for-sale options.
Pro Tips To Help You Find Small Businesses For Sale
We asked several experienced professionals for their advice on finding the right business for sale. Here are a few expert tips to keep in mind as you search for businesses.
Now that you have some general tips to help you along the way, let’s take a look at the various options for finding small businesses for sale.
In the end, finding the right business for sale is all about establishing as many connections as possible and using all the options at your disposal. Sometimes, you can learn about a business opportunity in the most unlikely of situations. Just keep your eyes and ears open and be diligent in your search!
If you find a business and are looking for financing, be sure to check out a ROBS. You can take money out of your IRA or 401k without any early-withdrawal fees to fund your startup or to cover a down-payment on a larger loan, like an SBA Loan. To learn more and get a free 1-on-1 consultation with a ROBS expert, sign up for our Free ROBS Webinar.