It can be easier to buy an established business rather than struggle through the operational and financial difficulties of launching a start-up. Below, we’ve reviewed the top 15 websites listing businesses for sale in Canada.
Whether you’re a buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of due diligence. So, we’ve also provided basic business evaluation checklists for buyers and sellers.
- 15 best business-for-sale marketplaces in Canada
- Sunbelt Business Brokers Canada
- Exchange Marketplace
- IBBA Canada – International Business Brokers Association
- Deal Stream
- Business Sell Canada
- Thebizex.com – The Business Exchange
- Buy and Sell a Business
- Exit Adviser
- FAQ about finding businesses for sale in Canada
15 best business-for-sale marketplaces in Canada
Brick-and-mortar businesses for sale are still popular with three solid website directories in Canada. Ecommerce and software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses for sale are popular in Canada due to comparably lower purchase price points and cost-efficient operations. Software developers, start-up founders, serial entrepreneurs, and private equity investors may find advantage in centralized dashboard and seller-buyer introduction services.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that these sites charge fees. You can pay with a credit card. Once you buy a business, you'll need to keep it running smoothly. Hardbacon can help with its business articles and business credit card recommendations.
MicroAcquire seeks to consolidate a fragmented SaaS marketplace for serial software developers, entrepreneurs, and private equity investors. Start-up founders looking for exit strategy opportunities gain access to competitive bids from a pool of 120,000 vetted buyers of SaaS businesses for sale.
Seller pricing options
MicroAcquire offers serial entrepreneurs and private equity investors free do-it-yourself listings for SaaS businesses for sale in Canada. They also offer a founder/developer Platinum package that provides discount business broker and buyer introduction services to guide sellers through the legal and financial complexities of selling a business in Canada. Successful closures are subject to a 5% commission otherwise there is no cost to the seller.
Buyer pricing options
SaaS entrepreneurs and private equity investors may find value in the buyer Premium package at $390 annually. They advertise this option as “for serious buyers only” on their website. The MicroAcquire platform claims to host 150,000 company founders and pre-qualified business buyers.
Buyers can manage potential SaaS business investments from a centralized dashboard with targeted search and advisory services. Commercial buyers are vetted and pre-qualified. The dashboard also shows company data, performance metrics, and financial analysis, and cumulative start-up data on 1,000s of start-up companies for sale. It also has email notifications for new listings.
MicroAquire is suitable for founders and buyers of SaaS businesses for sale in Canada, serious buyers looking for investment growth opportunities in the start-up technology space, start-up founders, and SaaS developers. Serial entrepreneurs and private equity investors may find the centralized dashboard offers a steady stream of SaaS start-up companies into their investment opportunity pipeline. To make life easy, business financing options are available through a partnership with eCommerce Lending.
BusinessesForSale.com is a digital directory that lists more than 60,000 business investment opportunities internationally with 2,325 businesses for sale in Canada. Most listings are for brick-and-mortar assets in retail, construction, skilled trades, franchises, commercial real estate, and professional services.
A start-up survivor from the dot.com era, BusinessesForSale.com evolved since it’s establishment in 1996. Starting as an online bulletin board, it has grown into a comprehensive digital platform listing businesses for sale in Canada and 145 countries internationally.
Sellers can purchase a 6-month package for $549, a 3-month package for $449, or a 1-month package for $349. Buyers can buy a membership for $24.95 per month or $144.95 per year.
It also has a services directory to find brokers, business advisors, lawyers, and accountants who can help you buy or a sell a business. Business investors in Canada gain access to a large searchable database of 61,805 international companies for sale with 2,300+ located in Canada. It may be a solid option for buyers looking for brick-and-mortar operations and purchasing client/customer lists. Business sellers in Canada gain access to 1 million+ international business investors with 118,606 buyers registered in Canada.
Website traffic is stated as 1 million visitors per month. Pricing is skewed toward the higher priced 6-month option. However, it does offer the most value because business deals often take several months or more to negotiate. Owners and founders executing business exit strategies in the short term may find value in the international exposure and large buyer database.
It’s free. Acquizition.biz offers a business-for-sale listing service with 95,000 potential buyers. There are searchable business listings for online and digital services companies although most listings are for brick-and-mortar assets in manufacturing assembly, construction, professional services, skilled trades, franchises, and commercial real estate.
They have a business financing partnership section for those looking for down payment and working capital funds. Membership is free because they use a digital advertising model to finance the site, so referrals are likely monetized affiliate links. They also have a free professional advisors listing including commercial lawyers, accountants, and business advisors.
Their free company-for-sale listing services provide a no-cost opportunity to gain exposure to 95,000 potential business investors.
BizBuySell advertises 65,000 annual business-for-sale listings and 900,000 registered buyers primarily in North America. They currently list more than 400 businesses for sale in Canada and 20 franchise opportunities.
Business investors and buyers
Business opportunity shoppers can search for free. A paid membership is available for serious buyers for $19.95 monthly or $179.95 annually. This includes new business listing alerts, business buyer video training, industry and location valuation report, demographics and market analysis report, business listing activity report, and custom business opportunity recommendations.
Business sellers and founders
There are three primary business-for-sale listing options designed with features and benefits to drive more buyer interest. They have 6-month pricing with Basic for $59.95 per month, Showcase for $79.95 per month, and Diamond at $129.95/month. 3-month terms are also available at comparably higher monthly rates.
Brick-and-mortar business buyers will find more than 400 businesses for sale throughout Canada. Their automated business opportunity search engine can be sorted by city, province, and industry type. Business sellers and founders gain access to 3 million potential business buyers per month.
Flippa is match-making platform for serious business sellers and buyers in the e-Commerce industry. They advertise as a peer-to-peer platform founded in 2009. Their website claims to have processed more than 300,000 digital asset sales globally and have registered 3 million buyers and sellers. Business buyers can purchase a business operation for as low as $10,000.
Flippa has 290 listings of digital businesses for sale in Canada in the ecommerce industry. Digital retail stores, Shopify, and Amazon FBA stores have large listings along with SaaS and Apps businesses for sale. High-traffic blogs and affiliate sites are available but less common.
Buyers can have confidence that they’re getting qualified business investment opportunities. Sellers are pre-qualified through a comprehensive vetting process including financial analysis, website analytics verification, sales and marketing channel analysis, operations & legal analysis, and industry & competition analysis.
Free first-time buyer registration includes a concierge service offering professional guidance on navigating the Flippa platform and analyzing potential business deals. It further includes a 30-minute consultation to understand your business investment goals, creating an opportunities list based on the interview, and how to analyze and close a deal.
- Annual fee: $499
- Interest rate on purchases: n/a
- Interest rate on cash advances: n/a
Other advantages of Flippa
Seller listing packages are Ultimate for $499, Premium for $399, Enhanced for $299 and a 3-month Standard trial offering for $29. Successful business sales are assessed a 5% commission.
The free buyer registration and concierge service is ideal for serious business opportunity shoppers. Business buyers can purchase a business operation for as low as $10,000. The comprehensive seller vetting process is another bonus for serious buyers eliminating wasted negotiations with unserious business owners and speculators.
Serial entrepreneurs and private equity investors may find the buyer-seller match-making services offer the opportunity to gain valuable contacts among the serial company founder and software developer community.
There’s a large database of 3 million buyers and sellers which is a lot of potential exposure for business owners selling a business. They have processed 300,000+ digital asset sales which suggests sellers are achieving results on the platform. The lifetime listing packages are affordable whether a one-time sale or for executing multiple exit strategies for serial software developers and entrepreneurs. Flippa provides financially-secure transactions via Escrow.com.
Sunbelt Business Brokers Canada
Sunbelt Business Brokers Canada has listings for businesses for sale in Canada but are primarily an international business brokerage firm. They have 30 offices across Canada staffed with certified business brokers. Sunbelt claims to have the largest list of privately-owned businesses for sale in the world.
First-time buyers may want the guidance of an experienced broker to understand the complexities of business acquisition. They begin by determining the type of business you’re looking to purchase, assess your skillset, recommend potential opportunities, negotiate the sale price, and work out contract terms. Sunbelt can also help arrange financing for buyers through partnership arrangements.
Exchange Marketplace specializes in listing Shopify business for sale in Canada. They also list Shopify e-commerce stores in eight countries internationally. Industry selection includes electronics and gadgets, fashion and apparel, health and beauty, pets and animals, sports and recreation, starter stores and several others.
Business types include drop shipping companies, established businesses, and ecommerce retail businesses. Exchange Marketplace lists businesses for sale in Canada, Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States. They also list Staff Picks that handpick potential lucrative business opportunities. Businesses for sale are further categorized into large, medium, and small size companies for sale.
IBBA Canada – International Business Brokers Association
IBBA Canada is part of the International Business Brokerage Association responsible for training business brokers since 1984. Their stated goal is to “help sustain and grow healthy economies by facilitating the successful transference of small businesses’ ownership under the expert guidance of professional Businesses Brokers.” Their mission is to “equip Business Brokers with the training and expertise required to facilitate successful transferences of small businesses’ ownership professionally and indispensably.”
IBBA Canada lists businesses for sale in Canada spanning every industry and business type. Search capabilities include a price range, by Canadian city and region, by province, and business for sale listing date. Furthermore, search can be based on financial parameters such as sell price, cashflow, and down payment amount.
Deal Stream was founded in 1995 as a business merger network. The site lists 20,000 items for sale including established businesses for sale in Canada, franchises, real estate, and mining properties, among others. They also list investment opportunities, the sale of public shell companies, and potential business financing options.
Deal Stream currently has listings for 690 Canadian businesses for sale. Internationally, they have 16,506 listings worldwide primarily the United States, Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe. Search options include franchise resales, non-broker listings, business with real estate assets, companies with transitioning managers, and businesses with seller financing options.
Deal Stream notes on their website that they have “no connection to Deal Stream Securities, the South African company accused of defrauding investors.”
Established in 2006, Business2Sell is a business for sale listing website serving Australia, Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand. They also list franchises, professional commercial agents, business brokers, and private businesses for sale in Canada.
Business2Sell positions itself as an introductory service for franchisors, franchisees, private sellers, and business brokers to the “thousands of people looking for the right opportunity” and “by connecting them to the right business for them.”
Business Sell Canada
Business Sell Canada is primarily a classified ad site for businesses for sale in Canada. There are few bells and whistles but the site lists businesses from a 5-figure sale price to larger 7-figure companies for sale.
Buyertise advertises as a “‘business for sale’ marketing platform for business sellers, business buyers, and business brokers.” They list businesses for sale in Canada providing a separate listing page by province rather than having to use search features. They cater to buyers, sellers, and business brokers involved in selling businesses in Canada and have a Featured Listings section showcasing potentially lucrative deals. The site is operating in Beta mode but seems to function well.
Thebizex.com – The Business Exchange
The Business Exchange is a full-purpose business for sale website providing a Business Services directory, Advertising, and educational training programs for buyers and sellers of businesses for sale in Canada. They have listing classifications for franchises, commercial real estate, and preconstruction properties.
The Business Exchange hosts free webinars like “How to Buy a Business in Canada,” provide connections to commercial financing possibilities, accounting services, business valuation services, legal firms, and commercial insurance providers
Buy and Sell a Business
Buy and Sell a Business was established on February 14, 2014 as a platform to list businesses for sale in the “micro market” or valued less than $5 million. They’re positioned as a buyer-seller network service for all business types “ whether it be a main street, SaaS, or eCommerce business.”
They delve a little deeper than most business for sale platforms dealing with “business exit, stake sale, M&A, joint ventures, franchise expansion, franchise resale and investor/partner attraction.” The site has a resource library, tools, and consulting services from commercial professionals.
Buy and Sell a Business has two package offers for businesses for sale in Canada listings. The Full Serve Package offers free listings along with professional guidance from document disclosure to closing and payment facilitation and “all securely and seamlessly at a fraction of the cost of a broker.” The Subscription Package includes unlimited business for sale listings and recommended buyer leads for $80 monthly with no commitment required.
Exit Adviser is a for-sale-by-owner’ (FSBO) platform is primarily focused on small business for sale in Canada. It’s a full-service business selling platform offering sales strategies, documentation, market advice, how-to guides, and advisory services. They advertise as an “All-Inclusive Selling Platform” with an All-Inclusive Starter Package of $59 for 4 months of access and zero commissions upon sale.
FAQ about finding businesses for sale in Canada
One of the more difficult tasks when preparing a business for sale is assigning value to intangible assets like patents, brand recognition, and customer loyalty. It’s a good idea to value these assets first because they’ll play a major part in getting full market value in final negotiations. Financial business valuation involves agreeing on a methodology.
A Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis will provide sellers with the tools to negotiate the highest possible price.
Potential High-Value Intangible Assets include:
Customer loyalty – Are there successful customer loyalty programs? Is there high or low customer turnover. Loyal, repeat customers are high-value.
Key employees – Have you developed and trained high-value employees that will transition to the new owner?
Lead generation pipeline – Have you invested in a successful lead generation program? Customer and qualified prospect lists can be a useful tool in final negotiations.
Brand recognition – Successful branding can take many forms. It could involve product, service, and company brand recognition.
Management stability & staff depth – An efficiently-run business operation is returned in the financial valuation negotiations through high profit.
Industry recognition – How are the company and management viewed in the industry? Have you developed valuable industry customer or supplier relationships that add to competitive advantage?
Financial Business Valuation Methods
Industry Standards – Some industries have a standard guideline for valuing similar businesses. Franchises, for example, often use a ‘percent of annual sales’ methodology as do many business types within the hospitality industry.
Multiple of Annual Sales Factor – In this scenario, the buyer and seller agree on a multiplier to apply to gross annual revenue to negotiate the sale price for the business. For example, a $1 million high-return business may carry a 0.7 factor resulting in a $700,000 sale price but carry a $400,000 price tag with a 0.4 multiple for a low-margin company.
Net Profit Multiplier – Similar to the annual sales factor, a multiplier is agreed on and applied to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). For example, apply the multiplier to the average profit margin over the past five years. Typically, profit margin needs to be fairly stable or on a growth trajectory over time.
Asset-Based – Typically used for brick-and-mortar, construction, and skilled trade businesses with primarily physical assets. It’s a matter of agreeing on asset value. In the case of insolvency, discounted liquidation values are assigned to assets.
Evaluating a business for sale is not an easy task no matter how experienced and knowledgeable. The buyer is at a disadvantage because the seller controls the release of vital information. So, much of the due diligence process for the buyer is to ask the right questions. In the absence of a business broker, the prospective buyer has to ask questions about intangible value like staff morale and stable leadership.
Ask for a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis if one isn’t provided in the disclosure package. It’s a peek into the inner sanctum of the operation if done well. Here are a few questions to ask if one is not made available:
Customer loyalty – What percentage of sales are from repeat customers? Is there a customer loyalty program? Is there high or low customer turnover.
Key employees – Are there key employee positions integral to business operations? Will they be transitioning to new ownership? What are the difficulties in recruiting and hiring replacements?
Effective lead generation and customer list management – Are they working their lists? Are they upselling to customers? What is the quality of leads generated? Is there a qualification process?
Industry recognition – How are the company and management viewed in the industry? Have you developed valuable industry customer or supplier relationships that add to competitive advantage?
1.Revenue and profit audit.
2. Cash flow verification.
3. Inventory analysis to identify slow or obsolete stock.
4. Business continuity and sustainability analysis.
5. Past-year income tax returns
1. Website traffic verification.
2. Digital asset analysis.
3.Geography and demographics.
4. Traffic risk assessment
Sales and Marketing Analysis
1. Revenue by marketing channel.
2. Return-on-investment (ROI) by marketing channel.
3. Customer acquisition costs.
4. Average order value.
5. Growth potential.
6. Risk assessment
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About The Author: Arthur Dubois
Passionate about personal finance and financial technology, Arthur Dubois is a writer and SEO specialist at Hardbacon. Since his arrival in Canada, he’s built his credit score from nothing.
Arthur invests in the stock market but doesn’t pay any fees because he uses National Bank Direct Brokerage online broker and Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor. He pays for his subscriptions online with his KOHO prepaid card, and uses his Tangerine credit card for most of his in-store purchases. When he buys bitcoins, it’s with the BitBuy online platform. Of course it goes without saying that he uses the Hardbacon app so that he can manage all of his finances from one convenient place.
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