While the total number of small and mid-sized California businesses sold last year exceeded the count of completed deals in 2010, there were fewer transactions closed during the final 2011 quarter than in the last three months of 2010. The pattern of inconsistent results parallels the ups and downs reported by key indicators throughout the economy, such as stock market performance, retail sales and consumer confidence.
Some 13,948 small and mid-market businesses changed hands in California last year, an increase of about 4.4% from the 13,329 deals that closed in the state during 2010. Much of the gains were in the first part of the year, because the number of transactions completed in the last three months of 2011, a total of 3,453, lagged behind the count of 3,615 closed business escrows recorded during the final 2010 quarter.
Many people--small business owners, prospective buyers, intermediaries and the other professionals who provide services supporting small business transfers--seem to be waiting for the market to return to the way it was before the banking crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed. Sellers want the solid company profit performance and market values their businesses had more than three years ago. Many prospective buyers want to be able to choose between profitable, fairly priced purchase opportunities and, if they don’t find the right business, the option of accepting lucrative employment. Business intermediaries want to be able to put together deals with a minimum of difficulty, readily available funding and a sense of confidence about the economy among their clients.
But the market we’re dealing in today--in fact, the economy as a whole--have changed considerably since mid-2008. And it’s unlikely we’ll see a return to those old days in the near future. Or longer. Those of us involved in California’s business sales industry need to adapt to the realities of the New Economy in order to be successful.
2011 Sales Performance in The State’s Largest Counties
Many of California’s largest counties recorded higher levels of business transfers in 2011, compared to 2010 activity. The Los Angeles County total is 3,763 business sales last year, vs. 3,557 in 2010. Orange County recorded 8.5% more deals last year, with a 1,308 total, than the 1,205 figure for 2010. San Diego entrepreneurs completed 1,206 transactions in 2011, up from the 1,150 registered the previous year. And in Northern California, San Francisco recorded an increase from 2010 to 2011 of 94 deals (535 to 629), Santa Clara County’s growth went from 768 to 775, and Sacramento County saw a year-to-year rise from 403 to 452 transactions.
Large California counties registering declines in the transaction count during 2011 from 2010, were Alameda, down to 550 from 582; San Bernardino County, with its decline to 528 from 577; and Contra Costa, where the 319 completed escrow figure for 2010 dropped to 307 in 2011.
Total, by-county sales of small and mid-market businesses in California during 2011, compiled and reported by the BizBen Index and found at http://www.bizben.com/stats/stats-total.php are as follows:
Alameda: 537, Alpine: 2, Amador: 23, Butte: 53, Calaveras: 1, Contra Costa: 300, El Dorado: 80, Fresno: 379, Humboldt: 12, Imperial: 33, Inyo: 2, Kern: 325, Kings: 15, Lake: 4, Lassen: 12, Los Angeles: 3694, Madera: 25, Marin: 89, Mariposa: 1, Mendocino: 23, Merced: 83, Mono: 1, Monterey: 149, Napa: 58, Nevada: 20, Orange: 1292, Placer: 121, Plumas: 4, Riverside: 671, Sacramento: 445, San Benito: 4, San Bernardino: 522, San Diego: 1185, San Francisco: 620, San Joaquin: 231, San Luis Obispo: 161, San Mateo: 262, Santa Barbara: 173, Santa Clara: 753, Santa Cruz: 105, Shasta: 84, Solano: 133, Sonoma: 248, Stanislaus: 187, Sutter: 51, Tehama: 12, Trinity: 4, Tulare: 198, Tuolumne: 20, Ventura: 248, Yolo: 62, Yuba: 5.
Sales figures covering small California businesses in December, 2011, are found at and are as follows:
Alameda: 37, Amador: 1, Butte: 7, Contra Costa: 20, El Dorado: 7, Fresno: 27, Humboldt: 2, Imperial: 4, Kern: 26, Lassen: 2, Los Angeles: 253, Marin: 1, Mendocino: 1, Merced: 10, Monterey: 6, Napa: 4, Nevada: 2, Orange: 81, Placer: 8, Riverside: 72, Sacramento: 32, San Bernardino: 53, San Diego: 90, San Francisco: 42, San Joaquin: 10, San Luis Obispo: 16, San Mateo: 20, Santa Barbara: 21, Santa Clara: 39, Santa Cruz: 7, Shasta: 6, Solano: 12, Sonoma: 11, Stanislaus: 18, Sutter: 3, Tehama: 3, Tulare: 15, Tuolumne: 7, Ventura: 7, Yolo: 5.
For the past 15 years the BizBen Index has collected and reported important data about California’s small businesses for sale market.