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TheStreet Open House

How to Sell Your Business for Top Dollar

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Are you ready to sell your business? Do you have plans to pass your days sitting with your toes in the sand, touring Europe, or even, buying and running another business?

Selling your business, like selling a home, is one of those really stressful times in your life, but if you're prepared and have realistic expectations, even in this economy, it doesn't have to be a disaster. Getting your company sold seems to be marginally easier this year, too, as the economy slowly recovers. So if you have a good business model and a company that's making money, there are buyers in the market.

"People have sat back long enough ... older senior executives are not getting rehired at the level they were at, a lot of people are being underutilized. So you're either going to deal with that or find a business to buy," says Roger Murphy, president and CEO of Murphy Business & Financial Corp., a business and franchise brokerage firm in Clearwater, Fla.

"People were afraid to buy a business because businesses were failing. Buyers weren't buying and sellers weren't selling. My business through May was up 64% in business sales. That tells me that people have stopped waiting on the sidelines and we have this pent up demand," he says.

Businesses sold year-to-date are up 1.2% as compared to 2011, according to the latest quarterly report by BizBuySell.com, a marketplace for buying and selling small businesses.

The report, which analyzes transactions completed through BizBuySell's service, says small businesses are financially healthier than last year, given improved business revenue and cash flow. Businesses had median revenue of $360,000, up from $340,000 in the second quarter of 2011. The median annual cash flow for a business sold was $86,508, an improvement from $85,000 the year before, says BizBuySell.

Owners are also setting more realistic asking prices for their businesses. The median asking price for the second quarter was $236,750, down slightly from $239,000 in the 2011 comparable time period.

As a result, BizBuySell expects to see transactions rise throughout the rest of the year -- partly as financing becomes marginally more available but also because small-business owners might be pushing their timetables forward to avoid the expected rise in capital gains tax rates next year due to the expiring Bush tax cuts.

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