A flurry of sales in the broader m&a mergers and acquisitions market has left participants wondering if an upturn has been signaled, or not. In small & medium business, our anecodotal feel for the market is that the market is slowly coming into a new balance. Sellers are getting used to the new reality of lower multiples, more in line with long term historical averages. Buyers are tending to view some of the horrible revenue drops we saw in the late 2008 thru 2009 as more like a historic financial reset than a harbinger of a coming apocalypse. Credit is still tough, but sellers are picking up the slack and are again embracing the historical practice of large amounts of seller note, a critical element in small deals that largely disappeared during 2000-2008.
What’s motivating sellers to hold high notes and sell at low multiples? Certainly less of them are — transaction volumes are definitely down. But those who want or need to move out of their business and on with their lives are facing up to the reality that revenue and multiples will not be bouncing back to previous, anomalous, highs. The hope of getting a much higher offer in 6 months is looking dim — especially when weighed against the downside chance that valuation multiples might compress even more once higher local, state, and federal tax start taking a real bite — especially long term capital gains. If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines and thinking about selling your internet business or website sometime in the next 10 years, now seems to be as good a time as any.