I think it's safe to say that nearly everyone, at some point or another, has felt the itch to own a business. The independence, the chance to be the boss, the potential for striking it rich--these are compelling motives.
Of course, even if you're ready to scratch that itch, you might not know where to start. It's not like you can just flip open the Yellow Pages (remember those?) and find "businesses for sale."
You can, however, click open Small Bizeo, a Web service that's home to more than 8,000 existing businesses currently for sale in the United States.
All you do is choose an industry (choices range from Accommodation to Wholesale), then pick your desired state. Small Bizeo shows you a list of matches, each with the business name, location, asking price, cash flow, and date it was listed.
If you want to refine the results, just select some or all of the aforementioned criteria. Small Bizeo can also show you businesses with seller financing, businesses that are relocatable, and home-based businesses.
To get more information about a search result, you have to sign up for a free Small Bizeo Basic account. This entitles you to search the database, connect to brokers, and watch video interviews with small-business owners.
If you want the real meat of the site, however, including research reports on over one hundred franchises, reports on small-business industries, franchise disclosure documents, and other goodies, you need a Premium account. That runs $74.99 annually or $9.99 monthly--a big drop compared to when the service first debuted this past summer. (If you're looking to list an existing business, check out Small Bizeo's seller pricing plans.)
Given that you might only need Small Bizeo for a month or two, I think the rates are more than reasnable. Sure, you might be able to come by some or all of the same information elsewhere, but there's much to be said for the convenience of Small Bizeo's big database and the breadth of its business reporting. If nothing else, it's worth a look as you start investigating businesses you might want to buy. (Is it wrong that I'm eyeballing a Quiznos just so I can get unlimited sandwiches?)