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Established Canadian businesses - For Sale by Owner - in Canada


Questions and Answers
on How to Enter your Ad

"We Help You Sell Your Business"

For Sale - Canada Questions & Answers For Sale - Canada

- Q u e s t i o n s -

- A n s w e r s -

  • 1.  How do I choose a Category for my Business ?    

    There are over 40 different business "Categories" available to choose from - each business listing can choose any two of these to be listed under.  My suggestion would be to first pick a common one (like "Retail Store" or "Food Service") and then pick a more specific one (like "Education" or "Arts") as the second choice.  This way, your ad can be seen by both the "general" business shopper as well as a more particular buyer.
    See the list of the available "Categories" and notice the number of current listings (shown in brackets) for each category to help determine it's popularity.  It's not necessary, or even desirable to have available any extremely detailed specific categories - such as: "Children's dresses for 4 to 8 yr olds".
    If you are having trouble in selecting a second category that you like for your business, simply repeat your first category (on the data entry screen), and when we review your ad, we will select an appropriate alternate for you.
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  • 2.  Should I choose "Relocatable - Yes" for my Listing ?

    Generally, "Relocatable" means that the business can be operated successfully from some location other than the one that it's currently operating from.  Some Sellers decide to use this feature to simply indicate that the business building is "leased", and that a new Purchaser could lease a different building if they wanted to in a different part of the same town.  Of course, relocation of most businesses often means a significant loss of existing customers and the new owner may or may not be successful in the new location.  As the Seller, you should be prepared to substantiate why you believe that this business is "Relocatable".
    Truly relocatable businesses are something like a Mail-Order business, where they can be operated successfully and with the same degree of activity as they have now, from any province within Canada.  These businesses are flagged by the Business Sell Canada staff and listed as "Relocatable" on all of the province pages.
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  • 3.  Why does my business Location only show the Province ?

    Many business owners, quite rightfully, are concerned that disclosing the exact location and name of their business (the fact that it's for sale) will materially affect their current business operation and profit.  They're concerned that their employees may consider leaving, and that their existing customers may become nervous and start to look elsewhere for an alternate supplier.
    The "For Sale" listings at Business Sell Canada are sorted into pages based only on the first letter of the Postal Code of the business address.  This typically covers a whole province, although sometimes it's only a part of a province like "Eastern Ontario", or even just a city like Toronto (or Montreal).  For most sellers, this is a quite acceptable division and provides sufficient anonymity while filtering out prospective purchasers that are too distant.  If however, your business would benefit from a more exact location, then you should plan to include it's location within the Title description.  Like: "Motel on Lake Superior near Nipigon."
    If you're really concerned about location disclosure, then you can enter any Postal code starting with the letter "Q" and it will then say a location of "Canada" and it will NOT be displayed on any of the Province pages.
    If your business is truly "Relocatable" (see item answer above), then the choice of Postal Code does not matter as your title will appear on all of the Province pages anywise.
    If a business is relocatable only within its existing Province, then your choice of "Relocatable" will still show on your own "Details" page, but your title will not be shown on any of the other Province pages.  A typical example of this is a trucking business that is only licensed to operate in, say, Manitoba - it is relocatable anywhere within Manitoba but cannot legally operate outside that province.
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  • 4.  How do I add a picture or logo to my advertisement ?

    If you have an existing picture that's already hosted on the web somewhere, you can enter the URL (like: to your listing information in the appropriate box when you originally enter your ad.  If you miss that opportunity, you can simply email us the URL afterwards and ask us to insert it into your ad for you.  Remember to tell us your Listing Number in the email so that we get it onto the right advert.
    If you already have a picture in electronic form (jpeg, jpg or gif) on your computer, then you can just e-mail it to us as an email 'attachment'.  If you only have a photograph, then you will need to visit a local computer store or ask a friend to "scan" it into "jpeg" format for you.  Then e-mail it to us as an attachment.  Make sure that you tell us your listing number so that we can insert it correctly.
    A photograph with your ad, or a logo, always helps sell it.  We have room for 1 or 2 photos with your ad.  If you have more than that, save them to email to interested buyers.  Remember, a photo showing happy customers enjoying your product is always more appealing than one showing a room with empty chairs and a building with an empty parking lot.
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  • 5.  Why can't I enter Zero dollars ($0.00) for my Selling Price ?

    The site entry system won't allow "No Price".  The only thing that you can do is to enter $1 and then describe the situation in the title or text descriptions.
    In my opinion, the best way to handle it, is for the Seller to set a fixed price for an exact smaller portion of the business, then say that "more of the business / additional portions" can be negotiated for additional cost.
    People don't like to buy businesses when they think the Seller is going to price it based on how much money they have, or how much the Seller thinks he can get.  People also don't want to buy from a Seller who doesn't know what the business that he is selling is really worth.
    So, set an fixed asking price, a little high if you like.  There are always negotiations as to what's to be included and how much the Buyer will actually pay - based on the business' worth, not on the amount of money that he has to spend.
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  • 6.  Is it a requirement to also place regular newspaper ads ?

    No - there's no requirement to advertise your business for sale in any other place other than here at  We are pleased to host your ad for you - and to make it available to be seen by buyers from around the world on the Web.  We do suggest however, that a well balanced approach to your advertising of your business for sale will return the most effective results to you in the most timely fashion.
    Obviously, advertising in the local community newspaper won't find you a cross-Canada buyer; and to the same extent, web advertising often misses out on the local employees, customers & suppliers who already deal with you and know of your company and its reputation.
    It all depends on your commitment to selling, the confidentiality of the sale, and the time that you have available to make the sale.  The choice is yours.  Our commitment to you is to provide your ad with effective World Wide Web exposure within the Canadian-wide business and investment community.
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  • 7.  My business is not located in Canada, but I want to sell it to a Canadian.

    When you originally enter the Listing information for the business, simply enter a Postal Code of "ZZZ" in the appropriate box.  This will cause the Listing to show a location of "Not in Canada" in place of the usual Canadian Province or Region name.
    You are however well advised to make it very clear to prospective purchasers both in the Title and the text of the ad, that the business is currently located in a different country other than Canada and that the purchaser may or must relocate to this other country.  Also, you should be aware that the Asking Price shown in the ad is always entered and displayed in 'Canadian' dollars.
    Your ad Title, Location & Price will appear in the general list of ads along with all the others and also in the 2 category pages that you've chosen but it will not appear in any of the Canadian Province or Region pages.
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  • 8.  Should I show the full name of my business in my Ad descriptions ?

    It's your choice... What it hinges on is the answer to the question:
    "If people start to know that your business is For Sale, will your customers, employees and suppliers start to treat you differently" ? 
    .... Customers starting to look for an alternate place to buy the same product - in case you go out of business; Employees starting to look for a new job, or perhaps just not working as hard and not caring as much; and, Suppliers no longer giving you long term "credit" terms ....
    If the answer is "Yes" then keep the business name hidden and don't even tell a potential buyer on the first email.  Just mention a vague location for the business like: "near Kitchener, Ontario".
    This is actually for the benefit of the new owner as much as it is for your benefit.  The new owner wants to be purchasing a viable business that still has it's customers and suppliers and has key employees willing to remain on and keep continuity with the original customers.  So don't be hesitant in keeping things secret until the right time.  A good buyer will understand.
    Also see the answer to the question below for further useful hints and recommendations.
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  • 9.  I'm concerned that people will find out that my business is For Sale and cause a problem.

    We fully understand your concerns.  In many cases, premature announcement that the owner's selling the business can substantially interfere with the existing customers, staff, and suppliers.
    Of course, there's a certain level of information that is required to attract an interested buyer, and the more "secretive" you are, the less that a prospective buyer will see your business location / description as a 'fit' for what he's looking for.
    That having been considered, it's quite possible to list your business here at and keep it's location a secret from the general public.
    1.  Only the first letter of the Postal Code is actually required to display the business in it's province page.  For example, B.C. = "V".  On initial entry, you will have to put in the first 3 digits of the Postal Code, but you can send us an email and we'll remove the last two leaving only (for example) the "V" - before it's made public.
    2.  Use a generic email address for responses (outlook or gmail).  Compose a standard response letter to send to inquiries which details things like cash flow, size of business and profits - but is quite vague about the business's location (like: Lower Mainland of B.C.).  Make sure that you use that generic email account when you respond - and not your 'business' email account that has your name on it.
    3.  "Qualify" your buyers before you release sensitive information to them.  Ask them why they want to buy the business, do they know how to run it, have they got the money now?  If you're really cautious, make arrangements with your bookkeeper or lawyer (or perhaps your brother-in-law) to do some of the initial responses with the prospective buyers.
    4.  If an employee / customer / supplier finds out or guesses and asks you if the business is currently For Sale, I always respond with: "I'm a businessman ... every business that I own is always for sale all the time - at the right price of course.  Would you like to buy it or do you know of somebody who would?" - "How much?" - "How much have you got?"
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  • 10.  Can I hide my E-mail address - I'm concerned about getting Spam & Scams !

    Your email address on your ad details page is already obscured using JavaScript which hides it from spammers' robots so that they can't harvest your address automatically.
    Obviously honest buyers have to be able to contact you to ask you about your business - and therefore so can dishonest buyers, conmen, and spam senders.  There's no way to allow only 'honest' people to contact you, and if we make it too hard for people to contact you, then legitimate buyers who aren't too familiar with computers and email, and buyers whose computer is not configured to send emails from webpage links, won't be able to contact you and ultimately won't be able to buy your business.
    What we recommend is that you sign-up for a public, no cost, email address at or Google gmail and use that address here for the responses to your ad.  You can abandon / erase this temporary email address later on when your sale is complete.
    If you're concerned about scams (conmen), please read our pages: Protection from "Spam" & "Scams" for some valuable tips.
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  • 11.  Do I have to disclose my Financial Statements and yearly profit in the Ad ?

    You don't have to "disclose" your financials on the site ... But also think of it from the Buyer's standpoint.  Someone offering to sell, for example, a lawn-mower and calling it a Lawn Mowing Business; may not even be worth responding to unless he also tells you something of his productivity and activity with that lawn mower.
    Typical entries in Business For Sale ads would be: I did over $20,000 in business last year.  I have 2 dozen customers who call me regularly.  My wife and I make a comfortable living at this business.  We've been operating this business for over 10 years.
    These are all indications that the business is ongoing and productive ... and encourage potential buyers to inquire.  Ads that say: Lawn mowing business for sale - includes Lawn Mower - make me an offer and I'll tell you if I'm making any money - once I decide if you're serious and have enough money to buy it ... probably won't get many inquiries.  Why even bother to advertise ?
    This is not "disclosing your financials" ... this is being aware that the potential buyer has needs too.  So, how would you feel if you inquired of a "business" seller and found out that it wasn't a real, existing, operating business that he was selling - just some equipment and "You start your own NEW business - Good Luck at making any money" ?
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  • 12.  My Listing info is shown in dim gray, while all the others are bright coloured print !

    This is a feature of your own computer and your Internet Browser.  When you have once "visited" a link, it then changes colour (often gray) to tell you that you've already been there before.  This feature is most useful to Buyers who are browsing through the site and seeing the same listing line appear on several different pages (Province, Category, etc.). 
    Be assured, we're not picking on you.  The effect that you're currently seeing, others are not seeing, and it will go away for you usually within the next day.
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  • 13.  I made changes to my Listing details & price, and it still looks the same as before.

    This is a feature of your own computer and your Internet Browser.  When you have once viewed a web page, a copy of that page is stored in the memory cache on your own computer to be re-displayed again if you come back to it. 
    This cached copy of the page, of course, doesn't notice the recent changes that you've just made to the page on the site. 
    To view the real page from the website again, you need to go to the page and choose, on the top ToolBar of your Browser (press the "Alt" key if necessary), "View" --> "Refresh/Reload".  This will cause your Browser to re-acquire the current copy of the page from the site.  Note: Pressing "Ctrl-F5" or a right-click may also do a Refresh/Reload for you. (Hold down the "Ctrl" key and press the "F5" key, then release both keys)
    In general, other people aren't noticing this effect as they acquire each page directly from the site when they first visit it.  This cached copy on your computer will expire in a day or so.
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  • 14.  Why are some Listings shown with different buttons - NEW, New Price, More Details ?

    For the first 30 days or so, each newly added Listing is shown with a red "NEW" button.  After that time, it reverts to a maroon "More Details" button like most of the other Listings.
    If you change the Asking Price on your Listing, then the "More Details" button will change to a red "New Price" one (unless it's still within the first 30 days and it is currently saying "NEW").  The "New Price" button lasts for about 30 days and then it reverts back to the standard "More Details" one.
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  • 15.  Why does my Listing move to different pages every day ?  Can I get on the first page ?

    When a Listing is first entered, or on it's "Renewal" date, it starts out at the end of the last page of the General Browse pages.  Each day, as time goes by, it 'floats' up towards the top of page one of the General list pages - until it's 2 month's term is just about up.
    This procedure, which is automatic, keeps the site views fresh and rotates all listings throughout all pages.  We do not sell Preferred Spots for any Business for Sale listing.
    On the Province and Category pages, New Listings are added at the bottom of the appropriate last page, and float up towards the top, over time, as listings above them are either sold or are not renewed.  These pages have fewer listings available, and don't need rotation as much as the General pages.
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  • 18.  When my Ad's 'Expired' - should I 'Renew' it or re-list it all again as 'New' ?

    There are advantages and disadvantages to you either way.  If it's a 'paid' Renewal, then there's no difference in the cost to you, but there are other important considerations.
    A "RENEWAL" keeps your existing listing number and your existing priority (nearer the top) of the Category and Province pages.  There's also a certain amount of 'Search Engine' identity for World Wide Web searchers that you have built up over the last few months - that you will keep and which would be lost if you did a 'NEW' listing.
    A 'NEW' listing gives you a whole new opportunity to say it all over again in a newer, fresher way.  However, you also start all over again at the bottom of the Category and Province listing pages, and you loose any Google identity that you had previously earned.  You will however have a "NEW" icon showing on your Listing line for about the first month, and also you'll be 'Featured' on the front page of this web site and on our News feed for about the first week of the new listing.
    It's your choice.  One compromise that you may want to consider, is to request a 'Renewal', but to edit your Price and the Title information for the Listing, thereby getting some fresh wording in front of the prospective buyers, and also getting a 'New Price' icon on the Listing line.
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  • 19.  A buyer wants me to 'Stop Advertising' - while he negotiates with me !

    My recommendation is: If the "buyer" doesn't want you getting additional offers while he is negotiating - he needs to either put down some money (refundable) to show that he's serious, or he, at least, needs to tell you how long he's going to take to think about it.  In a week, either he's serious and has made you an offer, or you should be able to go back on-line and get some more competitive buyers.
    I always recommend that you continue advertising, even if you have an interested party, until someone gives you a "deposit".  "Interested" buyers can keep you busy for weeks, and then walk away ... leaving you with no other competitive offers.  Nothing like a second offer to get the first guy to turn serious.
    Also note, if this is a "scam" buyer, then they usually ask you to go off-line - so that they have your complete attention and you are committed to them while they work their scam.  Read over the scam email that you received from us when the ad went up and also see: Protection from Spam & Scams and associated pages.
    If you do want to take your ad off-line for awhile, please contact us and tell us for how long, and we'll do it for you.  While your ad is off-line, the Ad page is still there (and can still be edited by you); but it doesn't appear in any of our listing pages and search on the site.  However, it may still be found if someone does a particular Google search for your ad title.  If you want it absolutely gone, then you need to "erase" it and you'll have to re-enter it anew if you want it back.
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  • 20.  How should I respond to short, impertinent buyer inquiries ? ?

    Here's how you can respond to ALL "Non-Scam" inquiries.
    The initial email from a potential buyer probably won't say very much and will often have an impertinent question like: "How much profit did you make last year ?" that they have no right to know at this point in the negotiations.  Sooo ... Don't be offended - just ignore their impertinence.  You don't have to answer all of their questions right now.  But consider that the inquiry is a "lead", and it is now time for you to "SELL" your business.
    Here's what you do.
    Write a standard paragraph or 2 with a little more information about the business but still nothing confidential.  Like: We're located on the in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy - and last year we had a 90% occupancy rate in our Resort during the Summer.  We usually hire a staff of 3 part-timers during the busy season.  The business currently provides a nice income for my wife and I and our 3 children.
    Then ask: What experience do you have in running a, for example, resort/campground ?  Do you currently have sufficient funds and a good credit rating to qualify for financing ?  Where are you currently living and working ?  ... etc, etc... and send it in response to ALL inquiries about buying the business, regardless of what they actually ask.
    It is the NEXT email that will tell you about whether this buyer is serious or just curious ...  If they don't answer any of your questions in response, then it is likely that they are a scam or are just fishing ...  and then there's, like: Wow - I'd really like to own your million dollar property - but I am currently over-extended on my VISA card and I'm 3 months late with my rent !! Ha !!!
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  • 21.  Where do I get "Do-It-Yourself Forms" for Non-disclosure and Sale agreements ? ?

    In any sale of a business, in order to do things completely legally, you should employ the services of a professional lawyer in your own province.  He can provide you with the proper legal forms, witness, expert review, and financial escrow that you may need.  The use of a professional is most important if there is Real Estate, valuable inventory or proprietary information involved in the business transfer.
    If the sale of the business does not involve any transfer of Title of Real Estate or other registered items, you might decide to simply obtain and fill-in the appropriate forms yourself; with each party agreeing mutually to the terms.  This, along with a certified cheque, is often sufficient for a simple business sale.
    Suitable forms can be obtained on the Internet, often for a small cost.  You are best to find forms which have been prepared with regard to the legislation of your own province.  One example of such an Internet source is:
    Click for Do-It-Yourself Business Legal Forms
    Trusted Do-It-Yourself legal forms for the sale of your Business.
    Do-it-yourself Non-Disclosure Agreement ($15.00 - Basic)   Click for Help ... FAQ
    Do-it-yourself Purchase and Sale of Business ($24.50 - Basic)   Click for Help ... FAQ
    and many, many more useful Canadian forms ...   The Legal Disclaimer Read the Disclaimer

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BusinessSellCanada is not responsible for the accuracy of the information shown
in any of the "Business For Sale" listings.  The Buyer should contact the Seller
directly and verify the accuracy of all information to his own satisfaction.

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