Looking for a business to buy or thinking about selling the business you currently own? Either side of a business transaction is a tough and complicated road – and definitely one you shouldn’t travel alone.
So, who can help me with business transactions? Business brokers can.
A business broker is a professional who helps people buy and sell businesses. They are well versed in the transaction process, and know all of the potential pitfalls so you can avoid them.
Few people outside of the business transaction world truly understand what business brokers are and what they do – so here are the answers to some common questions about our industry:
What do business brokers do?
If you are a buyer a broker can help you search for businesses to buy, help you narrow down your choices, help you put together an offer, help you negotiate a purchase contract, help you with any necessary licensing and permitting and help you work with the seller as they show you the ropes.
If you are a seller a broker can help you prepare your business for sale, help you come up with an appropriate listing price, confidentially market your business, vet potential buyers and get non-disclosure agreements signed, show your business to potential buyers, help with negotiating a purchase contract, help you with the closing process and help you find your next business venture after you sell.
How are business brokers licensed?
Business brokers are typically licensed by their state’s real estate division, but what they do isn’t real estate. To put it simply state licensing divisions can’t possibly have a separate license for every applicable industry, so in some cases a profession is lumped in with an industry that is similar. That is the case with business brokers. They typically hold a real estate license or a real estate broker’s license.
Who is, and isn’t, a business broker?
The buying a selling of businesses and the buying and selling of property or homes are two completely different animals. Property and homes are sold by broadcasting the availability of the property/home to everyone, everywhere. Businesses, on the other hand, need to be sold confidentially – so the approach is completely different. Listings for businesses are extremely vague, and only after the signing of non-disclosure agreements will the name and location of a business for sale be divulged. It is this vastly different approach of sales techniques that makes it critical for business buyers and sellers to work with experienced and qualified business brokers and not real estate agents trying their hand at selling businesses.
Many professionals outside of the business transaction industry make ill-fated attempts to dabble in the buying and selling of businesses on the side. While unqualified real estate agents are the typical offenders – we’ve seen dentists, lawyers, accountants and the like they their hand and fail. The business transaction process is complicated, and to be successful you need to know what you are doing. Part-time business brokers aren’t business brokers, so avoid them. If your good friend or brother-in-law is a real estate agent who thinks they can successfully help you buy or sell a business, they can – by referring you to the appropriate professional. All your real estate agent needs to do is refer you to a qualified business broker, and when your transaction closes your real estate agent gets a referral fee for doing nothing more than making a phone call – and you get the right help.
Who does a business broker represent?
While your business broker is your advocate during the transaction process, they don’t technically represent one side or the other. They are transaction brokers, and therefore represent the transaction itself. For this reason it is possible in many states for a business broker to work for both the buyer and seller’s side.
How does a business broker get paid?
Business brokers make their money by earning a commission when a transaction closes, paid for by the seller’s proceeds of a sale. This is why buyers who spend years searching for businesses without ever taking any serious steps toward buying one (like making an offer) might have trouble getting an experienced broker’s attention. Serious buyers and serious sellers are easily distinguished from those who are just kicking tires.
How can I find a good business broker?
Finding a good broker can be a bit of a challenge, but there are some obvious signs that can distinguish the good from the bad. Great brokers get the vast majority of their business from referrals – from past buyers and sellers who were impressed with their work, from colleagues in other industries who’ve referred friends and family to great success – so ask a potential broker how much of their business comes from this good-review-based source. Good brokers also respond to calls and emails in a realistically timely fashion, have lots of connections within the industry and have some practical experience under their belt.
The message here is the road to buying or selling a business is best traveled with the right help – so finding an experienced and qualified business broker should be your first step!
Are you thinking about buying or selling a business and want to know more about what business brokers do? Do you have more questions about the transaction process? Ask us! Feel free to leave comments or questions and we would be happy to help!
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