A million NDAs? Yes, that’s a profound exaggeration. It would be nearly impossible and ridiculous to sign a million of anything. The point we’re trying to make is your approach to buying a business will greatly impact your ability to get to a closing table.
The NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is a document you sign before the name, location and any sensitive information about a business for sale can be revealed to you. It is a critical step in the business buying process, so if you’re in the market to buy a business – you’ll be signing NDAs.
What you shouldn’t do is sign a ton of them. Why? It’s an enormous waste of you time and energy.
The NDA should only be signed after you have completed a few other steps. First and foremost you need to figure out your goals for business ownership (a more flexible schedule or greater income potential, for example) and then decide how much money you have to invest in your new venture. The second step would be to have a conversation with an experienced and qualified business broker about your goals, the industries where you have interest/practical experience and your available capital. Your broker should then find you some cursory listings to review. If any of those listings look promising, then and only then would you sign the NDA for that particular listing.
If a business broker is doing their job the only people who are allowed to sign the NDA are people who would not only be a successful buyer of the business (they have enough capital) but also a successful owner of the business (they have the practical experience and passion to keep the business in the red). It serves absolutely no one to randomly send NDAs to people who can’t successfully buy and run that business. All it does is put the business at risk for disclosure of the for-sale status to the wrong person (read why that is bad here).
There are brokers out there who will automatically send NDAs to anyone who shoots them an email, no questions asked – so as a buyer it’s possible to ask for, receive and sign a ton of NDAs. The issue is those NDAs are likely for businesses that you either would be unable to buy or wouldn’t suit the life you’d like to have – so why waste your time?
Talk to the right broker – someone who asks you questions and helps you narrow down business listings. Then sign.
Are you interested in buying a business and have questions about the NDA? Have you signed a ton of NDAs without much success and are looking to try a different approach? Talk to us! Feel free to leave any comments or questions and we would be happy to help.