We all do it. We have a question about something, so we pick up our phone and ask Google. Or Reddit. Or Facebook Groups. While some of the information you can glean from online sources can be useful, it is a terrible idea to take online advice as absolute fact if you don’t know the qualifications of the person giving you that advice. The chances of the anonymous person commenting on your post being an expert in their field is probably pretty slim.
This is particularly important in the sphere of the purchase and sale of small businesses.
Why? The small business marketplace is a small world, and as such there really aren’t that many professionals overall who specialize in the sale and purchase of small businesses – and there’s even fewer who actually know what they’re doing.
Aside from the fact that the professionals who help people buy or sell businesses, known as business brokers, are relatively few in number there is an entire cohort of part-time or fly-by-night imposters who don’t think they need special expertise to help someone with a business transaction. We’ve encountered real estate agents, attorneys, accountants – even dentists pretending they are business brokers that can help you sell or buy a business as their side gig.
What this means is the people (well meaning or not) who are giving you advice on how to use EBITA to value a business or how to properly market your business for sale via a Reddit thread are unlikely to have any idea what they’re talking about.
Business transactions are inherently delicate for a number of reasons. There’s a lot of money changing hands. One person is selling their blood, sweat and tears while another is buying themselves the job they’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. Complex contracts are involved. Everything needs to be done under a veil of confidentiality so the business can stay in one piece.
A transaction involving so many moving pieces needs a careful hand to guide it. Someone who is experienced, qualified, has the industry connections and know-how, understands the possible pitfalls and has the integrity to keep everything above board. That person is a business broker, and probably not the person commenting in your Facebook Group.
What you need in the place of anonymous online advice is a conversation with a practicing, experienced and qualified business broker. Talking with a real person who knows what they’re doing will be exponentially better for you path to business ownership or your business sale than taking terrible advice from people who have no clue what they’re talking about. Calling a business broker can save you from untold amounts of agony by going into the business transaction process with real, factual information.
Do yourself and your future a favor. Don’t take advice from anonymous groups and call a business broker instead.
Have you fallen into the rabbit hole of online advice about buying or selling a business and can’t tell the good advice from the bad? Do you have questions about how a business broker can help you through the transaction process? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.