If you are in the market to buy a business, then what is one of the first things you will likely do when you find out the name and location of a prospective business? Hit a major search engine like Google and plug in the name.
What many buyers fail to realize, however, is once a seller finds out your name they will do exactly the same thing.
Buying a business is not at all like buying a car. When you are shopping for businesses, you are essentially shopping for a job – so just like a prospective interviewer would do, business sellers are going to look you up.
You also have to consider that the business you buy is someone’s baby, a business where they have invested countless hours and a great deal of money. For most sellers, there is an emotional connection to their business, and as such they won’t be willing to hand over the reins to just anyone. The legacy of their business can be just as important as the check you write.
In addition to the emotional connection, in business sales there is typically a training period of several weeks – so major personality differences between buyer and seller can cause a whole host of problems.
Another major factor that will cause a seller to look you up? Seller financing. In most small business transactions, the seller finances part of the deal. Since they are keeping some skin in the game, it will be very important to know who you (as a buyer) are and if you are the kind of person who will be responsible enough to pay back the debt.
If you are in the market to buy a business, ask yourself this. What happens when someone Googles your name? If you haven’t ever checked, you should.
Your online presence will speak volumes to a seller who has never met you, and in some cases, brokers themselves will even Google you before agreeing to work with you.
What should you do if you are in the market to buy a business? The first thing you should do is set any social media you use for personal use to private. Only those people you know should be able to see things from your personal life, not prospective sellers.
You should set up a professional social media account on a site such as LinkedIn or a more professional Facebook page that sellers and brokers can see. You should also abide by basic social media guidelines that anyone would use if they were going into a job interview. No pictures of drunken debauchery, no rage-infused political rants, no dirty jokes – you get the idea.
If a cursory search for your name turns up nothing but pictures of you partying hard – it may reflect poorly on you as a competent professional and leave sellers uncomfortable with your ability to get the job done. Clean up your social media image before anyone looks you up.
Are you a buyer looking at businesses and hadn’t considered your online image? Would you like to know what else you could do to make yourself more appealing to sellers? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help.
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