If you are thinking about buying a business, your first step should involve looking for someone to help you find the right business for you. The right professional for the job is called a business broker – someone who specializes in helping people buy and sell existing businesses.
In our industry there are a lot of fly-by-night impostors who think that dabbling in the business broker profession is something that can be done on the side to make some extra money. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The business market and businesses themselves are very complex, and each business and each business transaction is unique. Helping people buy and sell businesses isn’t something you can do without the knowledge, experience and focus necessary to successfully reach a closing table. We’ll put it this way, you wouldn’t trust a general practitioner to do reconstructive plastic surgery on your face, you would use a plastic surgeon instead. Why? They are a specialist. Business brokers are specialists too.
The fly-by-night impostors come in all forms. We’ve come across lawyers, doctors and accountants who have tried to pass themselves off as someone who could help someone buy a business – but by far the worst offenders are real estate agents.
A real estate agent is a specialist in the buying and selling of homes and property, so many in that profession think they can seamlessly transition into helping people buy and sell businesses. Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. A home and a business are completely different animals, the business market operates by different rules and the set of skills needed for a successful closing on a house are completely different than those needed to reach the closing table for a business.
Many real estate agents attempt to dabble in the realm of business brokers by offering to help a client who already bought a house find a business. These agents call us and try to work out some kind of deal where they will represent their buyer clients in the business transaction. Whenever this happens, any business broker worth their salt will refuse to work with a real estate agent in this way.
Why? Why can’t I use the real estate agent I already know and trust?
You can’t because that real estate agent can’t help you buy a business. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing. As business brokers we would never try to sell you a car or manufacturing equipment for the same reason – we would have no idea what we were doing in that industry.
What should happen instead? Your real estate agent refers you to a qualified and experienced business broker, and they get a referral fee for the introduction. They essentially get paid for doing nothing more than exchanging phone numbers, so for the agent it’s a great deal. You as a buyer then get the proper help you need to successfully buy a business. Everybody wins.
The point here is you need to be suspicious of anyone who is not a full-time business broker who wants to help you buy a business. Save yourself the headache and get the right help from the start.
Are you thinking about buying a business and want to know more about the difference between a business broker and a real estate agent? Would you like to know more about the process of buying a business? Ask us! Please leave us any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.