Making the Most Out of Selling Your Small Business at Retirement

Retirement is the holy grail of the working individual’s lifetime. Having the free time to travel, spend time with grandchildren or pets, or even hitting the links at the nearest golf course is what gets many through the forty plus years of hard work and dedication they commit to day after day. When it comes to retiring for those who own small businesses, the same thought comes to mind. How do I sell my business and make the most profit?

Selling a business in today’s economy is not an easy task. The unemployment rate is at an all time high and many individuals are seeking the help of the government in the form of stimulus checks and unemployment income. What does that mean for the small business seller? Simply put, help is needed. It is near impossible to sell a small business alone or without the help of a small business broker. According to the Business Brokerage Press, the average business broker has a 14-24% success rate, where as an individual sale may only be effective up to 2% of the time. That’s almost ten times the success.

Finding the right broker can take some time and research, but it is well worth the effort. The right broker can provide your business with the exposure it needs and the help you need to find the perfect buyer. Business brokers are a part of every aspect of the selling process, from advising, advertising the business through a network of buyers, screening potential buyers, structuring the sale (including valuation) and all the negotiations there out. Business brokers also guarantee complete confidentiality and identity safe guarding.

Retirement should be enjoyed, not spent worrying about income. Make the most out of your retirement years. Work with a business broker to obtain the maximum profit from the sale of your small business and leave the legacy you deserve.

Business Broker Network

A business broker network is basically a group that has a number of independent business brokers or brokerage firms. These firms could be based in different countries. Such network groups offer a much wider range of business opportunities to their clients. The network groups are able to offer more businesses for sale or purchase. So if you want to buy, sell or start a new business, you could give one such network group a try.

There are several network groups in existence. Some of them specialize in creating business opportunities in certain geographical areas. But many of them are not region-specific, as their network has firms from various parts of the world.

The members of a business broker network readily share their databases with investors, corporate entities seeking mergers and acquisitions, and individuals who could be helpful in creating a business opportunity. The common access to this wide database helps you to meet the demand of your clients, not only at the local level but also at national and international levels.

The advantage of a business broker network is that one does not have to go to a large number of business brokerage firms. The brokers who are a part of this network are often known as affiliates. Many network groups keep on upgrading the technological and financial tools to ensure better co-ordination among its members. It also prepares various professional reports at regular intervals for the affiliates.

If you would like to be a part of one such network group, you can do so by visiting the local office of any of these groups, or by contacting them online. The association with a large and reputed group could give a major boost to your business, as you can expand your client base not only across the nation, but even across the globe.

Business Brokers – How to Choose the Right One

The vast majority of small businesses are sold without the assistance of business brokers.

But if you do decide the hire a broker, here are some suggestions on how to pick the right one and how to structure the agreement in your favor.

What Business Is The Broker Actually In?

In many states there is no training or certification needed to become a business broker. In other states, brokers are required to hold a real estate license.

In these states it’s common to find real estate agents that do business brokering as a side business. If you deal with a broker who is also a real estate agent, make sure that being a business broker is more than just his hobby.

You will pay a pretty penny for the broker’s expertise and experience – you should make sure they have that experience when it comes to selling businesses and not just experience selling houses.

Questions To Ask

If you hire a broker you will be working with them closely for months to come; they will have access to your most confidential business records; the amount of money you put in your pocket at closing will be influenced heavily by the quality of work they do.

Therefore, you absolutely must check them out.

Here are some questions you should ask any prospective broker before hiring him:

1. How long have you been a broker?
2. Have you ever owned a business?
3. How many businesses similar to mine have you helped sell?
4. Can I see a blank version of your Listing Agreement?
5. What percentage of you income comes from brokering and how much from real estate (If applicable)

Ask them to provide you with references from previous clients. Then, I suggest you do something very unusual: Actually call the broker’s references!
I know a lot of people ask for references just to see how the person will react when asked (and to see if they actuality have any). But you can learn a lot about the broker’s reliability and professionalism by talking to people who dealt with that broker when they were in the exact same spot you are in.

Business Broker Fees

There are two benefits a broker can provide the business seller. First, he can locate potential buyers while maintaining the seller’s confidentiality. And second, a broker will qualify these potential business buyers so the seller saves time by not having to deal with weak prospects.

The big negative of dealing with a business broker is his fee, which averages 10-12% of the sale price. This fee is charged to the seller.

There is also a minimum fee. A very small business will pay a flat amount, typically $8-$10,000, instead of the commission. For a business worth $50,000 this minimum fee actually works out to be a higher percentage than the 10-12% industry average. But as a matter of practice, brokers usually won’t be interested in your business unless the asking price is above $100,000.

These fees are the reason most business owners choose to sell their business themselves and rely on their lawyers and accountants for the professional assistance they need.

The Broker Agreement

If you decide to use a broker you’ll be asked to sign a broker agreement which will detail the his fees. If possible, have your agreement include the following clauses:

Timing of Payments – Have it written into the agreement that the broker’s fee will be paid at the time you receive the purchase price – not at the time the sale is closed. This way, if you finance part of the sale price over a number of years, you pay the business broker as you get the money, not all up front.

Length Of Agreement – Your listing agreement should be for a limited time. If the broker locates the buyer within that time he gets paid. Be careful of lengthy agreements that lock you in with one business broker for more than 6 months. If he doesn’t produce, you want to be able to try other options. A 6 month business broker agreement is the longest you should allow. However, because selling a business can be a lengthy process, 3 months is usually too little time for the broker to find the right buyer. Try to settle on something between 3 and 6 months. If after six months, you haven’t closed the deal but you think the broker has done a good job, you’re always free to extend the agreement. But you want to be free to decide on an extension 6 months from now, not today.

Broker’s Guarantee – Include a paragraph stating that if you find the buyer, you don’t have to pay the commission. Without this clause, the broker is usually paid no matter who locates the buyer. Before signing any listing agreement, it is best to have your attorney review it to make sure your interests are protected.