Why Should I Use A Business Broker?

You’ve come to the decision that buying a business or selling your business is the path that you want to take. The best piece of advice, although biased, I can offer is to retain the services of a business broker or business transfer adviser. Although business brokers usually work on behalf of the seller, there are sell-side business brokers and buy-side advisers. Even if you’re a buyer and you decide not to retain the services of a business broker or transfer adviser, you’ll receive the benefits because a business broker is working with the seller.

The broker is sort of like a clamp that holds things together as the business buyer and seller progress through the business transaction. Below I’m going to explain to you how both business seller and business buyer can and will benefit from the services of a business broker:

Let’s meet-

The good thing about the business broker is, the profession requires face to face meetings. Even though the broker is getting paid by the business seller, the buyer has to meet with the broker in order to view the business as well as so the broker can determine if the buyer is a compatible buyer for the business.

The meeting will be an interview style meeting. Some of the questions that will be asked by the broker are:

1- Can you go into detail about your background?

2- Have you ever purchased a business

3- Do you have easy access to the cash to buy a business?

4- Can you show proof of proceeds on a recent bank statement?

5- How soon are you willing to make a purchase?

In addition to the question and answer portion, you’ll also be given a personal financial statement to fill out and return. Be sure you return this information as soon as possible.

What usually takes place after this meeting is, the business broker will than present compatible business to the buyer. So come prepared with a recent bank statement showing the cash. Time is of great importance. Strike while the fire is hot and move with swiftness.

Expect for the broker to ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The business seller wants to ensure that the word about the business being for sale is kept quite.

As the buyer, you’ll get to see very general financial information about the business of interest and others in the business broker has other businesses available. If you decide that you have serious interest in any of the businesses that are presented, the broker will provide you with more in-depth financial date and also arrange for you to see the business in person.

The broker will act of the best point of contact for the buyer. Any questions or concerns that the buyer may have, the broker can answer all questions concerning the business.

How the business broker helps the seller-

If you’re the owner of a business and you’ve decided to sell, one of the best services that you can retain are the services of a business broker. The broker will oversee the entire process while you continue to run your business.

The business broker will interview all of the buyers. This service by itself is worth the broker fee. Business brokers usually have access to a database of buyers that they’ve acquired over the years. These are buyers that have identified themselves are compatible and financially capable of buying a business. Having access to a list of buyers will speed up the process and help get the business sold while it’s still “hot.”

The business broker will especially prepare a marketing plan for the business in question. A sales prospectus will take time to prepare but your broker will provide you with this required document. In addition, the broker will structure the deal as well as assist the completion of the paper work.

Many owners don’t know how much their business is worth, therefore the broker can assist you with pricing your business. Te pricing of the business is just a starting point. The buyer will get an official appraisal. Between the 2 numbers, the negotiations will start there. Also, you want to ensure that your business is properly priced. You don’t want it to be overpriced not under priced A business that is priced right WILL SELL. The ultimate price of the business will be determined by what it sells for or as brokers like to say-the marketplace.

The business broker is one of the most important advisers that a seller can have on their transaction team. This broker will bring their years of experience to the table. This will help both buyer and seller and ensure both parties walk away happy.

Role Of Business Brokers In Selling A Business

Role of business brokers in selling a business is more important than buying a business. However, there are people who do not understand the importance of the role of business brokers when they decide to sell their business. Irony is that some people are happy with giving more time to the selection of a coffee machine rather than to choosing the right business broker. This is a big mistake on their part and can result in not only the loss of money and time but also sometimes resulting in inability to find any buyers.

Here are some points to consider when you choose the business broker for selling your business. However, it is not possible to get a broker who has all the qualifications yet you must look for experience, knowledge, reliability and compatibility with you.

Reliability:
Reliability is essential because the role of business broker in selling a business is very important. How can you judge whether a particular business is reliable or not? The best method is to contact the references given by the business broker. They are in the best position to tell about how the business broker performed the deal. Ask them whether they are satisfied with the role of business broker or not. Also, make sure that the business broker you are going to hire has the capability of taking the transaction to the end and can follow up.

These references can also give you indications regarding the price they got for selling their business. Could they get the price they were expecting? Also, ask them about the consistency of the business broker with the plan charted out in beginning. They can also tell about the level of knowledge the broker has and his capability of providing the right advice. One very important question that you can ask is if need be would they like to hire the same broker again or not. The answer to this question can help you in taking decision quickly regarding hiring the business broker for selling the business.

If the business broker you are going to hire for selling the business belongs to the association of brokers then this is a point in his favor adding to his reliability. This is because the Associations such as International Business Brokers Association apply very strict ethical rules. Similarly, you can gauge the level of the knowledge by asking some questions. The business broker should not only have completed formal education to perform his job perfectly, but also need to keep himself informed about the changes in the particular industry.

Finally, a tip regarding experience of the business broker you are going to hire. If the business broker has ever owned a business then he is a better choice than the others who never run any business.

What Separates the Good Business Broker From the Bad?

Over the years, I’ve heard a million horror stories from business owners about their experiences with some of the “fly by night” business brokers out there. It’s always the same names and it always makes me wonder, “How did you get hooked up with these people? Why did you hire them?” I mean, I’ve seen some of their work and it’s TERRIBLE!

So, of course I feel bad for the business owner and I begin to question my ability to market my business brokerage services. If only I had been there first. If only these folks knew to call me or one of the other good credible brokers out there rather than the yahoo they ended up using. Yes, you heard me right; there are a lot of good credible business brokers out there. The problem is, there are a lot of bad, unqualified brokers out there as well. I’m in the business so it’s easy for me to tell the difference. But how can you, as the business owner, tell the difference?

Well, that’s a tough question to answer but I’ve been giving it some from thought and I’ve decided that the most important factors that separate the good business brokers from the bad are:

1. Ethics – most horror stories I hear are a result of a lack of ethics by the broker. This is unfortunate and disgraceful in my opinion. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to test a broker’s ethics. My best recommendation is to make sure they’ve achieved their CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) designation from the IBBA (International Business Brokers Association). All CBI’s agree to adhere to the IBBA’s Standards of Professional Conduct and the Code of Ethics. I know acceptance of a code doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s a good start. The second thing I would recommend is to check references. This can be tricky. Like any good job applicant, when you ask for references you will get handed the happiest and most satisfied clients that the broker is confident will put in a good word. So, to me this is a waste of time. Instead, why not call the other professionals in your area. It takes more than just the broker to do a deal. It’s takes an accountant and attorney as well. Call your accountant, have your friends call their accountants, same with your attorney and their attorneys. Not all accountants and attorneys will be close to the transaction marketplace (they tend to specialize) but they will ask around. Chances are they probably work with, know of, or went to school with another accountant or attorney that is involved in transactions. If you’re willing to put some time into checking credentials, sooner or later you will find your answers.

2. Candor / Honesty – Again, this can be difficult to judge for the untrained eye. But, what does your gut tell you? Are you receiving vague answers to your questions? Or, is the business broker you’re interviewing willing to sit down with you and answer every question that you have to the best of their ability, sometimes going above and beyond? If this is the case, usually it’s because they have nothing to hide. And, as a result, don’t have to tiptoe around your questions.

3. Pricing Ability – Being open, honest and ethical is only part of the game. It’s equally as important that the business broker be educated on matters of business valuation. One of the most important factors in selling a business is pricing it right. A mispriced business will either never sell (if overpriced) or fly off the market (if underpriced). Both situations are bad news for you as the business seller. If it’s overpriced it will sit on the market, get stigmatized and be difficult to sell even with a different broker. If it’s underpriced you will not maximize your retirement money. Make sure you ask the business broker you are interviewing if they know how to price a business. Moreover, make them prove it. Ask them to explain the three different approaches to value (Asset, Income and Market). If they don’t know what you’re talking about, RUN!! Ask for samples of the broker’s pricing analyses. Don’t settle for a broker that answers, “I can’t provide that it’s confidential”. Every broker can cleanse some samples and make them generic. Take them home. Review them, see if you would buy the business they present to you. Show it to your accountant and your attorney. Get their thoughts. If you’re not sure whether you’re looking at quality work or not, chances are your accountant or attorney will.

4. Marketing Ability – Remember at the end of the day, your small business is a non-marketable entity. You can’t go online, click a button and get rid of it. Someone has to actively create a market for your business. Ask the broker you are interviewing, “How do you plan to market my business?” Sit back and listen. If all they say is, “I’m going to post it on the internet,” RUN!! You can post it on the internet. For the fee the broker is taking, make sure they’re adding value. Dig deep on this subject. You won’t need to be a marketing guru to determine if the broker has a developed process that works.

5. Reputation – Part of investigating the reputation of the broker is requesting references. Not only client references but asking around for input and insight from other professionals about what business brokers they know and what they know about them. Also, go to the broker’s website; go to industry sites such as http://www.ibba.org. Look up the broker; see what other people are saying about them. Do the TV, newspaper, radio and trade publications value the broker’s opinion? It’s not easy to get quoted in articles, written about in papers, invited to be a guest on TV or radio shows. Professional media outlets do their homework. They can’t afford to put their name next to a non-credible source. A business broker that is taken serious and considered a credible source by mainstream media deserves consideration. Credibility is not bought, it is earned.

6. Courtesy / People Skills – Take the time to interview the broker in person. Never hire a business broker without meeting them. If they’re not willing to take the time to meet with you, chances are they won’t put much effort into selling your business either. Once they’re in front of you, see how they interact with you. Are they personable? Do you trust them? Are they friendly? Are they educated about your business and the business brokerage industry? Make no mistake, this is a people business. People buy from people they like. If you don’t like the person you’re interviewing, chances are neither will a potential buyer for your business.

7. Education / Experience – Business brokers are professional service providers, like accountants, attorney, financial planners, etc. Make sure the person you hire to sell your business (or help you buy one) continually invests in their own education and professional development. Would you hire an attorney that doesn’t keep up with current laws? Would you hire an account that isn’t updated on the tax code? Your business is the largest and most valuable asset that you own. Make sure the person you hire to turn it into cash is someone that stays current on industry trends, government regulations, new pricing methodologies, marketing strategies, etc. Business brokerage is a full time profession. If your broker doesn’t invest in their own professional development, chances are there’s someone else out there that does and will do a better job at selling your business for the highest possible price.

The suggestions above are not fool proof but, they will get you pointed in the right direction. Don’t take the sale of your business lightly. Make sure you do your homework. If you do, the wheat will quickly separate from the chaff.