What is a Business Broker
The principal value of a business broker is to act as a buffer between the buyer and the seller. A broker can say certain things to a buyer and certain things to a seller and wind up with a productive discussion. The broker can tell the owner the price is too high, relay what has to be done to make a deal–very openly and candidly–and discuss how the differences in viewpoint can be ironed out effectively.
If you’re in the market to buy an existing business, a broker can help you find businesses for sale that fit your parameters, including location, industry and size. Brokers can offer assistance in several ways:
- Prescreening businesses for you. Good brokers turn down many of the businesses they’re asked to sell, either because the seller won’t provide full financial disclosure or because the business is overpriced. Going through a broker helps you avoid these bad risks.
- Helping you pinpoint your interests. A good broker starts by finding out about your skills and interests, then helps you select the right business for you. With the help of a broker, you may discover that an industry you had never considered is the ideal one for you.
- Negotiating. During the negotiating process is when brokers really earn their keep. They help both parties stay focused on the ultimate goal and smooth over problems.
- Assisting with paperwork. Brokers know the latest laws and regulations affecting everything from licenses and permits to financing and escrow. They also know the most efficient ways to cut through red tape, which can slash months off the purchase process. Working with a broker reduces the risk that you’ll neglect some crucial form, fee or step in the process.
When it comes to selling your business, finding the right buyer can be time-consuming and daunting if you try to do it yourself. A seasoned business broker can read the market, knows who’s buying what and who’s got resources, and can weed out the so-called “tire kickers” from serious buyers with sufficient financial resources who are well-suited to run a business like yours. They will also ensure that news of the sale remains confidential, that loyal customers, staff, vendors and suppliers find out only when you’re ready to let them know.
Then there are administrative issues. An experienced business broker knows what paperwork to file, and when. They also coordinate efforts between lawyers, CPAs, bankers, insurance agents and others.
While it costs money to contract with a broker to sell your business, think of the commission you’d pay him or her as a kind of insurance. Your broker will protect your investment in the business by placing the proper value on your business, finding the right buyer, getting you the best price possible, protecting the confidentiality of the sale, handling all negotiations, ensuring that all transactions are legal, and seeing that the transition to new ownership is as wrinkle-free as possible.
One of the key functions of a business broker is to act as a cushion between the buyer and the
seller and negotiate the details of the deal at a time when emotions can, and do, run high. A small business is often one of the biggest assets a business owner has, one which he or she has spent considerable time and money building. An experienced broker knows how to price a business and can toot the business’s horn in a way you might not be able to. The buyer can ask the broker pointed questions that might be difficult to ask you directly and get the answers he or she needs. The broker can also help answer any questions or resolve any problems that develop during the course of the sale.