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How To Stand Out In The Sea Of Business Buyers

Buying a business can be fustrating and confusing!  Here are some tips and suggestions to help you stand out from other business buyers out there and ultimately, find an opportunity that is right for you.
Buying a business is a process that takes time. It can sometimes take years to find the right opportunity. Unfortunately, many buyers want to look at all available options, thinking they’ll recognize what they’re looking for when they see it. That approach is actually a waste of valuable time and energy and can lead to frustration and an end to the search. Or the potential buyer may miss out on great opportunities because they weren’t found early enough or they weren’t ready to move forward with a purchase. I have compiled a list of suggestions that will prove you’re a serious buyer to the business broker and prepare you with tools to successfully navigate the business purchase process.
Suggestion 1: Start with a self assessment - Ask yourself why you want to buy a business.  What types of work activities do you like and what kind of lifestyle do you want to pursue?  Be sure to include your family in the assessment. Make up your mind that you are a really serious buyer. Business brokers get phone calls all the time from buyers who believe that they may make the jump from their weekly paycheck if they uncover the right business. If you believe that you are going to seek out the "perfect business" where the risks are nonexistent and everything is ideal, you are kidding yourself.   

Suggestion 2: Narrow your search and establish financial expectations - Let the business broker know that you have narrowed down the type of business you are searching for. There are some people that scan the business for sale internet sites and inquire on every profitable business. That throws up a red flag to the business broker that the buyer has no notion of what they are looking for and is open to almost everything that "makes money."  Determine how much money you need and want to earn.  Make sure your expectations are in line with the types of businesses you are targeting and the return they can produce.

Suggestion 3: Have your money ready to go - You need to have a considerable amount of money to buy a business even if you are getting financing. If you do not have any money, please do not waste your time or the broker’s time. Business brokers don't want to hear that you have some mystery investor backing you because you don't. Sellers are not likely to 100% finance your transaction and you won't have money to put down on a bank loan. If you don't have capital, you may very well be a serious purchaser, but you are not a viable one. 

Suggestion 4: Put together your resume and a detailed personal financial summary - Nothing impresses a business broker more than a buyer who immediately sends over their resume with their prior experience and evidence that they have the cash to obtain a business. Outline your assets and liabilities.  Identify what you can use for your initial investment.  The personal financial summary serves as proof of your financial wherewithal, so be prepared to share this document with the broker.
Suggestion 5: Fill out the business brokers requested information - If a possible purchaser refuses to sign a standard confidentiality agreement they are not serious. They are either a curious competitor or a good example of the ultimate tire kicker. In addition to the confidentiality agreement, make certain to provide any requested information thoroughly. If a potential purchaser is too lazy to fill out an income statement or a buyer questionnaire, then they probably are not that interested. 

Suggestion 6: Search multiple sources and enlist help - Let your professional advisors (e.g. attorney, accountant, financial planner) know you are looking for a business.  Most importantly, contact business intermediaries who represent businesses within your targeted market.  They will notify you of available companies that meet your criteria and qualifications.  The intermediary is looking out for the seller’s best interests, so you should have experienced counsel to represent you in any transaction.  
In summary, when interested in a business, you want the business broker to be selling you to the seller. Prove to them that you are a qualified, motivated buyer by preparing for your search. Your motivation, lifestyle, expectations, financial statement and résumé will help you develop your acquisition criteria. Identifying and communicating your acquisition criteria, qualifications and experience will save time and frustration and will place you far ahead of less focused buyers.