How to find the best broker to sell your business

How to find the best broker to sell your businessThe best broker to sell your business

A lot of work goes into making a business successful. But nothing lasts forever, even if your business is something you love and watched grow from a tiny baby start up into a fully grown adult money making machine. There comes a time when you want to sell that business.

It may be that you want to work in another sector or want to retire. Whatever the reason you need to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible and the most effective way of making sure this happens is by finding the right broker company.

Consider your Exit Strategy

A lot of people who run seminars or give talks on running a business will talk about having an “exit strategy.” This is when people decide when they want to leave a company and how they intend to do it. However people are only human and the odds are when you work every day on your business you may not have thought of the practical steps needed when you need to sell up with a vague “some time in the future” in your head.

The temptation then is that when you finally do decide enough is enough you may decide to go it alone. After all you’ve set it up and made money for yourself why can’t you sell it yourself?

The reason this approach is not as effective is quite simply the law of averages! If you try and sell a company on your own then it is likely you will only be able to deal with one potential buyer at a time. The danger of this is that if a deal falls through it can mean going back to square one all over again each time, adding further stress and work that you don’t need when someone else can handle it for you!

A broker can deal with a number of clients at once because…well it’s their job. Even if you are robot level efficient there’s only so many meetings you can go to. Depending on who you go with they can also assist on the marketing and finance side as well, all things that could potentially screw up a sale.

Hold A Talent Contest or Beauty Parade

All of these aspects need to be considered when comparing the various types of company broker available to you. In some respects it is like a talent contest and you are the judge- therefore it is up to you to ask the right questions!

The most important question of all is- can you give us references? They ought to be willing to give proof of any claim and be able to supply you with convincing evidence that they can do what they claim to do. Trust your instincts- if the reference seems dodgy, look elsewhere!

Another aspect is the valuation- if they offer a figure that is too high or low then it is best to avoid them. In both cases there is a danger that they have an ulterior motive so it is best to do a little detective work to see the facts behind the figures.

Also get them competing! Don’t be afraid to get ruthless – get a couple of quotes and then call them back saying what the other one offered.

(Note: In the Sell Your Business Store, we offer a beauty parade pack to help you ask the right questions to obtain the best broker, solicitor and financial people!)

The Small Print

ALWAYS READ THE SMALL PRINT!

The odds are they will have various fees that they charge for their work. Do not take what they say at face value.

Part of the problem is finding people you know are reliable, rather than hoping that the people you are contacting are real. Anyone can create an official looking website and anyone can dress up their service with fancy sounding jargon.

Business networking groups are ideal places to go for this- someone usually knows someone else and if they genuinely like the service they offer then they will tell you!

Stay in touch

Even the surest of deals can go down due to unnecessary delays. One of the most frustrating things is to find your perfect deal went wrong because someone didn’t check their email or didn’t respond quickly enough to a phone call.

If the broker is in your local area, pop into their office unannounced before you do the deal. See how they handle the day to day running of a business. Look at the way they arrange their desks, the way they talk with each other. If your business sense starts tingling the odds are something is amiss- in some respects it’s like courting and it is up to you to read the signals to see whether your potential broker is the perfect date or the perfect dud!

Checklist for choosing a broker

In short there are a few things to check over before you choose a broker-

  • Know your exit strategy
  • Set a time frame
  • Do your research
  • Is their approach appropriate for your business?
  • Can they offer assistance with marketing and financing?
  • Ask for testimonials
  • Ask about fees upfront
  • Is their valuation realistic?
  • Compare at least three different company brokers.
  • Ask around at local business networking groups.
  • Make sure they stay in touch with you and keep in contact during the selling process.

Another thing to remember is that there are no guarantees and no broker can promise you definite sales. But like any investment in your business doing your homework and comparing all your options will give you the best possible chance. While it may be hard waving goodbye to your grown up company you can do so knowing it’ll find a good home!

Joanna Miller, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business.  Her specialty is helping owners understand how to prepare and make the most of their business sale process to maximise their company’s value. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase her book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale