By Richard Parker: President of The Business Buyer Resource Center and author of How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price©
The search process to find a business is generally the longest stage in the business buying process. It is a time where buyers need to maintain focus and understand that this is in fact a process, with numerous stages to be followed.
There are several potential resources that buyers should use and we will discuss them here.
There are countless businesses listed for sale online and the challenge for buyers is to weed through all of the listings to find the hidden gems. At the same time, it is critically important for buyers not be to too quick to click; meaning, to simply peruse a listing and click to the next one hoping the right one is a click away.
If you come across a listing that offers even the most minimal interest, send an inquiry to the seller. Do not overwhelm the seller with too many questions. There will be time for that later on. The initial inquiry is strictly to get the ball rolling. You simply want to convey that you are interested in the business, you are a serious buyer, and you would like to learn more. It is also recommended that you ask them to forward any necessary documentation you may need to sign as a next step.
If you are serious about buying a business, you have to get the word out. Obviously, this can be a major issue if you are still employed and therefore you will need to do so discreetly. Let colleagues and other professional affiliations know that you are looking to purchase a business and ask them for any recommendations.
It is also valuable to get the word out to accountants and lawyers, and this can be done by a direct letter to them. Often, they have clients who are looking to sell the businesses.
This is one of the most underused yet effective forms of finding a business for sale. Once you have narrowed down the choices and have identified with reasonable certainty what type you want to buy, you may in fact discover there are not a ton available. In these situations,
It is recommended that any such inquiry be done with a formal written letter and, if possible, have your accountant or attorney (preferable) send it on their letterhead (attorney letters ALWAYS get opened). Outline that you are looking to purchase a business in their industry and provide a few bullets of key criteria the business must have (i.e. x number of years in business, customer base, annual revenue, etc.). A well-crafted letter can yield phenomenal results.
While the search to find a business can be time-consuming, it is, of course, a crucial stage. Conduct it with diligence and focus. Set out time every day to look online. Try to avoid being overly selective at the beginning. Keep an open mind, get the word out. The goal is to narrow down potential opportunities so you can then conduct your search with more specific industry focus.
This article represents a fraction of what you’ll learn on this topic in How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price© - the most widely used reference resource and strategy guide for anyone thinking about buying a business. Read a detailed listing of what you'll learn.