Well, mainly for men. I’ve made the observation at the largest conference of business brokers and M&A advisors (the IBBA/M&A Source conference) that the room is mainly filled with men. Older white men, to be politically incorrect about it. Part of the reason, I believe, is that it mirrors business ownership. Indeed, many business brokers used to be business owners. For example, I was a business owner, my partners used to be business owners, and we happen to be white males. I hate to say I’m old, since I’m not quite 50 yet, but I’m not young.
But it doesn’t need to be that way. I was struck by an article I received yesterday that was published in the newsletter of the California Association of Business Brokers (CABB). It was written by Shari Bayne (firstname.lastname@example.org), a senior associate with Vanguard Resource Group in
Business Brokerage: It Isn’t Only For Men
By Shari Bayne
Over the years, I’ve run into many women who are intimidated by the fact that the majority of business brokers are male. They seem to think that just because they are female, they are at a disadvantage in business brokerage. As a result of this widespread point of view, “Women’s Forums” have been formed in both IBBA and CABB; forums created, I guess, to help us poor, disadvantaged female brokers compete with the vast army of bullying male business brokers.
Enough of this nonsense. Is business brokerage really different for women than for men? I’ve given this much thought, and after looking back at my experiences in this industry, I’ve come to the conclusion that women actually possess more innate skills for successful business brokerage than men do.
I’ve been asked by many people, what it takes to be a successful business broker. We all know there’s no college degree that you can obtain for this career, so what does it take to be successful? By looking at what we do every day, we can get insight into what it takes to be successful. Here’s my list of what a business broker does.
- Prospects for listings
- Presents brokerage services to business owners
- Assists the business owner with appropriate pricing for their business
- Lists the business for sale
- Prepares a professional offering package to the marketplace
- Interviews and qualifying potential buyers
- Presents the business to potential buyers
- Assists with an offer to purchase
- Helps the business owner to evaluate offers
- Organizes the due diligence process
- Follows through to a success closing and transfer
To sell a business, the broker must first find a business owner who wants to sell; convince the owner that they have the ability to assist them; help the owner price the business; prepare the marketing package; and, then market the business to prospective buyers. When a buyer has been identified, the broker should be able to assist the buyer and seller in the negotiation of a purchase contract and assist both parties in the due diligence and closing procedures. All of this can be done successfully if the broker has the ability to listen to and understand the motivation of both the seller and the buyer. And ladies, let’s face it, we are the communication experts. While our male counterparts may be able to grunt and groan out the latest scores in the NFL better than we can, we are the masters of person-to-person talk.
So, since we know we’re the best communicators out there, let’s look at the entire skill set needed for business brokerage to see if we lack anything in other areas. Here’s my list of needed skills.
- Sales and marketing skills
- People skills, including communication, empathy and listening abilities
- Problem solving
- Honesty and trustworthiness
- Organization skills and attention to details
- Life experiences and a willingness to learn
Every broker should implement a marketing plan to target potential business sellers, and persistence in required; the phone won’t ring simply because you have made the choice to become a business broker. If there are problems with the business, the broker should be able to understand them fully to ascertain whether or not these problems can be overcome. The broker should possess the quality of honesty, and use it to confront issues and resolve them. And, finally, all successful business brokers must have organizational skills and be able to pay close attention to the details of any deal.
No offense, men, but I think that the typical woman in business excels in persistence, honesty and organizational skills.
It’s also certainly true that a successful business broker should have a background in business ownership, business management, business financial management and/or business sales and marketing. Fortunately, our society has given us women many opportunities to gain these business skills over the years. And, in addition, there numerous opportunities for anyone – male or female – to get training in key areas of business brokerage through CABB and IBBA. So, if you are a woman who might has excellent sales and marketing skills, but don’t know much about business financials or business management, the doors are open for you to get training.
So in closing, I have just this to say: Ladies, start your engines! Let’s go out and show the industry how good we are at being successful business brokers.