Finding a good business to purchase can be challenging. Many of the businesses on the market at any given time are overpriced or “challenged” in some way. If you also consider that you are probably interested in a certain type of business in a certain location, it can definitely be a trial.
Like most items for sale these days, almost all small to medium sized businesses are advertised on the web. There are a lot of business-for-sale web sites, but a few have risen to the top and you can view most businesses for sale at these top sites. Try www.bizbuysell.com, www.bizquest.com and www.businessesforsale.com . In addition, you can use www.mergernetwork.com to look for a little larger firm. For California, try www.bizben.com in addition to the others.
You can look on the individual broker’s websites (for example, our www.compasspointcapital.com site lists the businesses we have for sale), but any broker worth their salt will also list on the business for sale sites. I wouldn’t bother with the individual sites until I actually found a company and wanted a little more information. Often the broker web site will list a little more information than the generic listings. Of course, for the good stuff you’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Most of these web sites now have email alerts that will email you new listings according to your criteria. It is well worth signing up for as many of these as you can in order to capture new listings. As I’ve mentioned before in my post on being a good buyer, you typically want to jump on the good listings as they may not last long.
You can contact a broker/advisor and have them look for a business for you, but honestly business brokers make their living mainly by representing sellers and selling their businesses. I personally would not depend on a broker to find a business unless I paid them to focus on that task. It doesn’t hurt to call a few brokers to let them know what you are looking for (especially since they may have a new listing coming up), but do the internet searching yourself and get on those email lists.
Once you find a business you can have a broker represent you (or not) to collect the information and start the process of actually buying the business.
If you are serious about a certain type of business, some business brokers can do a custom search for you. I’m doing one of these now, and I’ll write about that soon.