Where Do I Look to Find a Business?
Your arrangement with the business broker could be on an hourly or a flat fee basis. If the broker is a member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), he is required to abide by certain ethical standards established by the IBBA, and if he is a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), Certified Business Appraiser (CBA), or Certified Business Counselor (CBC), this adds even more credit ability to your choice.
Local Chambers of Commerce - Talk to the people at your local Chamber of Commerce. They usually know a great deal about the local business community and may be able to give you free leads of firms that are for sale, perhaps before they are formally advertised.
Accountants, Attorneys and Bankers - These professionals can be the best sources of leads to good businesses even before they are on the market. Many business owners tend to confide in their accountants and lawyers about things they would not even tell their priest or psychiatrist. Often, these professionals are aware of the decision to sell the business long before it is put on the market. If you have friends or associates that are CPA's, lawyers or bankers, talk to them and advise them of your business interests. Typically, they will have a vested interest in finding a friendly buyer like you for a retiring client's business, since they will usually lose that client if the business is sold to a stranger.
Investors - Often, you will see advertisements for investors or venture capitalists seeking absentee ownership in a particular industry. Some of these investors look for an operations person and purchase the business together as a team, whereby, one provides the money, while the other provides the operational expertise.
The Direct Approach - Often, if you see a small business that you think you might like to buy, the simplest approach will be to talk to the owner and see if they have an interest in selling. The owner may not have had serious thoughts about selling the business before, but the appearance of an interested buyer is not only somewhat flattering, but may be the push they needed to sell out. Many businesses are bought and sold this way every day.