Basic Services Businesses – A Time Tested Road to Entrepreneurial Success

Aug 31, 2021

A universal set of activities exist that are found in every society. The activities include sanitation, grooming, security, mobility, and creating, obtaining, & preparing food. It is difficult for a person to live a healthy, productive life without some level of engagement with this basic set of skills. A step up from personally doing these activities is to hire or delegate them. If services are hired out or delegated, an opportunity for entrepreneurship is created. Some of the lowest risk businesses to buy and own are ones that provide basic services. IBA as the largest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest has sold hundreds of basic services companies during our 46-year history in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.

The following is a group of basic services companies in the economy worthy of assessment for entrepreneurship:

Sanitation – One of the first lessons we are taught by our parents is to wash our hands.  From that platform we are taught to clean ourselves, our living space, and things.  With the exception of our personal bodies, business models exist to assist us with washing and maintaining virtually everything else in our lives.  A common delegated cleaning activity is our homes and businesses creating a large economy of janitorial businesses offering employment and financial opportunity.  These businesses can range from one person operations to large companies with middle management infrastructure.  They can be independent businesses or franchises, like the Eastside Molly Maids franchise (, IBA transitioned ownership of in 2020.

Along with ourselves and living space, a very important item to keep clean is our clothing.  Clean apparel is fundamental for professional and social engagement in society.  As an entrepreneur, a business owner can engage with this activity through the sale of appliances, as a party that washes and dry cleans clothing, someone who provides self-service laundry facilities, or a combination of the last two.  Coin laundromats have been historically one of the most popular types of businesses to own due to the low labor contribution required and the cash basis of the business model.  If this type of business interests you, IBA recently brought a three location laundromat on the market in the Seattle metropolitan area (

The average person spends eight hours and twenty-two minutes a week in their automobile (  It is logical therefore that keeping our personal vehicles clean is a primary sanitation activity for a large segment of the population.   The choice is whether to wash the car yourself, an activity, in my opinion, that offers a wonderful sense of accomplishment and Zen like time for thought and reflection, or to delegate it.  Delegation can either be to a professional, auto detail business or an automated process, car wash.  Both have the ability to achieve time & budget goals appropriate for the situation.  If owning a car wash is of interest, the following business is presently represented for sale by IBA in Oregon:

Grooming –  Clean is the foundation to a strong public appearance.  The next step up the ladder is grooming.  Beauty is a $532 billion industry in the United States ( touching virtually every person while creating financial opportunities for the person cutting hair in their home to publicly traded companies influencing how we look, smell, and dress.  IBA has a long history of selling businesses in this sector from franchised hair care business models to schools that provide the staff for the industry to medical spas that address issues utilizing highly trained & educated professionals.

Grooming, however, is not limited to our bodies.  It extends to our pets and homes.  20+ years ago, I sold Wan Kim a dog grooming salon, a platform he has used as a first-generation immigrant to America to put both his daughters through medical school.  It is one of my proudest accomplishments as a business broker.  If you live in Seattle, I strongly recommend his community favorite dog grooming establishment, La Coupe (  I am equally delighted to refer Harley Schmidt of the Hale Company (, an individual that has bought two companies from IBA, if you are seeking a professional to groom your property.

Mobility – The mass transit system available in the Pacific Northwest only offers limited transportation options to the population to get to and from work, school, and other activities.  This creates a reliance on personal vehicles.  A personal vehicle that does not operate fails to provide satisfactory transportation services.   This creates a strong need for automobile repair and service businesses, an entrepreneurial niche with the ability to create loyal, reoccurring revenue customers.  IBA is commonly recognized as the regional market leader for facilitating the sale of privately held companies and family businesses in this sector of the economy with our experienced, highly skilled multiple professional transaction division focused on projects in this area.  Currently, we are working on transactions in King, Pierce, Kitsap, Whatcom, Clark, and Multnomah Counties in Washington & Oregon involving automobile and truck service & repair companies.   We also have knowledge and experience facilitating transactions that involve  companies selling and servicing boats, planes, and bicycles, in addition to a slate of trucking and transportation businesses moving people and cargo.

Security – If a person does not feel safe, they will not live and work in comfort.   Many privately held companies and family businesses fill security niches to enhance public sector services and provide state of mind.  IBA has a strong reputation in this sector for being able to properly value businesses, create a robust marketplace for the entity, and facilitate sales in an environment of confidentiality employing best practices.

Food – Most people can live one to two months without food (, although the mental and emotional challenge of the process would bring the best of us to our knees in a few days.  The provision of food can take many forms for an entrepreneur from agriculture to distribution to manufacturing to table service.  Multiple divisions from IBA’s deep and talented team of professional intermediaries engage with food creation, transportation, and provision businesses.   If you are interested in selling a store, bakery, winery, or restaurant we would welcome the opportunity to provide an overview of our client services.

Winston Churchill famously said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  As an entrepreneur one element to assess when creating a business is the size of the marketplace.  No marketplace is larger than the provision of basic needs and services to the population.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.