The first baby boomers were born in 1946. Those individuals will turn 72 in 2018. Many baby boomers thought about retirement during the recent holiday season with a percentage of them deciding 2018 was the year to retire. The entrepreneurs in the group wishing to sell their businesses for the highest market value will likely retain a business broker in 2018. The question many of them are asking currently is “How do I find a quality business broker?”
The best place to start when identifying potential business brokers to interview is family & friends. There is no substitute for firsthand knowledge & experience shared by a trusted individual from your personal inner circle. If you know someone that sold a business, your research should start with a conversation with that individual. That individual will be able to provide you with insight into the sale process and an assessment of the performance of their business broker in a dynamic environment where questions can be asked relevant to specific knowledge desired & concerns. Phone numbers & email addresses for a recommended business broker can also be obtained.
The next venue to seek referrals of business brokers to interview is trusted professional advisers. Accountants and attorneys are excellent sources of business broker recommendations. It is common for accountants & attorneys to work collaboratively with business brokers on transactions. This experience “working together” on deals provides an excellent venue for assessment of the knowledge, experience, and professional skill set of a business broker. Wealth advisers, bankers, real estate brokers, and insurance professionals can also serve as excellent referral sources of business brokers. A referral provides a reflection on the party making the recommendation, so professionals are generally reluctant to provide the name of an individual that has not impressed them with prior performance.
If a referral is desired outside of your personal network, a great place to obtain a recommendation for a business broker is from a banker that specializes in SBA (Small Business Administration) loans. The SBA publishes a list quarterly of the most active banks financing business acquisition loans by metropolitan area. As an example the following link (https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/wa/seattle/lender-reports/top-lenders-fiscal-year-2016-10-or-more-loans) provides a list of the most active lenders in Seattle during the most recent government fiscal year. A call to any of the lenders and request to speak with a SBA banker will put an entrepreneur quickly in touch with a person that knows which business brokers and firms are successfully completing transactions and employing “best practices” in the area. An entrepreneur brings the business to be sold to a transaction. A business broker is engaged to deliver the sale. There is no better metric to assess a business broker or business brokerage firm than the number of transactions they have completed. The highest market prices and timely sales are delivered by experienced, knowledgeable, business brokers.
One of the benefits of living in 2018 is the availability of information online. Quality business brokers can be found by doing Internet research. Google maps is a great place to start for identifying business brokerage companies to research. A review of business brokerage firm websites will allow for an assessment of the experience, knowledge, professional skill set, and corporate culture of the business brokerage companies serving the industry and geographic location of a specific business. Special review should be conducted to see if past clients are willing to go on the permanent record and provide testimonials in print or video about a business broker or firm. A business or professional that cannot provide testimonials or references is often a business that does not have satisfied customers or experience.
Once business brokers to interview are identified. Face to face meetings are recommended to assess their knowledge, experience, and ability firsthand.
IBA is the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest. Our team of professionals has successfully facilitated over 4000 sales of privately held companies and family businesses since 1975. We readily offer testimonials and references to business owners considering us for representation. The following video presents a group of past clients sharing their impressions of the IBA business sale experience in their own words: https://ibainc.com/why-iba-past-client-perspective/
If you are a Pacific Northwest entrepreneur planning on interviewing business brokers as a step toward retirement in 2018, we would welcome the opportunity to be part of that interview process.
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”.