Business Brokers – How to Choose the Right One

The vast majority of small businesses are sold without the assistance of business brokers.

But if you do decide the hire a broker, here are some suggestions on how to pick the right one and how to structure the agreement in your favor.

What Business Is The Broker Actually In?

In many states there is no training or certification needed to become a business broker. In other states, brokers are required to hold a real estate license.

In these states it’s common to find real estate agents that do business brokering as a side business. If you deal with a broker who is also a real estate agent, make sure that being a business broker is more than just his hobby.

You will pay a pretty penny for the broker’s expertise and experience – you should make sure they have that experience when it comes to selling businesses and not just experience selling houses.

Questions To Ask

If you hire a broker you will be working with them closely for months to come; they will have access to your most confidential business records; the amount of money you put in your pocket at closing will be influenced heavily by the quality of work they do.

Therefore, you absolutely must check them out.

Here are some questions you should ask any prospective broker before hiring him:

1. How long have you been a broker?
2. Have you ever owned a business?
3. How many businesses similar to mine have you helped sell?
4. Can I see a blank version of your Listing Agreement?
5. What percentage of you income comes from brokering and how much from real estate (If applicable)

Ask them to provide you with references from previous clients. Then, I suggest you do something very unusual: Actually call the broker’s references!
I know a lot of people ask for references just to see how the person will react when asked (and to see if they actuality have any). But you can learn a lot about the broker’s reliability and professionalism by talking to people who dealt with that broker when they were in the exact same spot you are in.

Business Broker Fees

There are two benefits a broker can provide the business seller. First, he can locate potential buyers while maintaining the seller’s confidentiality. And second, a broker will qualify these potential business buyers so the seller saves time by not having to deal with weak prospects.

The big negative of dealing with a business broker is his fee, which averages 10-12% of the sale price. This fee is charged to the seller.

There is also a minimum fee. A very small business will pay a flat amount, typically $8-$10,000, instead of the commission. For a business worth $50,000 this minimum fee actually works out to be a higher percentage than the 10-12% industry average. But as a matter of practice, brokers usually won’t be interested in your business unless the asking price is above $100,000.

These fees are the reason most business owners choose to sell their business themselves and rely on their lawyers and accountants for the professional assistance they need.

The Broker Agreement

If you decide to use a broker you’ll be asked to sign a broker agreement which will detail the his fees. If possible, have your agreement include the following clauses:

Timing of Payments – Have it written into the agreement that the broker’s fee will be paid at the time you receive the purchase price – not at the time the sale is closed. This way, if you finance part of the sale price over a number of years, you pay the business broker as you get the money, not all up front.

Length Of Agreement – Your listing agreement should be for a limited time. If the broker locates the buyer within that time he gets paid. Be careful of lengthy agreements that lock you in with one business broker for more than 6 months. If he doesn’t produce, you want to be able to try other options. A 6 month business broker agreement is the longest you should allow. However, because selling a business can be a lengthy process, 3 months is usually too little time for the broker to find the right buyer. Try to settle on something between 3 and 6 months. If after six months, you haven’t closed the deal but you think the broker has done a good job, you’re always free to extend the agreement. But you want to be free to decide on an extension 6 months from now, not today.

Broker’s Guarantee – Include a paragraph stating that if you find the buyer, you don’t have to pay the commission. Without this clause, the broker is usually paid no matter who locates the buyer. Before signing any listing agreement, it is best to have your attorney review it to make sure your interests are protected.

Online Small Business Banking

In the digital age every bank has an online presence, from my little credit union to the big national players. However, not all banks are geared toward serving small business via the internet and, while they all offer you a lot of promises and maybe a flashy new toaster oven, not all of them offer you the services that you need at a competitive price. Here’s what to look for and how to spot those that offer online small business banking from the poseurs.

Customer Service and Big vs. Small Banks

One thing that you may read is how important it is to “cultivate relationships” with your banker and how important your banker is in expediting and even deciding whether or not you get a loan. While this may still be true in the smaller banks, in larger regional or national banks you will never, ever meets the person who approves your loan. A buddy of mine who was a big shot at a major bank before ditching it all to go into the Peace Corps said that the big banks create a strong separation from the banker that you meet, who is basically a sales person, and the person who decides, who is basically an accountant. So skip bribing your banker with chocolate truffles or bottles of bourbon. In fact, if you already bought the “gifts,” just send them here and I’ll gladly dispose of them for you for free!

Similarly, once the recommendation for business people was to keep all their banking with one bank, in order to build up a relationship of trust with that bank. Now, however, the idea of relationship is breaking down and, thanks to the internet and the relative ease of online banking, small businesses can cherry pick the best services off a smorgasbord of banks just like the Bigs do. In fact, the biggest reason that I can see of deliberately keeping all services with a single bank is not having to remember more than one sign-on, password, and pin!

What Your Bank Should Be Able to Do for You

Business Checking Account

One of the essential elements of running your own business is treating it as a separate entity distinct from your own personal affairs or the affairs of your other businesses or investments. Failing to treat your business as a separate entity opens up numerous potential legal and tax consequences that could end up being very costly or even financially disastrous to you. Opening up a business banking account is one essential act that helps establish your business as a separate entity. For most business the key to the checking account is functionality, forget interest rates and a few dollars difference in cost. The key questions are:

  • Can you use the web site to pay pre-pay bills, transfer money, accept online payments and whatever other essential services that your business might need?
  • Are you able to easily download information from the online site to QuickBooks Online or whatever other accounting software that you might be using?
  • Do they have the highest level of online security that is convenient for you?
  • Are they relatively light on “hidden fees” that $5 and $10 you to death just to be able to perform regular, essential operations of your business?

Security

Small businesses run by new entrepreneurs often have lower standards of security and this is especially true when it comes to banking and banking online. The smalls just don’t have the expertise nor the payrolls stuffed with I.T. professionals to keep up with the Trojans and frauds that cyber-criminals use to prey upon the unfortunate, and the unwary. You want the highest level of security possible but without making it so inconvenient on yourself that you aren’t fully able to take advantage of the online services. For example, while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala I often had to do my banking from internet cafes, and not always with my laptop that was impractical to lug around. When Chase, my original bank, changed the security so that I had to go through a complicated and time-consuming process every time I tried to access my account from a different computer I had to change banks (rather, I added a new bank) because that just wasn’t doable for me.

Loans and Lines of Credit

Loans are a prime area of shopping around and using the power of the internet to shave a fraction of a point off the interest rate. However, if you can’t pay the loan through an electronic transaction between the bank of your checking account and the bank that services the loan and make that payment for free then who cares about a little reduction of the interest rate. I like to look around for the best deal and then ask my primary bank if they can match it, just to keep my life as simple as possible.

Credit Cards

One of the easiest ways to make payments these days is by credit card and you will want at least one that is exclusively used for business purposes. There is no “best” credit card for small business and usually your bank will be able to provide you one. Keep in mind that you want one that is easy to set up and maintain electronically, that is widely accepted (especially if you travel for business), and has a high enough limit for what you need. Remember that building up credit for your business is just like building up credit personally, the better your history the higher your limit will be.

In Conclusion

Starting up a small business can be intimidating and the days when you could have a banker hold your hand and guide you through the process are long gone. The flip side of that is the incredible amount of information available to you at your fingertips. Another advantage is that you are no longer geographically limited, a world of banks is waiting to serve you! Just remember to keep in mind the services that you need, those that you don’t need, and those that you need but could be found at another bank for a better price. Happy banking!

Why 2013 Saw a Rise in Small Business Sales in California

If you are contemplating selling your business in the state of California, it may interest you to know that business sales for 2013 were up from 2012. Selling a business is a big and sometimes difficult decision. Even so, many business owners find this recent increase in sales to be quite comforting, especially if they want some security to know that there is a stronger market out there for selling. In fact, many potential buyers hope that these positive numbers will induce more businesses on the fence about listing their business will knowing that the market is in a healthier place for business sales in the state.

Small Business Sales Increase in California

The rate of small business sale has increased throughout the Golden State. In 2012, reports show that 14,368 small business operations were sold in total. In 2013, that number grew to 14,764 completed sale transactions. Of course, experts suggest that the increase may not be felt as substantially in some counties as others, which is typically to be expected, but that overall these good numbers reflect a new trend in upward sales that is likely to continue in 2014. Many factors appear to be linked to the increase, but one of the main reasons why these sales are going through is because buyers have better access to funding sources.

Sales in Large Counties Mixed

Some of California’s largest counties may not be feeling the increase yet, but that likelihood could change as more California businesses may be hitting the market for sale in 2014. Certainly, large counties like Los Angeles County are hoping to see more sales as a thriving business-for-sale market is a strong indication of an overall strong economy. Increased business sales are linked to better job growth too. The increase is doubly important in light of the fact that the state was losing businesses at a rate of about five percent.

What is Triggering the Rise?

While better access to money is at the heart of the increase, there may be other factors involved. For instance, experts believe that an improving house market as well as an improved stock market may also be supporting the increase in California business sales. Many small business owners also appeared to be waiting to list their business for sale in California until the market began to shape up.

Do You Have a California Business for Sale or Want to Buy One?

Increases or decreases aside, it can help the process of buying and selling to contract with a business broker. Their services can help viable buyers and sellers to sync up more quickly and effectively. Business brokers stay current with the sale market and understand the ins and outs of the buying and selling process. Their expertise can certainly impact the nature of the sale and the time frame in which a sale can be made. Contact a business broker if you plan to sell your California business or hope to purchase one.

MarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingvehicle technologies electricalElectrical System VehicleWesterly LawyersHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and Garden Home and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProduct ProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessstrok.us outrok.us mtotrok.us oiitrok.us peitrok.us aelytrok.us filmfoodtrok.us brathtrok.us ooaakestrok.us oystowtrok.us ursandpinstrok.us devadtrok.us viofreklestrok.us bakiipitytrok.us thelsewifetrok.us unpspoontrok.us siblymoretrok.us vegetrok.us motoytrok.us nowningtrok.us smaloguetrok.us mouteruptrok.us haitehippytrok.us stoodqtrok.us ofeaesundaytrok.us karunuitrok.us myluvistrok.us myonmotrok.us vintseholdtastrok.us quiandytrok.us statetalestrok.us britdesigntrok.us riellakirstintrok.us jergurtistrok.us jordemilytrok.us joyknudsentrok.us luenhalltrok.us simrenetrok.us realroberttrok.us storiestrok.us thendahlstrok.us vestlifetrok.us whideountstrok.us txstephenstrok.us ashandtaytrok.us lromneytrok.us tuerperewtrok.us bangbagstrok.us odydaytrok.us akstakisstrok.us bluesindigotrok.us dabaloghtrok.us jaranottagetrok.us jaypatotetrok.us medladytrok.us prettylady21trok.us shellooktrok.us thegildedmoosetrok.us twohomestrok.us kristineampbelltrok.us gatohytrok.us pixfeedtrok.us subjetifytrok.us liZaeshoetrok.us alihtsupakestrok.us sumleedingtrok.us elinaminntrok.us kurashiarekoretrok.us tellyoutodaytrok.us uyutrok.us hineriorstrok.us aysmingtrok.us sarahshifttrok.us sorrisitrok.us thetvelblogtrok.us raflbournetrok.us theshopbugtrok.us iaoesignstrok.us deoratedlifetrok.us fromalofttrok.us labohemmetrok.us ofestherleetrok.us desderovertrok.us reatyhanneltrok.us mihearhtrok.us missiesuetrok.us notodaynottodaytrok.us paperokettrok.us purplejantrok.us sophiehensontrok.us sppikletrok.us theindsessionstrok.us swtpnaitrok.us adanetrok.us aploriggstrok.us bywathemoontrok.us folkitytrok.us taylaesigntrok.us betodreamstrok.us eots.us eoou.us eomto.us eooii.us eopei.us eoaely.us eofilmfood.us eobrath.us eoooaakes.us eooystow.us eoursandpins.us eodevad.us eoviofrekles.us eobakiipity.us eothelsewife.us eounpspoon.us eosiblymore.us eovege.us eomotoy.us eonowning.us eosmalogue.us eomouterup.us eohaitehippy.us eostoodq.us eoofeaesunday.us eokarunui.us eomyluvis.us eomyonmo.us eovintseholdtas.us eoquiandy.us eostatetales.us eobritdesign.us eoriellakirstin.us eola.euter.us eojergurtis.us eojordemily.us eojoyknudsen.us eoluenhall.us eosimrene.us eorealrobert.us eoseotories.us eothendahls.us eovestlife.us eowhideounts.us eotxstephens.us eoashandtay.us eolromney.us eotuerperew.us eobangbags.us eoodyday.us eoakstakiss.us eobluesindigo.us eodabalogh.us eojaranottage.us eojaypatote.us eomedlady.us eoprettylady21.us eoshellook.us eothegildedmoose.us eotwohomes.us eokristineampbell.us eogatohy.us eopixfeed.us eosubjetify.us eoliZaeshoe.us eoalihtsupakes.us eosumleeding.us eoelinaminn.us eokurashiarekore.us eotellyoutoday.us eouyu.us eohineriors.us eoaysming.us eosarahshift.us eosorrisi.us eothetvelblog.us eoraflbourne.us eotheshopbug.us eoiaoesigns.us eodeoratedlife.us eofromaloft.us eolabohemme.us eoofestherlee.us eodesderover.us eoreatyhannel.us eomihearh.us eomissiesue.us eonotodaynottoday.us eopaperoket.us eopurplejan.us eosophiehenson.us eosppikle.us eotheindsessions.us eoswtpnai.us eoadane.us eoaploriggs.us eobywathemoon.us eofolkity.us eotaylaesign.us eobetodreams.us strok.us outrok.us otrok.us oiitrok.us peitrok.us aelytrok.us odtrok.us thtrok.us kestrok.us towtrok.us ndpinstrok.us dtrok.us klestrok.us tytrok.us wifetrok.us ontrok.us moretrok.us etrok.us oytrok.us ningtrok.us guetrok.us teruptrok.us hippytrok.us stoodqtrok.us esundaytrok.us nuitrok.us istrok.us motrok.us dtastrok.us dytrok.us etalestrok.us esigntrok.us tintrok.us latrok.us rtrok.us rtistrok.us nudsentrok.us nhalltrok.us renetrok.us berttrok.us iestrok.us ahlstrok.us lifetrok.us deountstrok.us phenstrok.us dtaytrok.us eytrok.us perewtrok.us bagstrok.us daytrok.us akisstrok.us indigotrok.us loghtrok.us ttagetrok.us patotetrok.us adytrok.us tylady21trok.us ooktrok.us dedmoosetrok.us twohomestrok.us ampbelltrok.us trok.us edtrok.us etifytrok.us hoetrok.us upakestrok.us edingtrok.us aminntrok.us ksakoretrok.us teutodaytrok.us uutrok.us hirstrok.us aysngtrok.us sashittrok.us soritrok.us thlogtrok.us rafurnetrok.us thopbugtrok.us iagnstrok.us deedlifetrok.us frofttrok.us labommetrok.us ofeherleetrok.us desrovertrok.us reaanneltrok.us mihhtrok.us missuetrok.us notodaytrok.us pakettrok.us purantrok.us sopnontrok.us spletrok.us tionstrok.us swtnaitrok.us adatrok.us apriggstrok.us bythemoontrok.us fotytrok.us taylsigntrok.us betodamstrok.us saboe.us ouaboe.us oaboe.us oiiaboe.us peiaboe.us aelyaboe.us odaboe.us thaboe.us kesaboe.us towaboe.us ndpinsaboe.us daboe.us klesaboe.us tyaboe.us wifeaboe.us onaboe.us moreaboe.us eaboe.us oyaboe.us ningaboe.us gueaboe.us terupaboe.us hippyaboe.us stoodqaboe.us esundayaboe.us nuiaboe.us isaboe.us moaboe.us dtasaboe.us dyaboe.us etalesaboe.us esignaboe.us tinaboe.us laaboe.us raboe.us rtisaboe.us nudsenaboe.us nhallaboe.us reneaboe.us bertaboe.us iesaboe.us ahlsaboe.us lifeaboe.us deountsaboe.us phensaboe.us dtayaboe.us eyaboe.us perewaboe.us bagsaboe.us dayaboe.us akissaboe.us indigoaboe.us loghaboe.us ttageaboe.us patoteaboe.us adyaboe.us tylady21aboe.us ookaboe.us dedmooseaboe.us twohomesaboe.us ampbellaboe.us aboe.us edaboe.us etifyaboe.us hoeaboe.us upakesaboe.us edingaboe.us aminnaboe.us ksakoreaboe.us teutodayaboe.us uuaboe.us hirsaboe.us aysngaboe.us sashitaboe.us soriaboe.us thlogaboe.us rafurneaboe.us thopbugaboe.us iagnsaboe.us deedlifeaboe.us froftaboe.us labommeaboe.us ofeherleeaboe.us desroveraboe.us reaannelaboe.us mihhaboe.us missueaboe.us notodayaboe.us paketaboe.us puranaboe.us sopnonaboe.us spleaboe.us tionsaboe.us swtnaiaboe.us adaaboe.us apriggsaboe.us bythemoonaboe.us fotyaboe.us taylsignaboe.us betodamsaboe.us