In today’s digital age, just about anything can be found online and a buyer for your business is no exception. The Internet has a myriad of resources available for connecting business owners with potential buyers, even in very niche industries. While the internet is a great resource, there are also some offline ways to find buyers. We will help breakdown the ways to find a buyer so you can choose the best approach for you.

Ways to Find Prospective Buyers

Whether you want to work with an individual broker, specialized site, or a casual platform, there are options to meet your every need as a seller. With a range of costs from a percentage of your business to under $100 a month, you can try more than one.

Using the services of a business broker is very much like working with a real estate agent to sell your home. Working with a broker comes with many benefits, especially for first time sellers. A broker can search for the right buyer while maintaining company confidentiality; a major benefit you won’t get from posting your business for sale on public websites. Experienced brokers also come with a wealth of knowledge about how to market your business and resources (including a personal network) that can help you reach the right buyer quickly.

How much does working with a business broker cost?

Again, much like a real estate transaction, business brokers are paid by the seller, but that fee is only collected after the successful closing of the sale. This commission is usually around 10 percent, but it’s important to ask early about what other types of fees might be involved. It’s also a good idea to ask about the average percentage of asking price they get when closing a deal.

How do I find a business broker?

A great place to start when looking for the right business broker is the International Business Broker Association (IBBA). IBBA’s site allows you to search for accredited members in your geographical area and industry.

Be sure to verify if your broker is licensed a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI). A CBI certification ensures you’re working with an experienced professional held to high practice standards in their work.

Business Broker Resources

You can also start your search for a business broker with specific companies rather than a search for an individual broker. Here are a couple resources to get you started:

  • Apex Business Advisors has two decades of experience in business sales, mergers, and acquisitions. They also have relationships with other professional advisors such as tax attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, business sales coaching, and wealth managers.
  • First Choice Business Brokers has over 20 years of experience helping entrepreneurs buy and sell businesses. Their site provides answers to many common questions from first-time sellers.
  • Murphy Business Sales was founded in 1994 and is one of the largest business brokerage firms in North America. Their brokers are highly experienced and come from high level positions like C-suite professionals or business owners.
  • Sunbelt Network has business brokers who work across the country, and their reputable team works with both small and midsize businesses.
  • Transworld Business Advisors focuses on three core concepts: business brokerage, franchise consulting, and franchise development. They also maintain a blog with educational content to help business owners.
  • VR Business Brokers has nearly four decades of history in the sale and transfer of businesses. Their site is also home to a detailed business for sale search feature.

One of the easiest and most accessible places to get started selling your business is an online listing site. These sites are essentially online marketplaces that specialize in buying and selling businesses. As a seller, you can create an ad from a template and buyers can find your business either by browsing the site or searching specifically by location, industry, price, or additional factors.

Even when you’re working with a broker, sometimes they will utilize these sites as a part of their services.

How much do business listing sites cost?

One of the major benefits of using a listing site is the affordability. Though costs do range depending on which platform you use, reputable sites have prices starting around $50 a month. These sites also often have additional resources you can purchase a la carte such as additional marketing tools or pricing information.

Listing Site Resources

Here’s a look at a few reputable business listing sites, which all can be used for both buying and selling a business.

  • BizBuySell is the largest online market place with over 100,000 successful business sales and 45,000 active listings.
  • BusinessBroker.net allows you to list your business for sale and can help connect with an experienced broker in your area.
  • BizQuest was one of the earliest places you could buy or sell a business online. They pride themselves on excellent customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking for other ways to sell your business that leaves you totally in control and is potentially cost-free, you may turn to more localized options such as Craigslist and networking. Craigslist sites exist for both large and small cities across the country. You can create an ad for free, which is searchable by anyone.

The benefits to using Craigslist to sell a business are that it’s free, and the sites are local to your area, which is where you’re most likely to find a buyer. However, since Craigslist is a marketplace for buying and selling just about anything, you might receive messages from people who aren’t serious buyers or your post may just not get much traffic.

Another cost-free (though time-consuming) option is networking. Generate excitement about the sale of your business by spreading the news by word of mouth. Talk to friends, family, and other business owners. Head to local meet-ups or tradeshows where you can talk to brokers or potential buyers. You’ll likely still want your business sale information online somewhere that you can easily direct interested parties to.

When making your decision consider both cost and timeline as well as how important they are to you. Working with a broker will likely result in a faster sale than posting on Craigslist or networking but it’s also more expensive.

One of the easiest ways to successfully transition your business to a new owner is to sell it to a business partner or employee. They’re already familiar with the business and have an inherent interest. Where this kind of transaction can get tricky is the asking price. Someone you know may expect to get a “deal” from you and whether that’s something you’re willing to consider or not, you want to have pricing data available. If you’re selling your business to an acquaintance, a business valuation can be extremely helpful in guiding the asking price conversation.

While there are so many options to find a buyer, don’t feel like you have to commit to just one. You could start by networking then turning to a broker or online marketplace. If you have an employee you think would do a great job running the company, you can have that discussion before opening it up to other potential buyers. Be aware of your options, recognize when one method isn’t working for you, and move on to the next.