8 Tips on How to Buy and Sell Businesses

Historically, starting and growing a business has been the sign of a successful entrepreneur. Today, however, the most successful entrepreneurs don’t make their mark by starting their own business. Instead, they thrive by learning how to buy and sell businesses.

While some business owners retain lifelong ownership, the vast majority do not. Given this, you need to think about your business as an investment. Whether you already own a business or you’re purchasing one for the first time, you should already be thinking about how you’ll increase the value of your investment for the moment of sale.

At Murphy Business®, we have a unique understanding of what it takes to buy and sell businesses. Below, we’ve collected eight expert tips so that you can learn how to buy and sell businesses like a business broker.

Buy and Sell Businesses Like an Expert

1. Hone Your Negotiation Skills. Negotiations used to be an everyday occurrence for most people. Now that everything has a fixed price tag, that’s no longer the case. If you’re planning to buy and sell businesses, you’ll need to develop your negotiation skills. You’ll also need to keep in mind that different kids of negotiations require different tactics.

2. Find Out What Depresses Market Value. Many business sellers are shocked to learn that their business is much less valuable than they initially thought. A business may be profitable, but if its owner plays an indispensable role or it lacks a diversity of revenue streams, these factors will depress its market value. Identifying these kinds of factors can help buyers avoid over-valued, high-risk investments. Sellers, meanwhile, can address these weaknesses before selling.

3. Learn How to Quickly Increase Market Value. Whether you’re buying or selling a business, you should learn different strategies for increasing a business’s market value. If you’re a seller and you’re underwhelmed by the value of your business, it’s possible to increase your valuation with the right steps. If you’re buying a business, these same tactics could allow you to scoop up a low-cost business and flip it within a few years at a much higher figure.

4. Know Where to Look. If you want to buy and sell businesses, you need to know where to look for buyers and listings. At Murphy Business, we have access to a number of exclusive business brokerage associations, which allow our clients to reach a wider, higher-quality pool of targets. Sellers get access to national and global buyers, while buyers can gain access to thousands of confidential and non-public business listings.

5. Target Serious Buyers and/or Sellers. When you buy and sell businesses for a living, you quickly learn to gauge the sincerity of different sellers and buyers. This is an indispensable skill if you’re on either side of a business transaction. If you’re unable to qualify buyers or listings, you could waste weeks or months (not to mention substantial funds) on a transaction that never comes to pass.

6. Understand the Emotions Behind Business Sales. From the outside, business sales might seem like a cut-and-dry process. Once you start to buy and sell businesses, you quickly learn that this isn’t the case. At Murphy Business, many of our business transfers involve small business owners who are selling for the first time. Selling a business is an emotional event for many of these sellers, so it’s important that both sides understand the emotional as well as financial stakes of the transaction.

7. Get a Grip on Financing Options. As a business buyer, you’ll want to research financing to ensure sufficient funds for purchase. Even as a seller, it’s a good idea to learn about financing options. At Murphy Business, we will often assist buyers with financing, even when we’re representing the seller. Buyer financing ensures fewer headaches for sellers, and because we’re familiar with the local area, we can point buyers in the right direction for local financing.

8. Surround Yourself with Experts & Specialists. Buying and selling businesses can be lucrative, but it’s rarely easy, and it’s always complicated. Even the most experienced buyers and sellers depend on professional advisors, including accountants, tax specialists, lawyers, and business brokers. While it costs money to surround yourself with a team of qualified experts, doing so will save you countless hours, steer you clear of costly mistakes, and help you optimize your return on investment.

Discover why so many entrepreneurs buy and sell businesses with help from Murphy Business! Call (888) 561-3243 today for more information about our business brokerage services.

Peggy Kragh on the Value of Selling with a Business Broker

Before becoming a business broker, Peggy Kragh’s career included stops in e-commerce, online publishing, construction, property management, and telecommunications. Peggy’s marketing savvy and a finance background led to success at every step of her journey. But it wasn’t until she joined the Murphy Business network that Peggy found her true calling as a professional business broker.

“It’s not an easy business,” she explains. “But it’s very rewarding to see a seller get full value for their business and to see that business flourish after a sale.”

Since launching her brokerage business in 2008, Peggy has become one of Murphy’s most successful business brokers. She is a three-time member of Murphy’s “Million Dollar Club” and was named the #1 Murphy Business office in 2015. These days, Peggy handles business sales in three of Montana’s most attractive metro areas, boasting a sell-through rate of more than 80%.

In a recent conversation, we asked Peggy for her advice to business owners getting ready to sell their business. Here’s what she had to say.

Why Hire a Business Broker When Selling?

Every year, thousands of business owners sell their companies. Yet the vast majority of these sellers don’t actually bother to hire a business broker. According to Peggy, many of these sellers struggle to sell their business for proper value.

“We hear over and over how business owners have tried to sell on their own and have run into problems,” she says. “Most business owners have never done this before, and a business broker brings a lot of value to the process.”

In Peggy’s experience, business owners make a number of common errors when they try to sell a business on their own. Some end up selling their business for a fraction of its actual value, while others struggle to attract qualified buyers.

“One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is selling to the first buyer. Someone approaches them to sell their business and they make that sale without putting their business on the market. I always say that one buyer does not make the best price.”

“Other business owners will put too high a price on their business, and then it doesn’t sell. If it sits on the market, people start to think there’s something going on with it, and then you need to drop the price dramatically.”

Peggy says that business sellers can easily avoid these issues by hiring a qualified and experienced business broker. This way, you can start with an accurate sense of your business’s value. What’s more, you’ll have an expert to help you maximize that value.

The Value of a Professional Business Valuation

When a business owner comes to Peggy with the intention of selling their business, Peggy starts by conducting a professional business valuation. This, she says, is an integral step for business sellers, one which underscores the value of hiring a business broker.

“Most property owners know the value of their property. But business owners rarely know the value of their business. We show them on paper what that value is and where that value comes from. Once somebody has gone through that process, they understand our value, because they understand that we know the market.”

During the valuation process, Peggy works closely with business owners to help them understand how their business value has been calculated. Sellers learn how different aspects of their business influence this figure, as well as what steps they can take to boost the value of their business.

“What I’m doing is helping someone understand the value of their business, and what’s a big contributor to that value, and what’s a big deterrent to that value,” Peggy says, stressing the importance of the valuating your business with a business broker. “You have to have a baseline, and you have to understand what creates value in a business.”

Boost Value with Help from a Business Broker

Once her clients have gone through the valuation process, Peggy employs a number of strategies to help them capture full and fair value for their business. If a seller is happy with the valuation figure of their business, Peggy helps them market their business. As a member of the Murphy Business network, Peggy has access to national and international brokerage associations, allowing her to reach a wider pool of qualified buyers.

Before listing a business, Peggy prepares bespoke marketing materials for the business. This helps her attract a larger pool of qualified buyers, and it helps her clients capture full value for their business. “It takes packaging,” Peggy says of the marketing process. “You already know the value of your business. But we package the business so that the buyer sees the value.”

If the valuation figure is lower than the seller expected, Peggy will work with them to boost the market value of their business. To do so, she identifies issues that reduce the business’s value on the open market, as well as strategies for how to increase the business value.

According to Peggy, there are three common reasons for a lower-than-expected business valuation:

  • Dependency on the Owner. “A business owner who’s required for everything — that’s not attractive for buyers. What happens to the business when the previous owner isn’t there?”
  • Concentration of Customers. “We see a lot of businesses where 70% or more of their business comes from just one or two customers. That’s a big risk for a new owner.”
  • Living Out of Your Business. “You need to keep your personal life separate from your business life. I always tell clients: Clean records sell.”

Peggy says that a number of her clients who were initially disappointed with their original valuation later managed to sell their businesses at a much higher figure. She cites one case in particular where a seller received a much lower-than-expected valuation. With Peggy’s advice, the owner successfully doubled the value of his business.

At the end of the day, Peggy believes that hiring a business broker is an important step for any business seller. “Selling a business is an emotional process, and most business owners have never done this before. They need someone to guide them through the sales process and get them across the finish line.”

Getting ready to sell a business? Call Murphy Business at (727) 725-7090 to connect with a local business broker and learn more about our services.

7 Reasons to Hire a Professional Business Broker

If you’re planning to buy or sell a business, you’ve likely thought about whether to hire a professional business broker. This could be one of the biggest transactions you ever make, so it’s important that you leave nothing to chance. A business broker will be there at every step of the transfer process, protecting you from costly mistakes and ensuring you get maximum value from your investment.

Despite the advantages of hiring a business broker, many business sales still occur without one or more parties retaining brokerage services. That can lead to serious problems. So, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to hire a broker, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the advantages offered by a professional business broker.

7 Advantages to Using a Professional Business Broker

1. Save Time. Buying or selling a business is a complicated process. If you don’t have extensive experience in the world of business sales, each step of this process can take an extraordinary amount of time. A professional business broker gives you the experience you need to shrink the timeline of your sale/purchase. He or she will also do much of the heavy lifting on your behalf. This could save you literally hundreds of hours compared to a DIY approach.

2. More Opportunities. With the right broker, you can reach a much wider pool of buyers or sellers. Take your local Murphy Business Broker. Each of our brokers is tapped into his or her own local market, providing you with an inside track on business sale opportunities within your metro area. At the same time, our brokers have access to national and global business sales networks. This gives you access to a near-unlimited pool of buyers and sellers.

3. Qualifying Expertise. Many of the biggest mistakes made in business transfers happen at the qualification phase. Mistakes at this phase can result in pursuing bad prospects, leading to untold amounts of wasted time and money. In the worst cases, a deal can fall apart in the finalizing stages, after you’ve already taken steps to assume or relinquish ownership of the business. By hiring a professional business broker, you can ensure this process is properly handled, protecting your interests.

4. Business Valuations. Another common problem in business transfers is the improper valuation of a business. If you’re buying a business that is priced over its value, you could end up with an abysmal return on your investment. The same applies if you’re selling a business that is undervalued. Many professional business brokers — including your local Murphy Business Broker — can connect you with an accredited valuation expert, ensuring you get fair market value for your investment.

5. Assistance with Financing. If you’re planning to purchase a business, there’s a good chance that you will need financing. This is yet another area where a professional business broker can provide guidance and assistance. At Murphy Business, we connect purchasers with banking contacts and provide detailed advice about how to pursue financing.

6. Confidentiality. Every year, an untold number of sales implode due to lack of discretion. If word gets out that a business is for sale, that business could run into serious problems. Workforce morale could plummet, employees could jump ship, and customers could start to shop elsewhere. When you’re selling a business, a professional business broker can protect your identity and that of your business. This way, you can avoid unwanted disruptions until the sale is finalized.

7. Paperwork & Legalities. When you are purchasing or selling a business, minor oversights can have major consequences. It is therefore critical that any documentation is handled correctly, and that you are guided by experts who understand the legalities of the sales process. A professional business broker will ensure that you are covered in both of these areas.

Looking to hire a professional business broker for help buying or selling a business? Call (727) 725-7090 today to connect with your local Murphy Business Broker and get started!

How Do Business Broker Services Work?

We wish that buying or selling a business was as simple as holding a sign on a street corner, but it’s significantly more complex. This is why smart business owners use professional business broker services such as those provided by Murphy Business.

Business broker services from an experienced, reputable firm are worth their weight in gold! For instance, Murphy Business understands all of the marketing, financial, and legal tasks necessary to accommodate business buyers and sellers. This knowledge allows us to successfully complete transactions to satisfy the needs of each of our clients.

Business Broker Services are All About Relationships

Buying or selling a business involves many complex transactions. To do it right, your business broker should help you get the best value for every dollar spent on buying a business, or the highest profit when you sell your business. This depends a great degree on having well-established relationships with a wide range of professionals. Ideally, business broker services include connecting clients with prospective buyers and sellers in a wide range of industries and business types.

If you are selling a business, you’ll benefit from the knowledge and experience of our business brokers. We specialize in the sale of businesses, so we have a depth of knowledge not often found with other real estate or sales firms. We’ll provide seasoned advice and guidance while connecting you with buyers who are ready to move forward with the transaction.

If you are buying a business, Murphy Business has access to listings of thousands of businesses for sale. Many of which are not publicly advertised. When you use our business broker services, you will have plenty of choices to sort through to satisfy your purchasing interests and desires.

A good business broker will also have excellent relationships with accountants, financial advisors, bankers, real estate agents, attorneys, and others. The reason? A typical business sale requires the input and assessment of a variety of professionals who will provide specialized expertise and help move each transaction forward.

Of course, the key relationship provided by business broker services is the relationship between the individual client – whether buyer or seller – and the brokerage team. Most brokers have experience buying and selling businesses of their own and having “been there, done that” they know the right people and have the right connections to make a business purchase proceed smoothly. You can trust their judgment and advice.

The Business Broker Service Process

The business broker service process generally follows a systematic procedure. First and foremost is gaining an understanding of the personal needs, interests, and desires of each client. Then, our business brokers can proceed with recommendations, tweaking of the recommendations based on your input, and acceptance by and execution of the process that will result in a closed deal.

Here are the steps that you might expect to SELL A BUSINESS:

  • Initiate a non-disclosure agreement with owner
  • Examine business financial data and determine fair market value
  • Prepare an informational package describing the business
  • Create a custom marketing plan
  • Confidentially market to prospective buyers through global networks
  • Qualify prospective buyers based on financial capability and seriousness
  • Evaluate offers and negotiate terms
  • Consummate the transaction in conjunction with the seller’s tax and legal advisors

We may tap into multiple sources of financing to assist a business purchaser so that the seller doesn’t have to provide any financing.

Get Closer to a Sale with Business Broker Services

With our extensive network of business contacts, our practical system for selling and buying businesses, and our proven successes since 1994, our business broker services are well worth checking out.

We are here to give you personal attention and close professional guidance to ensure your business sale or purchase transaction runs smoothly.

Learn more about our business broker services, by calling (727) 725-7090 or contact us here.