Best Places to Find a Small Business for Sale

Understanding the best spots to look can help you find the right small business for sale for your needs and strengths.

Newspaper Listings
You can find listings of businesses for sale in local newspapers under "Businesses for Sale" or "Business Opportunities." In addition, you can post your own advertisement under the "Wanted" section.

Internet Listings
The Internet offers a number of websites that carry businesses for sale. These websites may allow you to search for businesses by not only geographical location and type of business, but by whether the business is a franchise, a startup or an established business. These websites might also include information that will assist you in the buying process, such as articles on how to value a business, industry statistics and negotiating.

Not every business for sale may be listed yet. Some people may just be thinking about selling their business, but have not listed the business. You may be able to find a business such as this by networking with friends, family and business associates.

Brokers are generally hired by sellers to list their businesses and help find buyers. This does not mean that you will not be charged any fees. You will probably end up paying between five to ten percent more for the business than you would have if you did not work through a broker. However, brokers will offer you services including:

  • Helping you find the right type of business based on your skills and areas of interest. Since the broker is involved in a number of different types of businesses, he or she may have a gem in an industry that you never considered.
  • Helping with paperwork. Part of what you are paying for when going through a broker is his or her knowledge of the forms, licenses or permits that you might need. In addition, brokers will know the ins and outs of financing and escrow. Basically, using a broker can save you time because he or she can expedite you through the buying process.
  • Screening businesses. A good broker will not list every business that is offered to him or her. A reputable broker will make sure that the businesses that he or she is offering has the proper financials.
  • Negotiating. A broker can help both you and the seller stay focused on the ball, which is the seller selling the business and you buying a business. After all, the broker makes money from the sale, not the listing.
  • Avoiding snags. You may run across snags along the way of buying a business. A broker can help you smooth over these rough areas.

Regardless of whether you use a broker, newspaper listings, online listings or word of mouth, keep in mind that you are not an expert in buying businesses, particularly if this is the first time that you have tried to buy a business. Make sure that you have your banker, your lawyer and your accountant ready to help you understand the process and make sure that everything is accurate before you sign on the dotted line.

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