Finding a Business to Buy

If you're in the market to purchase a business, there are many sources available to you to find a business for sale. If you know what type of business you are looking for, trade associations for that industry may be a good place to start your search.

If you are looking for a business in a particular area, you may want to contact the local chambers of commerce in that area to see if they can provide any assistance.

Some other places you can look to are:

Newspapers. Most newspapers, from large metropolitan publications to small local publications, have a classified ad section in which businesses are listed for sale. Some, such as The Wall Street Journal, even have a specific classified section of businesses for sale.

Internet. There are many Internet sites that list businesses for sale and there are more appearing all the time. You can do a general search of sites that offer businesses for sale, or you can do a specific search for the particular type of business you're interested in.

Business brokers. Another route to finding a business is to go through a business broker. A business broker matches people who want to buy a business with people who are selling one. One of the benefits of using a broker is that the broker, at least a good one, will screen businesses that are for sale to determine if there are major problems and to make certain that the business being sold exists. The broker will also guide you through the process of selling, and help you deal with snags that may develop along the way. However, the broker's fee to sell the business will probably result in a higher sales price for you, even if the seller is the one who's nominally paying this commission.

Did You Know?

You don't have to limit your search to businesses that have been listed for sale. If you find a business that you would like to own, tell the owner you'd like to buy it and make an offer (subject to your attorney's approval of the contract, of course). The worst that can happen is that the owner will say "no."

If a particular business seems like a promising choice, you'll want to contact the owner (or the broker, if the business has been listed with a broker) to find out the general facts about the business. From this information you'll be able to tell if you want to proceed further.