When looking to buy a business there are many alternatives available today. The many avenues can sometimes be confusing if this is your first time. Let’s look at how to sort it out.

The search is a two step process. The first is to find businesses for sale that fit with your general business idea, with your passions and dream, with your gifts and talents.

Second, after you locate one or more business opportunities you will need to evaluate the business to see if it’s right for you. Part of that process will be an analysis of key financial information and an overview of the company. Read my article, Evaluating a Business For Sale, for more in depth considerations.

Let’s take a look at how to find business opportunities. There are many places to find a business for sale. The following are recommendations to help you get started. Be wary and always get competent legal, tax and business advice before entering into any transaction.

check markClassifieds ads, online and off …

Many start with the local newspaper when looking to buy a business. Check out the “Business Opportunities” or “Businesses for Sale” classified section. You may need to subscribe to the print version or look at their online version, if they have one. The newspaper for the particular community you are interested in is a good place to start.

Craigslist is a popular online place to find classified ads of businesses for sale. Check out their site athttp://www.craigslist.org/about/sites. First you will select the appropriate city or area that you are searching in. Then look under the category “for sale” for the link to “business” to find a current listing of businesses for sale.

There isn’t often a lot of legitimate business opportunities to be found in these listings. Many “get rich quick” or make tons of money at home scams are found here. Look past them to find the occasional real business opportunity.

Online business opportunity listings …

Looking to buy a business at websites that specialize in businesses for sale can be a better option. Whether you are an individual or a business broker, these sites are available to you. Businesses for sale nationwide can be found here. You can generally narrow your search to a particular state or other location that is of interest to you.

A search on Google will turn up many business for sale sites. One of the biggest is BizBuySell.com. Here are a couple of other sites that many looking to buy a business use: bizhwy.com and businessbroker.net.

people2Tap the business broker …

Finding an experienced business broker in the area where you are looking to buy a business can be very effective. The key word here is “experienced.” There are plenty of people who attempt to sell businesses who are good at sales and lousy at actually knowing anything about business.

Find a professional.

One way to find the better business broker is to see if any are members of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA). While not a guaranty of quality it is a good initial step. You still need to interview them and evaluate their ability before engaging their services.

Ask financial professionals or bankers for their recommendations. Get references and actually check them out. And, as always with a broker, they aren’t there to be sure you get the right business or the best deal. You must evaluate the business opportunity yourself.

Many business brokers are very good at looking out for everyone’s interest, but that is the exception not the rule. Don’t take their advice on what’s right for you. Follow the steps outlined in my articles here and engage competent professional help in evaluating any deal. You should understand both the legal and tax implications of what you are about to do along with the economics of the business.

Call on a pro …

Calling upon a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an attorney is often a good way to go when looking to buy a business.

The CVA is valuing businesses that are or will be for sale. They can be a great source of information. In addition, if you need to have a business valued that you want to purchase, these are the pros that do it.

Both the CPA and attorney deal with many business clients and may know of a business for sale. They also have a wealth of knowledge about business that can be valuable to you.

Another alternative is to call upon the local bankers, insurance brokers and real estate brokers. The bankers and insurance brokers have many business clients and often know of a business for sale. In some states one must be a real estate broker to sell business opportunities. This makes the real estate professional a good contact.

Go direct …

A great method of finding businesses for sale is to simply call on the owners of businesses you may be interested in buying. I’ve seen this work well for many of my clients looking to buy a business. There are a limited number of businesses for sale that fit with your business idea, your passions and dream, your gifts and talents. Make a list of those businesses and go call on them.

helpWho do you know?

Look at your own contacts, those within your sphere of influence. Tell people you are looking to buy a business. Word of mouth communication often turns up a business for sale.

The key here is not to rely on any one method. Pursue many alternatives looking for the business for sale that will be worth further investigation.

Once you find those business opportunities, read my article on analyzing an existing business for sale to discover important information you need to know. Hard work and perseverance will pay off. Take the time, make the effort. You will find the business for sale you desire!

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by Steven Schlagel