Business Brokers – How to Choose the Right One

The vast majority of small businesses are sold without the assistance of business brokers.

But if you do decide the hire a broker, here are some suggestions on how to pick the right one and how to structure the agreement in your favor.

What Business Is The Broker Actually In?

In many states there is no training or certification needed to become a business broker. In other states, brokers are required to hold a real estate license.

In these states it’s common to find real estate agents that do business brokering as a side business. If you deal with a broker who is also a real estate agent, make sure that being a business broker is more than just his hobby.

You will pay a pretty penny for the broker’s expertise and experience – you should make sure they have that experience when it comes to selling businesses and not just experience selling houses.

Questions To Ask

If you hire a broker you will be working with them closely for months to come; they will have access to your most confidential business records; the amount of money you put in your pocket at closing will be influenced heavily by the quality of work they do.

Therefore, you absolutely must check them out.

Here are some questions you should ask any prospective broker before hiring him:

1. How long have you been a broker?
2. Have you ever owned a business?
3. How many businesses similar to mine have you helped sell?
4. Can I see a blank version of your Listing Agreement?
5. What percentage of you income comes from brokering and how much from real estate (If applicable)

Ask them to provide you with references from previous clients. Then, I suggest you do something very unusual: Actually call the broker’s references!
I know a lot of people ask for references just to see how the person will react when asked (and to see if they actuality have any). But you can learn a lot about the broker’s reliability and professionalism by talking to people who dealt with that broker when they were in the exact same spot you are in.

Business Broker Fees

There are two benefits a broker can provide the business seller. First, he can locate potential buyers while maintaining the seller’s confidentiality. And second, a broker will qualify these potential business buyers so the seller saves time by not having to deal with weak prospects.

The big negative of dealing with a business broker is his fee, which averages 10-12% of the sale price. This fee is charged to the seller.

There is also a minimum fee. A very small business will pay a flat amount, typically $8-$10,000, instead of the commission. For a business worth $50,000 this minimum fee actually works out to be a higher percentage than the 10-12% industry average. But as a matter of practice, brokers usually won’t be interested in your business unless the asking price is above $100,000.

These fees are the reason most business owners choose to sell their business themselves and rely on their lawyers and accountants for the professional assistance they need.

The Broker Agreement

If you decide to use a broker you’ll be asked to sign a broker agreement which will detail the his fees. If possible, have your agreement include the following clauses:

Timing of Payments – Have it written into the agreement that the broker’s fee will be paid at the time you receive the purchase price – not at the time the sale is closed. This way, if you finance part of the sale price over a number of years, you pay the business broker as you get the money, not all up front.

Length Of Agreement – Your listing agreement should be for a limited time. If the broker locates the buyer within that time he gets paid. Be careful of lengthy agreements that lock you in with one business broker for more than 6 months. If he doesn’t produce, you want to be able to try other options. A 6 month business broker agreement is the longest you should allow. However, because selling a business can be a lengthy process, 3 months is usually too little time for the broker to find the right buyer. Try to settle on something between 3 and 6 months. If after six months, you haven’t closed the deal but you think the broker has done a good job, you’re always free to extend the agreement. But you want to be free to decide on an extension 6 months from now, not today.

Broker’s Guarantee – Include a paragraph stating that if you find the buyer, you don’t have to pay the commission. Without this clause, the broker is usually paid no matter who locates the buyer. Before signing any listing agreement, it is best to have your attorney review it to make sure your interests are protected.

Small Business Marketing Strategies

Small business marketing strategies identify and implement the goals of the company. A sound marketing strategy is inevitable for the success of any business. The strategy helps to focus the marketing on the business target. Small business marketing strategies include market research, identification of customer groups and target competitors and efforts to tailor the product pricing. The success of the strategy relies on the proper implementation of the formulated methods. It also judges the effectiveness of the marketing plan. Small businesses have unique marketing strategies to meet customer needs, while offering maximum profitability with minimum investment. Attractive marketing materials and ambient after sales support are also a part of small business marketing strategy.

Small business marketing strategies consist of three basic steps. They are increase the number of customers, increase the average transaction amount and increase the frequency of repurchase. They start with client problems and demonstrate methods to rectify it. This will help to build a network of clients. Consistent after sales support also enhances the popularity and credibility of the product. Marketing strategies also assess the profitability of an approach before actual promotion, to avoid the pitfalls.

Small business marketing strategies include various options to increase business revenue. They try to acquire more customers, sell more expensive products, come up with more profitable products and persuade each customer to buy more. The marketing strategy is developed according to the nature of the product or service. The business concern will tailor the product option according to the target group. Thus there are premier versions for those who choose expensive goods, comprehensive plans for profit seeking customers and a few basic products. The quality and reliability of products ultimately determine customer satisfaction.

Small businesses also introduce unique marketing strategies to differentiate a company from its competitors. Cause-related marketing is an attractive strategy that helps to gain customer loyalty and media coverage. The association with an organization helps to profit from the situation without much financial burden. Referral marketing is the most powerful, cost-effective marketing strategy. Promotions and offers intimated to the existing database through regular newsletters or mail alerts will help.

Small business marketing strategies are a summary of the goals of marketing plans. They provide guidelines and motivate companies to achieve a competent sales record.

What Are The Options For Ecommerce Business Solutions?

Ecommerce business solutions vary depending on a company’s requirements. These solutions can be purchased in a ‘ready made’ state or require a custom tailored solution. Some common ecommerce business solutions are introduced below:

Content management: This solution is the framework that controls the website content. Ready made content management systems can be purchased at the enterprise level or sought through open source sharing networks. Design templates can accommodate the integration of content management systems such as Drupal, WordPress and Joolma. This permits an organization to update content dynamically on the fly. Organizations that require large scale solutions can build from the ground up or purchase high end enterprise versions. These are typically more expensive.

Payment Gateways: Business ecommerce solutions to facilitate transactions include 3rd party solution providers and services provided by local banks. To integrate your website with your bank account is typically more expensive unless you support a large volume of transactions. Setup fees, monthly access fees and programming fees constitute part of this process. Third party solutions such as PayPal, and 2Checkout provide the vendor with the ability to transact in multiple currencies without integrating directly into a bank account. The money can be later transferred into your account by wire or direct deposit.

Security: Protecting your site from outside malicious attacks is a top priority for all ecommerce site owners. Reported cases of identity theft erode consumer confidence. Installing firewalls and using a service such as hacker-safe can protect your infrastructure and business reputation. Security is a growing area of concern for all site owners. Employing an appropriate ecommerce business solution to safeguard your system should be part of every ecommerce platform.

Email: Third party email services allow site owners to communicate and retain records of their customers. Companies such as Aweber and Getresponse host databases and provide front ends to correspond with customers.

Hosting: Ecommerce business solutions for hosting cater to organizational platform and functional requirements. Usually the web development company can recommend or has arrangements with hosting services. This requires a technical understanding to select a service that is appropriate for your site framework.

Custom ecommerce internet solutions for business: This requires the services of a programmer who can work to implement the technical scope. Internet developments have reached a stage where many of the common requirements of ecommerce sites can be fulfilled by cost effective third party solutions. If the technical requirement is more complex in nature, a custom approach is required.

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