When it comes to the sale of a small business, there are two ways it can be done. You can either sell the business yourself or use an agent. Agents go by several names such as:
- business transfer agents
- business sales agents
- business brokers
- commercial real estate agents (for selling freehold businesses)
For larger businesses there are other firms who provide these services, such as corporate finance firms, transaction advisory firms etc. Businesses with a turnover of a few million pounds would be better off investigating the services of those firms instead.
How Do You Find An Agent To Sell A Small Business?
The above site also publishes detailed reviews of the best known transfer agents and brokers including well known names such as:
- RTA Business Sales
- Knightsbridge Business Sales
- KBS Corporate
- Intelligent Business Transfer
- Blacks Business Brokers
- National Business Sales
- and others
And you won’t like what you read there about many of these brokers.
There are directories of business transfer agents and brokers at DaltonsBusiness, RightBiz and BusinessesForSale, but you may find that they give prominence to the agents who pay them the most money rather than the best ones or the most capable ones.
The only unbiased directory of business brokers is at The Institute of Transaction Advisers and Business Brokers: Directory. There is no pre-condition for listing there (ie. you don’t need to be an advertiser) and all UK based business sales agents and business brokers are listed in this directory.
The Federation of Small Businesses says, “Beware brokers who, from the outset, seem more interested in persuading you to pay their fees than learning about your business. You want them to ask questions about your business and give an honest appraisal of its value, chances of selling and what you need to do to make it more appealing to buyers.”
But before you engage an agent/broker you might want to assess whether that is the right option for your business. If you need help with finding the right business broker, the iTABB site provides this help for free. This is not something we assist with here at CEBTA.
Selling Your Business Yourself
The owners of small businesses sometimes successfully sell their businesses themselves. It is relatively easy to do what some business transfer agents do which is not much more than writing up a brief description of the business and posting it on websites such as Daltons and Rightbiz mentioned earlier.
Here’s a link if you need further guidance on how to sell a business. If you have questions you wish to discuss with other owners who’ve sold their businesses, you could consider signing up for the UK Business Forums and starting a thread, or posting at this location or “subreddit” on the well known Reddit website.