How to Determine the Right Buyer for Your Business

By Steve Michaels

Q: I am trying to sell my business myself and have two offers. I really like one gentleman, but another has put in a higher-priced offer. Do I go with my gut and accept the lower offer, or should I go with the higher offer since selling a business is all about money?

A: Entertaining offers is like going to a school dance. You may be asked to dance by the most attractive person there, but that does not mean he or she is the best partner or most compatible for you. When selling your business, you are selling a part of yourself. You have to realize that you will be dancing with this person for several months, affecting you, your staff, and your customers. Sure, the money is important, but so is the lasting effect of a deal gone bad.

Have a heart-to-heart talk with each potential buyer – and really listen. How do they bill? Do they take care of their employees? Are they going to leave the business in place or move it? Do they have the necessary financing available? Will your agents be offered jobs?

Sadly, some buyers will tell you what you want to hear in the beginning. They may even offer more than the asking price so you’ll take the business off the market. They may begin to burden you with questions to wear you down. Then, as the closing date draws closer, they might lower their offer, using the data you provided them. In some cases this is relevant, but in others, it is merely a shady negotiation tactic.

Your question is difficult to answer, because there are many reasons for selling a business. Look at what is important to you to find your answer. If it is money, then go with the highest bidder.

My advice is to obtain as much information from the buyer as possible; make sure they have the funding and are a compatible fit with you and your business. If the difference is only a few thousand dollars, then you may want to go with the buyer you like best; if not, sleep on it. Hopefully, in the morning you will have a clear idea of who your buyer will be.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing; he can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or at His website is

[From Connection Magazine December 2011]

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