Guide

Buy an existing business

Business transfer agents and business brokers

If you are looking for a business to buy, some websites offer databases of business transfer agents and business brokers. These act in a similar way to estate agents - they are experts in valuing, marketing and selling businesses. They can help you find the right business and can also put you in touch with possible sources of finance.

When looking for a transfer agent ensure they are members of a trade organisation like the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) or NAEA Commercial. Members of such organisations are subject to a code of conduct and membership demonstrates that they possess the necessary professional skills, knowledge and experience.

If the business you want isn't available, do some research and don't be afraid to make an approach to a business owner. However, an unsolicited approach may take the vendor off guard. You should also be respectful of the vendor's need to safeguard confidentiality. A business broker, transfer agent or corporate financier will be able to help you find a business that may not be obviously for sale.

Also, don't forget word of mouth. Ask around among trade contacts, business associates, and at exhibitions and conferences.

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