Selling Your Small Business? What Makes a Good Buyer?

The Biz Blog

April 20, 2010 by Stuart Gross

Anyone who has ever sold a business knows that attracting interested and qualified buyers is the name of the game. When a buyer has inquired about your business for sale they will have questions about the business and how it runs. You or your broker should answer those questions and interview the buyer. You want a buyer who is genuinely interested in this business, one who has the skills necessary to run the business, and the financial wherewithal to make this purchase. Your questions and the buyer’s answers must resolve these issues. If you do not know about your buyer you are likely to waste a lot of time and take your eye off of running your business and finding the right buyer.

There are many nightmares that the wrong buyer can cause:

  • Fear and concern among your employees: Buyers often stop by your business and the wrong buyer will talk to your employees, and accidentally alert them that you are selling the business. This invariably causes fear and concern from your people. Often employees start looking for a job when they know the business is for sale even though they would likely have a job with the new owner.

  • The release of confidential information: The wrong buyer might talk to your competitors and perhaps even share your confidential or financial information with them.

  • A very expensive waste of time: The worst of all is having your business essentially off of the market for several months while you are working with them on due diligence and find you have lost all that time and opportunity because they can’t or won’t complete the transaction.


Your plans to move to Montana or to buy that other business are shattered.

The good buyer:

  • Will be asking lots of questions which are perfectly normal and necessary. You need to engage the buyer in conversation. If the buyer is not willing to answer your questions it is likely that they are not genuinely interested and/or qualified

  • Will agree to sign a “Non Disclosure Agreement."  Before you move beyond the general information about your business to the more confidential and financial information, Again, authentic buyers will be willing to do this.  Your broker will have the appropriate form

  • Will respect your confidentiality

  • Will be as honest with you as he expects you to be with him


At the risk of repeating myself;

  • genuine interest in your business

  • the skills to operate it effectively

  • and the financial resources to make the purchase


These are the key characteristics of a good buyer for your business. If they do not have these traits, they may cause many problems; they are probably not your buyer and are likely to be a waste of your time.

When you do find a qualified buyer who has taken serous interest, you should be forthcoming and as helpful as you can be to help move the process forward. In most cases you will have some financial interest in his success.

A good Business Broker is experienced in handling buyers and eliminating some of these nightmares. The broker can help make a fair deal for both of you, guide you through the complicated process and help create successful transition for the buyer too run his or her new business. The best deal is one that works for everyone.

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Stuart Gross

4551 Glencoe Ave., Suite 210
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Office: (310) 882-2200 ext 118
Direct: (310) 924-5384
Lic#: 01860825

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