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July 7, 2022

Who to Have on Your Deal-Making Team Before Buying a Business

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Who to Have on Your Deal-Making Team Before Buying a Business

Unconventional Acquisitions

July 7, 2022

If you’re new to dealmaking, then you may not know that it’s not a one-person show. Typically, you’ll have at least a few team members in your back pocket who will help you execute the deal from the early exploration and due diligence stages to negotiations and closing. 

We’ve explored and executed hundreds of deals in our time, which is why we wanted to break down the absolutely essential list of people you should have on your side as you buy a business.

One thing though before we dive in: you likely already know (or even have a relationship with) some of these types of people, and if you don’t, lean heavily on your network. Chances are you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help you versus hitting up Google. 

What we’re walking through today is essentially how you’ll essentially build your dealmaking board of directors, from the ground up, even if you don’t quite know who to add to your roster yet. 

If there’s one general practice we can give, it’s that when it comes to how to approach a deal, the simpler the better. Make sure your team is on board with this philosophy as well, so you’re not getting caught up in a bunch of jargon that is slowing down your process. 

You should also consider adding some sort of escape clause as a part of your deal, that allows you to cut ties with any of your dealmaking team members during the process if things aren’t panning out. Take it from our past experience, but this is a necessary addition if you’ve never worked with your specialist before.

After many years of trial and error and making deals, here’s who needs to be on your team before you buy a small business:


First up, you’re gonna need an attorney.

If you’re brand new to small business buying and all things M&A, then you may not know that you’ll need an attorney. Their job will be to help you draft, craft, and deliver all of the different legal documents during the due diligence negotiation process.

This could include things like drafting or revising your letter of intent, guiding you through how to structure your deal, or even clearing up the terms of the deal. 

One thing here: make sure your attorney isn’t getting too caught up in the deal terms and overcomplicating them. If it’s your first time trying to buy a business, it’s okay to keep the overall structure simple (in fact, I’d argue that this is preferred)! 

Fair warning: this is also probably not the time to test out an attorney who has never facilitated an M&A deal like this before. You’ll also want to make sure that your attorney isn’t a generalist. 

I know it probably seems like you could use the same attorney that helped you get divorced to help you with buying a small business, but these are two very different skill sets, and I don’t recommend mixing them up. 

Next up, fire up that ten-key. You’re gonna need an accountant. 

In dealmaking, your accountant will be the one to sniff out all the numbers that the small business owner has presented to you during the due diligence process. 

They will be a critical part of your business buying journey because they’ll be the ones diving deep into the financials to figure out if the numbers are real or not. 

Your accountant will likely need some financials upfront from the current owner to help you during the due diligence process. We always recommend starting out with:

  • ​​Financials (i.e. annual revenue, monthly recurring revenue, etc.)
  • Cash flow (i.e. profit/loss, profit margin, expenses, and income streams, etc.)
  • Expenses (i.e. monthly and yearly expenses on equipment, labor, maintenance, etc.)
  • Assets (i.e. equipment, real estate, machinery, etc.)

You can also ask for more numbers and information later on once you’re in the formal due diligence process. 

Related: 5 Ways to Perform Due Diligence Before Buying a Business

Lastly, you’ll want a banker or local SBA contact in your back pocket. 

This is the person who will help you through the financing portion of your deal. 

If you’ll be working with a banker, make sure your credit score is great and that the existing company has substantial assets that will be a part of the deal. Otherwise, you run the risk of this one not going through and finding other ways to finance your business acquisition. 

If you’re getting an SBA loan, you may not actually need a local banker. Instead, you’ll work directly with the SBA agent to help you finance your loan without paying an additional fee for their services. 

You can call your local SBA office and talk to a representative to see what the terms of your SBA loan could look like. 

Honorable mentions for who else to add to your deal-making team:

A business broker…

Not always necessary to find a deal, but if you’re either slammed with multiple deals that are up in the air or you’re looking for someone who’s an expert in a certain industry, they’re not a bad addition to the team. 

Just make sure that you’re either bringing them on from the start if you are, or not at all. I don’t think that business brokers need to really be around during the middle of a deal unless they are a vetted and trusted source for you. 

Bonus points if they’re a specialist in your industry or have worked on a deal like yours before.

An operator…

Again, not essential, but if you’re not planning on keeping the current CEO in their position as an operator once you buy the business, then you may start to already put some feelers out for who your operator could be. 

If the seller and current CEO is planning on retiring, for example, you’ll want to have an operator in mind (or at least, have plans to bring one on). 

I mean…you could be the one operating a laundromat, but the whole point and value add of buying a business is so you don’t have to be the one actually running it day-to-day. 

A business partner…

If you’re planning on purchasing this business with a business partner, I’d recommend bringing them in as early as possible. Nobody wants to sign their name on an asset as big as a business without having been involved in the early process. 

It may also slow down the negotiation process if you are going back and forth with a partner or trying to get the deal terms right with the seller AND a business partner mid-deal. 

Make sure that you and your business partner are on the same page as far as the types of deals you’re looking for, and communicate consistently during the due diligence process so you can stay aligned.

Need more help configuring your small business buying dream team? Don’t worry—we got your back. We’ll help you figure out which type of business to buy first (or next!), plus how to make your process smooth and streamlined in our online course for small business buyers

…or if you’re really serious about investing in small businesses and are ready to double down, you should probably head over and join our mastermind


Yours Unconventionally,

Codie & Ryan

Co-founders – Unconventional Acquisitions

If you want to learn more about how to find and buy businesses, check out these articles👇


You can also register for the course here OR if you are serious about buying a small business, join our mastermind.

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