How to find a business

June 9, 2022

How to Find a Business to Buy Through M&A

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How to Find a Business to Buy Through M&A

Unconventional Acquisitions

June 9, 2022

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re curious about this whole “let’s buy a boring business” thing. So let’s start by looking at how to find a small business to buy.

Maybe you’ve been stalking and reading our blogs and emails, trying to learn everything you can about mergers and acquisitions.

Maybe you’re not totally convinced that buying a small business is the right next step for you, that there couldn’t possibly be a business out there that was right for you.

Well, my friend…let me just tell you, that that’s absolutely NOT the case. 

So maybe, you just need a little more convincing. Mic drop, incoming…Check out these stats:

There are 30 million small businesses in the U.S. today. 

600,000 go under and another 1 million are born each year.

Part of what we do here at Unconventional Acquisitions is to bring you ideas for boring businesses that will help you enjoy your profit and create the lifestyle you want without the risk of running a startup.

But one of the biggest questions we get asked by our mastermind members is: where TF do you actually find a small business to buy? Is there some secret underground club? Do you have to be friends with the sharks and investors?

Luckily, you can be an average Joe (or Jane) and find aaaaaaall the deals to help you grow your portfolio. If you’re brand new, here’s where we recommend you start…

First, keep an eye out for potential sellers with these characteristics (even if their business doesn’t currently have a for-sale sign on it).

One thing you’ll want to think about when starting your M&A search is to target the right kinds of sellers from the beginning. It’s not that these are an exact science, but they can be helpful when it comes down to locking in on who might be a good fit for you to work with. 

In our eyes, the ideal sellers tend to fall into one of these categories:

  • Baby boomers
  • Tired and/or ready to retire
  • Desire to dissolve the family business
  • Declining health
  • Interested in moving/relocating
  • No transition plans or successor(s) in place

Once you’ve got these characteristics in your head, here are the best places to actually find small business owners who are interested in selling:

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1. Check out local business listings 

Here are a few of our favorites… is a great resource for seeing listings for an area or industry all in one place. If you’re not familiar with your industry and need a leg up on pricing or how to structure a deal, this is also a good place to start doing research. 

One thing about BizBuySell is that there is a LOT of traffic on the site, meaning that the deals tend to be higher priced and there are more sellers (and more competition). 

2. Search Google, then stop in for a visit

Google is also a really great resource, especially if you’re looking for a business in a specific industry (like a laundromat or car wash) that’s in your local area. Just do a basic search for the businesses that are within the industry you’re interested in and see what comes up close to your location.

If you can, you can also try to pull in more information about the owner, the business, or the location. The research you complete here can serve as a basic sniff test to help you figure out if this is the type of establishment you’d like to learn more about. 

If this small business ends up making it past your initial research stage, you can try to coordinate a time to stop in when you’re in the area or when the owner is in.

Finding a small business really can be as simple as finding a good candidate, and then calling them on the phone (yes, the old school way) or sending them an email to connect. 

Even if you’re brand new to buying a business, any exposure and interaction you can have during this stage will set you up for future success. 

So even if you give yourself a goal of just picking up the phone and talking to 5 local business owners a month until you feel a little more confident, you’ll start to get a better idea of the types of businesses that would be a good fit for you. 

3. Consider finding a local business broker

You know how you can hire a small business loan broker? Turns out…you can find a broker to help you find a business to buy, too.  

A business broker is someone who operates similarly to a real estate agent for buying businesses and who will assist you with your small business search. 

When it comes to business brokers, the top 10% will tend to have up to 90% of the local inventory, so they’re a great way to get connected and be in the know of all the latest deals in your area and industry.  

If you know you’re looking for multiple businesses of a similar type or industry, a business broker is also a great contact and relationship to nurture on your journey. 

A business broker can also help you find clarity on what businesses you’re interested in (i.e. size, revenue, industry, location, etc.), and maybe even point you in a direction you weren’t considering before. 

They’ll also already have established relationships with the small business owners who are on their listings and have a really good idea of which sellers are (and are not!) a good fit for what you’re looking for. 

A good business broker can also tell you which businesses to avoid, as well as sniff out a bad deal or failing business without you assuming all of the risks. 

If you’re brand new to buying a small business through the M&A process, a business broker can also work with you during the negotiation process. They’ll have a good sense of what you should be considering and additional things you could be asking for in your deal. 

4. Attend an industry conference or meetup

If you’re gonna want to buy a business, you’ll want to be at a place where you can connect with where those small business owners tend to hang out. One of the best places to get ‘em all in one place? A conference.

I mean…imagine walking into a room with thousands of other laundromat owners who already know the ropes (and who may even be interested in selling their small business). 

Even if you can carve out half a day to stop in, it might be worth your time to connect with people over the course of a few hours, instead of spending weeks hunched over your computer, hoping to find the right person on Google. 

5. Let your network know

Social media is also a really great way to find local businesses to buy. Chances are…one of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers is bound to know of someone who has the kind of business you’re in search of (or they know someone who knows someone).

It may also be true that the people you’ll be connected with thanks to your network aren’t quite ready to sell yet. That’s totally okay.

The key to leveraging your network is to at least get the conversation with potential sellers so you can become their #1 pick should they decide to sell one day. Plus, they may also know other small business owners who are interested in selling (even if they’re not ready yet).

Interested in getting into the short-term rental game, but don’t want to get swept up in a bad deal? We can help. 

Our UA mastermind is for you if you’re looking for a community of dealmakers, plus our eyes on any future rental property deals you’ve got in your future.  Click here to learn more

And if you’re brand new to the idea of buying boring businesses, we got you. We’ve also got an online course available that will help you figure out which type of boring business to buy first (or next). 

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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