The Who's Who in Small Biz Buying

December 22, 2022

Who to Hire Before Buying Your First Small Biz?

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Who to Hire Before Buying Your First Small Biz?

Unconventional Acquisitions

December 22, 2022

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re curious about buying a small business. Whether you’re into buying a bunch of laundromats, busting some suds at your local car wash, or have another small business in mind, you’re in the right place. 

One of the big questions we get on the internet is how to actually buy the business. What are the nuts and bolts? How does it actually work?

And most importantly, who do you need on your team? Because chances are you aren’t a small biz pocketknife—an attorney-accountant-banker who’s got 20 years of industry experience. 

When it comes to WHO you need on your small biz buying team, the big thing to keep in mind is that you probably already have the right contacts in your network. 

And if you don’t? They are relatively easy to find and get connected with. Just make sure you have a way to vet them before signing anything. 

Before we dive in, remember that half the battle is finding people for your team who are:

  1. Highly recommended 
  2. Highly skilled
  3. Knowledgeable about the industry you’re getting into 

There is absolutely nothing worse than getting someone’s eyes on your deal who can’t tell you if the numbers make sense and the contract is locked tight.

So now let’s get into it…here’s who you need to assemble before you get started buying a business:

THE ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVES

Do not pass go. Do not cash flow $200 (or more). Seriously, do not try to do a deal without these two roles in place or you will regret it. 

1. A Lawyer 

If you’re pulling your legal advice from movies like Legally Blonde or The Lincoln Lawyer, you’re going to want to find a good attorney who can represent you during your deal. 

When you’re in the due diligence phase, you need to request information about the business (things like their financial records, P&L statements, etc.).

This is considered private knowledge and you need to formally ask for permission, using a letter of intent, to get the info. Which… you guessed it… needs to be vetted by a lawyer AND has to be submitted to the seller’s lawyer. 

Your attorney also makes sure that the terms of your deal, especially if you’re going the seller financing route, are in place to protect both you and the seller during the transition. 

2. An Accountant 

Seems obvious, but we see a lot of early starters who either skip this one or get someone who’s “good enough”. 

The problem comes down to industry experience, which is exactly why you might want to find someone who specializes in the industry that you’re looking to buy in. 

An accountant who is well-versed in your industry and knows metrics like the average cost of goods, effective places to cut costs, or what your profit margins could look like is an invaluable asset to your team. 

Your accountant needs to request info from the current owner before you get into the nitty-gritty of your deal, like…

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

Please, PLEASE, don’t skimp on hiring an accountant. If we had $1 for every time our accountant saved us from researching a bad deal…

We’re big believers that paying a little extra upfront for an accountant SAVES you thousands of dollars (and even more hours) than if you attempt the low-cost route. 

THE NICE-TO-HAVES BUT NOT ESSENTIAL

Depending on your industry, experience level, and plans for how you’ll finance your deal, these are some other honorable mentions to add to your small biz buying team. 

3. A Banker or Local SBA Contact 

If you’re going the more traditional route for financing your deal, you definitely want to have a contact at your local bank or SBA office to help you with funding. 

Your banker will want to confirm you have a great credit score (usually around 680 or higher) before they lend you money. 

They are also hyper-focused on what kind of substantial assets the current business has available, as this is what they’ll use as leverage or collateral in their deal terms. 

If you decide to get an SBA loan, you work with an SBA agent instead of a banker, but the dynamic is somewhat similar. 

4. A small Biz Broker 

Working with a broker is a two-way street. You not only get the benefit of an industry expert who is very familiar with the territory of your deal, you also tap into their vast network of contacts, including sellers they’ve already worked with, or at least have a relationship with. 

If you’re trying to buy a business by sticking to only what’s listed on a website like BizBuySell.com, you might find that you’re coming up short. 

When it comes to buying up small businesses, a lot of the time the good deals (with even better deal terms) take place offline and are largely unlisted. 

Not saying you won’t find them on websites or real estate listings, but there is a chance they’re being sold without all the publicity. This is where a broker helps you in your search. 

Since they likely already know most of the business owners and potential sellers in the location you’re looking to buy, they have a higher likelihood of finding a deal that works for you. 

If you’re juggling multiple deals at once, either in the same industry or the same location, they could also be someone helpful to have on hand to keep you organized during your due diligence process. 

5. An Operator (If You Know Somebody) 

Last but not least, you might want to hire an operator (or at least have someone in mind). 

Just because you’re the owner of the business does not mean you have to be the one running it every day. 

We get asked a lot about finding an operator to hire, and one of the easiest and most underrated places is in the current workforce. 

The chances are pretty high that someone is working at the current company (and has been for a while) who could take over as the operator. 

Plus, you spend less time interviewing and training a new staff member and operator versus promoting someone else internally to do the job.


Want more guidance on who to hire for your first (or next!) small business purchase? We walk you through who to hire AND what to look for in our online course for small business buyers.

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