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To Broker or Not to Broker: That is the Question

When it comes time to address the sale of your SMB (Small-to-Medium sized Business), there are many aspects to consider, including:

  1. What are your selling price and terms?

  2. Will you have a seller note (also referred to as seller financing)?

  3. Will you need a valuation?

  4. What documents will you need to arrange?

  5. How long will it take you to sell?

  6. What will it cost you to sell your business?

  7. How do you approach confidentiality?

  8. How long you will be needed for support after the sale?

  9. What are your tax implications?

  10. Who can help you with all of this?

  11. Who will have your best interest at the forefront?

Let’s start with the last question first. Who will have your best interest at the forefront, it is only natural that YOU will. Others very close to you, such as your CPA / tax advisor, business attorney, or business advisor (if you have one), who have been alongside you for many years, are high on the list.

In addressing question “10”, who can help you with all of this, an important decision must be made.

Thank you Neil Thomas from Unsplash

In assessing your options and the approximate cost for who can help you with the sale of your business, there are several options to consider:


Go it Alone and sell it yourself

  • $2,000 - $5,000

Use an Exit Advisor

  • $299/mo & 2% Success Fee, No Retainer

Use a Business Broker

  • 10%-12% Success Fee, Possible $2,500 - $5,000 Non-Refundable Retainer


The Go it Alone Option

As noted earlier, there are many components tied to selling a business. Selling a business is often a once-in-a-lifetime event. If you’ve sold several businesses before, you will have a deeper perspective of what it takes to get a business sold. A Business Owner that can successfully navigate the data gathering process, business marketing aspects, buyer prospecting, and buyer negotiations are well suited to sell their business on their own. It is advisable of course in any scenario that you lean heavily on your inner circle of advisors and experts, such as your CPA, tax advisor and/or business attorney.

The Exit Advisor Option

The Exit Advisor option introduces an intriguing new approach to the business sale process. Success fees are significantly lower (2% vs. 10% or more) and there is a monthly stipend of $299. The Exit Advisor performs much of the same work as provided by a business broker, with one exception; the Business Owner will interact directly with buyer prospects. The rationale is that if a Business Owner can run a business for 10, 20, 30 years or more, they are more than capable to work with and negotiate with buyer prospects. Another factor is that nobody knows the business better than the Business Owner themselves.

By using an Exit Advisor, the Business Owner is guided through the process. The Exit Advisor assists you in establishing a price to list your business. Additionally, they will build the CIM (Confidential Information Memorandum), which will serve as an important document to share with interested parties. The Exit Advisor will also list the business on BizBuySell and other common sites for listing businesses. The Exit Advisor serves you throughout the process providing marketing tips and overall guidance on how to best position your business for sale.

Again, it is recommended that the Business Owner lean heavily on their inner circle of advisors and experts, such as their CPA, tax advisor and/or business attorney.

The Business Broker Option

The Business Broker option is considered the “traditional approach”. Like an Exit Advisor, the Business Broker will gather data on your business and prepare the CIM. The Business Broker will likely list the business on BizBuySell and other traditional listing sites. Beyond the cost structure, the primary difference between a Business Advisor and a Business Broker is that brokers act as intermediaries between the Seller and prospective Buyers.


The sale of a business is a life-changing event. There are many considerations in play when the time comes to exit. It is wise to surround yourself with your long-term advisors and select a support option that’s right for you; Going it Alone, an Exit Advisor, or a Business Broker.

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