7 Tips For Selecting the Best Small Business Brokers to Sell Your Business

Are you thinking about selling your business? Have you ever gone through the process before? Are you confidant that you can do it yourself? Where would your time be better spent, running your business at peak performance while trying to sell it, or focused on the advertising campaign, networking, negotiating, and coordinating the closure of the sale of your business? Maybe you should consider doing what you do best, running the business, and search out small business brokers and let them do what they do best, sell businesses. If you go that route, here are 7 tips to choosing a business broker that makes sense for you.

1. Don’t get lost in the shuffle

You want your broker to have a proven record and a great reputation but you don’t want the organization to be so big that your deal is passed off to a junior staffer. You want the active involvement of the principals.

2. Do your due diligence

You’re about to engage the services of someone that is going to have a big impact on your financial life. Make sure you are comfortable with the relationship. Check with the International Business Brokers Association and see if your broker is a member in good standing. Follow up on the references provided and determine just how satisfied past clients are. Check with your local better business bureau and see if there are any unresolved complaints.

3. Use a specialist

Real estate agents and other professionals sometimes hold themselves out as business brokers on a part time basis. You want someone who makes their entire living selling businesses full time. Preferably somebody who has experience in your particular industry and someone who can point to successful sales they have made for your competitors.

4. Avoid heavy up front fee structures

Typically a business broker will charge between 10% and 15% of the sale price as a fee. While it is customary for them to ask for some up front fees to initiate the process, avoid those brokers who are looking for greater than a third. Also make sure that the up front fee is deductible from the sales fee when the business sells. Following this advice will save you from having to invest a ton of cash before you actually sell the business.

5. Only contract for the business selling services

Smaller business brokers will offer accounting and legal services that you will need during closing for an additional fee and these services are typically outsourced by the broker. It may be to your advantage to contract for those services directly leaving the broker with only the requirement to focus on the selling process and not generating add on fees.

6. Share your expectations

Before you select a broker you should have at least a general idea of what you want to accomplish by selling your business. You should have a rough valuation number and you should know if you want a cash sale or stock. Share this with the broker and see if he agrees with your plan. While there probably will be differences in valuation, your broker should be in tune with the rest of your objectives. If he’s reluctant or believes that it will be difficult to achieve your goals, find another broker.

7. Keep the whole process confidential

The last thing you want to do is let the word that you are seeking a business broker or that you are in negotiations with a buyer leak out. Once it becomes common knowledge that you are selling, your relationships with your employees, customers, vendors and bankers could be adversely affected. Have an exit plan for after the sale that includes sharing the news with all those listed above.

Using business brokers to help sell a business is usually the smart route to take for any business of substance. You want your organization to have as much “curb appeal” as possible during the process and that means you should be focusing your time on optimizing the business not chasing down buyers.

How to Choose an Online Printing Service for Business or Personal Needs

Ordering you personal or company printing work online is the best way to go these days. Companies like Vistaprint and others have refined the ‘web to print’ business model to the point where offline providers find it difficult to compete. Online printing is not only more convenient than other options but it is also more affordable and offers most people a better product selection than they would otherwise get.

Whether you need business stationery and promotional materials or wedding invitations and greeting cards, you’ll find that the range of product offerings with online printers is huge. However, with the growing number of firms out there online offering printing services it can be hard to know which one to choose. In the following articles we have set out some ideas to help you make an informed decision.

Firstly, you want to find out some basic details about a printing company and who is behind it. Look for information on their site relating to how long they have been in business and where they are operating from. Do they have decent telephone support if things go wrong?

Pricing is the most important consideration for many but don’t let this be the only factor to influence your decision. The companies that offer the best products and services are usually a little more expensive. You may get better value with them than you would with a low cost provider that will mess you around or rip you off entirely. You can easily compare prices as most online printing companies feature a price estimate calculator on their site. You’ll find that there is a considerable range of prices for many commonly printed business and personal items so it is worth checking out at least four or five companies to get an idea.

The selection of products and services on offer is important. A printing company must be able to provide what you need in terms of the product type, specifications and volume. If you need a wide variety of printed materials for your business then it will be convenient if you can get everything from one supplier.

Many offer additional services like the popular mailing service where they will send your printed materials directly out to your clients, hot off the press. Some will even sell you a targeted mailing list if you don’t have your own database.

Find out if a printer offers offset or digital printing. Offset is usually the better of the two when it comes to quality although you will pay more for this unless you order a decent volume. Most online printing companies give some details on their websites about their printing operation and the kind of printing they are capable of.

Give some though to the design of the materials that you need printed. At a minimum you will have to be able to upload your designs to the site. It is also nice to work with a printer that offers you DIY options like design tools and templates. Some also have their own in-house designers if you need something specific.

Some online printers will charge you to proof your artwork to make sure that it is ready to go to print. Others offer this service for free.

Requesting a sample is usually made easy as most online printing companies have a form on their site for you to complete for this. If you have time you may as well have them mail samples out so that you can verify the quality.

Make sure that you are aware of the turnaround time for your order. This is the time that it takes for your order to be printed and ready for shipping. Delivery time is how long your order takes to arrive at your address from the time it is dispatched. Allow plenty of time if you need your printing done before a deadline on the off chance that there is a delay with your order.

Before hitting the order button make sure that you are aware of a company’s refund and satisfaction guarantee policies. Read the find print on their site and make sure that it is fair. Most printers on the web will avoid issuing refunds or doing complimentary reprints unless the order had errors that were their own fault. It is therefore critical to ensure that your order is proof read and checked several times to ensure that it is correct in every way.

Lastly, you should do some research online to find out what other customers have said about a specific company. There are numerous blogs, forums and consumer feedback websites out there that people will turn to if they feel that they have had exceptional service from a printer. There are also consumer complaints websites and the Better Business Bureau for those that feel that they have not been treated fairly. If the printing company that you have in mind has a lot of good reviews then go ahead. If, on the other hand they have had a lot of complaints posted about them then you should think twice.

Is Going Direct Really Cheaper Than A Broker Or Price Comparison For Small Business Insurance?

The UK media is currently awash with advertising slogans from direct commercial insurance companies targeting small business owners in an attempt to make them switch their provider of business insurance.

‘Get 12 months cover for the price of ten’ and ‘You won’t find us on price comparison websites’ are typical of the slogans emanating from these companies, in a language more akin to the selling of car insurance than the traditional professional and almost stoic approach to the selling of business insurance cover.

In the current recession, price has become the determining factor in winning the war of market share for all goods and services and insurance is no exception. Prudent small businessmen and women are looking to cut costs in all areas of their business and the large direct insurance companies are well aware of this.

The large insurers are also aware that the UK market has over five million small businesses of which a fifth are sole traders, self-employed and people working from home, many of whom are familiar with purchasing their personal insurance direct with the provider, either by phone or on the Internet.

There are three types of provider in the current market for business insurance in the UK.

Intermediaries such as insurance brokers and agents, price comparison sites and direct commercial and business insurers.

Each has their own advantage and disadvantages, however whether one distribution channel is cheaper than another is often a subjective view from a particular trade, or dependent upon factors many of which cannot be quantified in price.

Direct Insurance companies claim to be able to offer cheaper polices because the cut out the costs of the middleman. It is certainly true that direct insurers do not have to pay an intermediary for the cost of the lead or introduction, however it is questionable whether this cost saving is actually reflected in the prices offered to the public.

Certainly there are economies of scale to be made by centralising the life-cycle of a policy from sales point to claim and renewal, however all those functions that are performed by an intermediary still have to be carried out in-house by the direct company and these have a cost.

Many large composite insurers often have distinct direct divisions with their own target market and premium rates. The same company may also have a broker or intermediary division or channel.

It is quite often the case that a large broker with a large book of business of, for example, small builders liability, will receive much more preferential rates then the same companies direct channel, because that insurance company wishes to retain that brokers clients.

Commercial Insurance brokers then are often able to offer preferential rates because they have more flexible schemes and arrangements than the direct channel.

One of the main benefits of using an insurance broker or intermediary in purchasing commercial insurance for small business, cannot be quantified in price and is worth the commission or fee that they may charge. That is advice, market and product information and knowledge, access to various markets such as Lloyds and some human help if the worst happens to a business and a claim is needed.

A commercial or business insurance broker is often able to negotiate far better claims settlements than if an individual were to deal direct with the insurer. The main reason for this is once again the insurer wishes to retain that brokers share of the total risk pool and will often pay out to a broker on an ex-gratia basis. This cost of this service is not quantifiable at the quote stage where small business cover may well just be valued for the price paid or the covers bought.

The third major way in which small business owners can purchase cover is by visiting a price comparison website. All the major UK comparison sites have recently begun to offer online cover aimed particularly at the small business sector, with under 50 employees. This is in direct competition with the direct insurers for television and media advertising space, aimed in particular at self-employed tradesmen and women who require business liability insurance and perhaps commercial van cover.

The comparison price proposition is that they can compare the market or at least a small section of it, to find the cheapest business insurance. They often do not provide any assistance in the purchasing decision-making process and the reality often is, that the cheapest commercial and small business insurance can be found in one of the other distribution channels.

It is therefore important that a small businessman shops around and takes some time to compare offerings including premiums, covers and services from all three sales channels. Prices tend to vary immensely by trade across the direct, broker and comparison markets and often it is a case of finding the provider or supplier who is the industry leader for a particular business type or trade in order to make large savings.

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