Beginning in 1996 until 2017, but for a brief timeout, my business has been a business brokerage firm; davidsonashe, inc., directly involved in the brokered sale of businesses on behalf of their owners. Throughout those 20 years, I employed the services of business buy-sell websites, in particular to attract buyers to the businesses I had to offer and, as I did, I found those websites were not designed to present the business in the effective manner I would have imagined. I found also that business brokers, business owners and business buyers alike looking for a better, more productive experience than that which was generally been delivered by business buy-sell websites.
So along the way, with a vision to redesign it to present a business-for-sale in a more effective manner and deliver the more productive experience mentioned above, I purchased the Business-Trader.com website and have now redesigned it for the purpose.
In my brokerage experience I have found the following to be common experiences:
Scenario 1: A Business Buyer looking on-line for the right business to purchase will typically be search through any number of businesses, looking for at least some material information on which to base make some preliminary judgments as to the potential that “a certain business” might be of interest. And, buyer expectations that such information should be part of the on-line presentation heightens the larger the business and the more experienced the buyer.
For example, maybe a younger, new buyer just looking to get started as a business owner-operator with the purchase of a small, $100,000 retail business, will often be looking for quite different information from that sought by an experienced buyer looking for a bit larger, $5,000,000 industrial service business. The search criterion for the smaller retail business buyer might be more about product offerings, location and lease, while the search criterion for the buyer of the industrial service business is apt to be more about sustainable sales and earnings. But I dare say also, any buyer being asked to pay for inventory and/or any goodwill is likely going to wonder also about sales and earnings, and about the financial history of the business.
Reportedly however, many buyers are just not finding much of the material financial information they seek on business buy-sell websites today, nor quickly thereafter in many cases. They will very often find a picture that is somehow representative of the business. They may even find the name of the business, or some other identifying information. They may read claims about the great potential of the business, but rarely does the buyer find much material, if anything, that would serve to justify the asking price or that would provide some degree of confirmation of the asking sale price or on which to begin even the most preliminary of value assessments.
Of course, sometimes a buyer will find something suggesting that a certain business could be of interest, such that will motivate the buyer to contact the seller to ask for further information. Often times however, this buyer will also be disappointed when the seller is unprepared to provide anything but maybe a couple more pages of summary information, or other times finding a seller with just nothing at all prepared and ready to offer a buyer, and still other simply unwilling to take that next step, wanting to know more about the buyer first, sometimes even asking the buyer for an offer before disclosing any material information on which he buyer might quantify an offer, and thus the dance begins.
So often, obtaining material information on which to seriously quantify a level of interest, or maybe of disinterest, can be a slow and frustrating process and when sufficient interest cannot be confirmed in a reasonable time, many good, serious, experienced buyers will just move on and buyers experiencing the above process a few times, are generally looking for a more productive experience than what they are currently getting from most business buy-sell websites today.
Scenario 2: A Business Owner seeking to sell the business may be looking for a more productive experience as well, and particularly, I would say, those with the $5million business to sell. … and, I use $5million not as a specific, but to suggest a price range.
Of particular concern to the typical $5million business owner seeking to sell, will be confidentiality. These sellers, and I’d say most of all sellers I’ve known, will be concerned about disclosure and about the unintended consequences that might result should the wrong person learn that the business is for sale. Consequently, they are often quite unimpressed by the website full of identifying pictures of the businesses for sale, with signs and names visible, etc. Such sellers will want nothing posted that would identify or expose their business to harm, and will want nothing at all to do with anything like an MLS listing. In fact, these owners will actually NOT want to be identified or exposed at all, at any time, unless and until confident the recipient is committed to confidentiality and a real, motivated and capable buyer seriously interested in this owner’s business. And as stated above, this will often be where the dance begins.
So, let’s imagine you are a business owner and have your business for sale on-line. One day you receive a call from “Joe the Buyer” and Joe says, “I saw your business advertised, I’m interested and wonder if you’d email him your financial statements”, or maybe he just starts by asking you questions. You don’t know Joe nor anything about him. You don’t know what his interest might be. Is he a buyer? Is he a competitor? Is he just a looker? You may be wondering whether your ad might have identified your business to this buyer somehow; maybe you were not real careful to say nothing in your ad that could identify the business, or maybe it was your email address or your contact information might have identified you. Maybe he saw your ad and is knowledgeable enough to guess it might be you, but in any case, now you think Joe might know who you and your business are, but you don’t know him. …. What do you do?
The Goal for Business-Trader.com is to provide that better experience both parties are looking for, though Ad posting facilities and by removing obstacles and offering solutions.
- one obstacle is a buyer looking for material information from a seller, that the seller is reluctant to disclose at this time.
- another may be a buyer reluctant as well to disclose information at this time also.
- both parties holding out for a better time, for no good reason, and either can cause real frustration and destroy any potential that may exist.
- the solution is to preempt that conflict and frustration, by making that better time be now, right up front in an Ad posted anonymously
The danger to the seller from disclosure is most likely to come with exposure of identity, not with the disclosure of material information which will remain confidential so long as the source remains unknown; anonymous. Throughout this website, you will find that same discussion and the caution to withhold identity, and you’ll find a design providing facility for the orderly disclosure the material information each will be looking for from the other, safely in the ad, right from the outset, by withholding anything identifying; … quite the opposite of today’s business buy-sell websites in general.
Confidentiality may be different for the Buyer. Some will prefer NOT to be anonymous. They may be a known industry buyer and their name may be an important asset to disclose, and in such case, won’t want to provide the financial disclosure in a public forum such as the website. Buyers relatively unknown will probably benefit from the financial and background disclosure, in which case, would do so, anonymously as well.
Every viable business is important to its owner and to its buyer. Smaller business opportunities often provide an important entry level to a new buyer, or to another growing by small acquisitions and we do enthusiastically present the Ads posted of any and all sizes of business. In fact, every business can benefit by offering the buyer what the buyer is actually searching for, and to do so, we offer the same formats to any and all in order that each can find their own preference and post according.
A Bit of Background: My name is Fred Ashe, the current owner and the originator of the 2017 redesigned Business-Trader.com. I have been an entrepreneur, business owner-operator since I was in my 20s. I am now in my 70s and have pretty much operated in the Industrial Business Sector throughout my career.
My businesses have included:
- Heavy equipment sales and service, applicable to forestry, lumber, mining, quarrying, gas, oil, road construction and other construction industries.
- Two-way radio communications equipment distribution, sales and services, primarily into those same industries.
- Mobile telephone design and manufacture (pre-cellular), supplying the same industrial sectors, and also telephone companies and other service providers, wholesalers and retailers.
- For one year, 1999, I also owned and operated a business totally unrelated to anything of which I had prior experience or knowledge; a small slaughter house and meat processor and packing plant … a crazy experience.
- My businesses have ranged in size from $0 at start-up, to a little over $40million in annual sales revenue, with employees ranging from 1 (that being me), to about 110.
- And, for the last 20 years, since 1996, including the year I also spent time at the meat plant, I owned and operated a local business brokerage firm, that has now more or less morphed into Business-Trader.com, which primarily represented the owner/seller of industrial businesses with annual sales in the 7-8 figure range, again, primarily those operating in the same above mentioned industrial sectors.
– Metal Fabricators, – Greenhouse Manufacturers, – Mechanical Contractors, – Air Compressor Importer/Distributor, – General Hardware Distributors, – Conveyor Delivery System Manufacturers, – Cargo Net and Sling Manufacturer, – Fiber Glass Product Manufacturers, – Truck Body and Box Manufacturers, – Truck and Trailer Repair Centers, – Window Manufacturers, – Lumber Re-Manufacturer, – and Other Types of Industrial Service Contractors, etc.
- During those 20 years also, we were involved with many businesses that we not so industrial, and generally smaller businesses.
– Restaurants, – Book Bindery, – Retail Stores, – Tire Shops, – Rental Outlets, – Print Shops, – Machine Shops, – Local Trucking Businesses, and more.
Over those years of business brokering, I’ve dealt with and just talked with a lot of serious and experienced buyers about what they were looking for and the means by which they’ve attempted to search out good businesses. And I’ve looked at many business buy-sell websites and have used several, but was never quite able to find the one that would allow me to present many of the businesses I’ve represented, in the manner I’ve wanted; or in any manner much more than a highlight summary.
During the time, I have employed the services of Business-Trader.com in the late 90s and for several years thereafter, and a few other websites along the way. And while Business-Trader had been quite effective in the early days, and another also quite effective later on, had I in those days found a website like today’s Business-Trader.com, … that is surely the site I would have used. I did not find such a website however, and thus the vacuum I saw in the marketplace and the concept behind today’s business-trader formats.
Business-Trader.com was founded in 1999. I purchased business-trader some while ago with an idea to redesign it to focus more on the mid-size; 7-8 figure range, industrial sector businesses, and on the presentation of such businesses in a manner consistent with the presentation I had developed over time and that had worked well for me as a business broker, and we have now done so.
I am, and others working with me are experienced businessmen, small business owner-operators ourselves over the years, with a real life understanding of the life and times of a small business owner. And, we have a full appreciation of the questions and concerns that come to mind as one begins to think about selling the business, as well as those of a buyer searching for a suitable business acquisition.
Our combined experience as business owners and operators, as business buyers and sellers, as well as business brokers, provide us the advantage of understanding the business buying and selling process from the unique perspectives of both the buyer and the seller; conflicting views often, views that must be recognized and reconciled if one is to successfully bring about the sale of a business for its full fair market value, and provide full value, in a quiet, confidential and non-intrusive manner.
Quiet Confidentially is a tenet of our business. We are fully cognizant of the importance of maintaining confidentiality throughout the process. We know how to be appropriately discreet with respect to employees and others. We will hold all confidential information in absolute confidence, unless, and until, for some reason, we may be authorized in writing to disclose. And then, only to further the authorized representation of our client in the manner set out by this website.
Experience makes a difference. As you read through the materials on this web-site, we trust that you’ll recognize the value of background and experience and that you will discover an open and up-front, yet confidential buying and selling process. And, while those may seem to be a contradiction of terms, we believe these terms will become compatible as our entire buying and selling process is described throughout this website.