Top Questions to Ask When Choosing a Business Broker [Ultimate Guide]

Team Acquira
-  April 24, 2024
What You’ll Learn:
  • The role of a business broker in acquisitions and sales.
  • The importance of experience and expertise in choosing a broker.
  • Detailed questions to ask a broker before hiring.
  • How Acquira can simplify connections with business brokers or offer alternatives.

Navigating the complex world of buying or selling a business is daunting for many.

The decisions you make along the way can have significant financial and personal implications.

One of the most crucial steps in this process is selecting the right business broker, a professional who can guide, advise, and facilitate the transaction.

The following guide explores the essential questions to ask a broker, the importance of choosing the right broker, and how Acquira can help.

What is a Business Broker?

questions to ask a brokerage

A business broker is a professional who acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers of businesses.

They facilitate business transactions by helping both parties reach an agreement satisfying their goals and needs.

Also Read: An Interview on How to Build Better Broker Relations

A business broker's responsibilities may include evaluating the business, setting a fair market price, marketing the business to potential buyers, negotiating terms, and assisting in the closing process.

A skilled business broker can significantly facilitate the acquisition process, particularly for first-time buyers. By leveraging their industry knowledge, market insights, and negotiation skills, they can identify potential pitfalls, offer valuable advice, and help both parties navigate the often complex and time-consuming process of buying or selling a business.

Their expertise can save time, reduce stress, and even save money by negotiating favorable terms.

Business brokers typically charge a fee based on the sale price of the business, and the rates can vary widely depending on various factors, such as the size of the deal, the complexity of the transaction, and the broker's experience and reputation. It's usually between 5 and 15 percent.

Selecting the Right Business Broker

The right broker can mean the difference between a smooth, successful transaction and a frustrating, costly ordeal. 

The right broker can differentiate between a smooth, successful transaction and a frustrating, costly ordeal. 

Here are some key considerations in selecting the right broker:

1. Experience and Expertise

  • A broker with experience in your industry and a track record of successful transactions can provide invaluable insights and support.

2. Licensing and Qualifications

  • Ensure the broker is licensed to operate in your jurisdiction and has relevant accreditations or memberships in professional associations.

3. Personal Fit

  • Look for a broker who understands your individual needs and goals, and with whom you feel comfortable communicating.

4. Negotiation Skills

  • A skilled broker can have a significant impact on deal negotiations, potentially securing better terms and facilitating a quicker closing.

5. Transparency and Integrity

  • Seek a transparent broker about their fees, process, and any potential conflicts of interest. Trust and integrity are vital in this relationship.

Potential Downsides of Using a Broker

A business broker can play a pivotal role in facilitating business transactions, offering valuable insights, and helping ensure that the process is efficient and tailored to the needs of both parties. A bad business broker can delay deals, ultimately causing them to fall through. Selecting the right business broker, one who aligns with your individual needs and goals, can make the process far more manageable and increase the likelihood of a successful sale or purchase. 

Whether you are an experienced entrepreneur or venturing into business ownership for the first time, taking the time to find the right broker can be a wise investment in your future success.

For that reason, it's important to understand the potential downsides of using a broker when buying a business.

Here are some potential downsides to consider:

  1. Fees and Commissions: Business brokers generally earn their income through a commission based on the sale price of the business. This can sometimes motivate them to prioritize higher-priced listings or encourage buyers to close at a higher price.
  2. Potential Bias: A broker might not always have your best interests at heart. Remember, they typically represent the seller and get paid when a sale is completed. This might lead to a potential conflict of interest.
  3. Limited Options: A broker might have a limited portfolio of businesses for sale. This can limit your options if you are not looking elsewhere. It's always wise to diversify your search.
  4. Information Overload or Underload: Some brokers might bombard you with information, making the decision process overwhelming. Conversely, some might not provide enough detailed information on the businesses, hindering your ability to make an informed decision.
  5. Confidentiality Concerns: While reputable brokers emphasize confidentiality, there's always some risk involved when sharing your financial and personal information.
  6. Quality of Businesses: Not all businesses represented by brokers are quality investments. It's up to the buyer to conduct thorough due diligence.
  7. Pressure to Close: Some brokers might pressure buyers into making a decision faster than they're comfortable with to close a deal.
  8. Skill and Experience Vary: Just like any profession, the competence of brokers can vary widely. A less experienced broker may not have the necessary knowledge or resources to effectively facilitate a sale.

What might make a bad business broker:

  1. Lack of Transparency: A broker who isn't open about the details of a business, its financials, or its history can be problematic.
  2. Poor Communication: Consistent, clear communication is crucial. A broker who doesn't return calls promptly or fails to answer questions might not be reliable.
  3. Lack of Knowledge: This includes not only a lack of understanding about the businesses they represent but also about the industry, local market conditions, and the buying/selling process in general.
  4. Overpromising: Be wary of brokers who make grand promises about the potential of a business or the ease of acquiring financing.
  5. High Pressure Tactics: A broker should facilitate the process and offer advice but should not resort to aggressive tactics to push a sale.
  6. Unprofessional Conduct: This could be anything from a poor attitude to a lack of punctuality to unethical behavior.
  7. No References or Testimonials: Good brokers should be able to provide references from satisfied clients.

Brokerage Information

When considering using a business broker, it's essential to conduct your research, ask for references, and trust your instincts. If something feels off about a broker or the way they're handling a sale, it might be best to walk away and consider other options.

Here are some questions you should ask when considering working with a broker:

  1. How many team members do you have?
    • Asking about the team size can help you gauge the resources and support the broker can offer throughout the process.
  2. What size of businesses can you handle?
    • This question ensures that the broker has experience with businesses of the size you're looking to purchase.
  3. What's your listing term?
    • Understanding the listing term helps evaluate how long you may need to commit with the broker.
  4. How many listings do you have?
    • More listings may mean more options for you, reflecting the broker's market presence.

Experience and Expertise

  1. How many years of experience do you have as a business broker?
    • Experience can be a critical indicator of the broker's knowledge and ability to handle complex transactions.
  2. Have you handled transactions in my industry or a similar one?
    • Industry-specific experience can be vital in understanding unique challenges and opportunities in your desired field.
  3. How many businesses have you sold in my industry? In total?
    • These numbers can reflect the broker's success and relevance to your industry.
  4. What is your timeline for closing transactions?
    • Knowing the timeline helps in planning and setting realistic expectations.
  5. What is your success rate?
    • The success rate provides insight into the broker's effectiveness in closing deals.

Licensing and Qualifications

  1. Are you licensed to operate as a business broker in this state/country?
    • Licensing assures that the broker meets legal requirements and standards.
  2. Are you a member of any relevant professional associations?
    • Membership in professional associations often means adherence to ethical standards.
  3. What accreditations do you have?
    • Accreditations may highlight the broker's commitment to ongoing education and industry best practices.

Transaction Details

  1. What is your process for valuing a business?
    • Understanding the valuation process ensures transparency and fairness in pricing.
  2. What is your pricing strategy?
    • This will help you understand how the broker determines prices and negotiates on your behalf.
  3. Can you walk me through the typical steps of a business transaction under your guidance?
    • Knowing the process prepares you for what to expect throughout the transaction.

Marketing and Outreach

questions to ask brokerage
  1. How do you market businesses for sale or locate suitable businesses to buy?
    • This can help you gauge how proactive and resourceful the broker is in finding the right opportunities.
  2. Do you have a network of potential buyers or sellers?
    • A strong network can speed up the process and provide more tailored options.
  3. What online platforms do you use to promote listings?
    • Online presence often indicates how modern and aggressive their marketing strategies are.
  4. How do you vet buyers?
    • Vetting ensures that potential buyers are serious and qualified, reducing wasted time.

Confidentiality and Privacy

  1. How do you protect the confidentiality of sensitive business information?
    • This ensures that your private business details remain secure.
  2. What measures do you take to protect the identities of buyers and sellers?
    • Privacy protection builds trust and shields you from unwanted attention.

Negotiation and Deal Structure

  1. How will you assist in negotiating the terms of the deal?
    • This question clarifies how involved and supportive the broker will be during negotiations.
  2. What factors should I consider when structuring the deal?
    • Structuring a deal requires insight; the broker's guidance can be crucial here.
  3. Can you provide examples of successful deal structures you've facilitated?
    • Examples can give you ideas and confidence in the broker's ability to deliver results.

Fees and Contracts

  1. What are your fees, and how are they structured?
    • Transparency in fees helps you budget and prevents surprises.
  2. Are there any upfront costs I should be aware of?
    • Upfront costs need to be considered in your budgeting process.
  3. Can I review a sample of your standard contract or agreement?
    • Reviewing contracts beforehand allows for careful consideration and consultation with legal advisors if necessary.

Benefits of Using Acquira

Acquira's team of experts has years of experience buying and selling businesses. We can help streamline the process of dealing with business brokers and can connect you with a reputable one.

If you are interested in buying a business, consider signing up for our Accelerator Program where you'll learn how to find deals (with or without a broker), vet them, and present them to our Investment Committee for feedback and insight before ultimately deciding whether to close on the deal.

For business owners, we can also help you sell your business by connecting you with motivated buyers to maintain your legacy.


The choice of a business broker is paramount to the success of your business transaction.

Asking the right questions can reveal the broker's experience, transparency, and alignment with your needs and goals.

Whether buying or selling a business, understanding the broker's role, and selecting one with care is an investment in your future success.

It can pave the way to a smooth transaction, freeing you to focus on your next entrepreneurial adventure or well-earned retirement.

Looking for more information about business brokers? Our Accelerator Program offers the resources, guides, and expert insights that can guide you toward success. Space in the program is limited, so don't miss this opportunity. To find out if you're eligible, complete the form below.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business brokers facilitate buying/selling, which is crucial for transaction success.
  • Selecting the right broker aligns with individual needs and goals.
  • Ask a broker about their experience, licensing, fees, and negotiation.
  • Acquira connects buyers, and sellers with reputable brokers, enhancing success.
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