Buyers want to learn what they need to know about the business as quickly as possible, and then either proceed with it or move on to another. Business owners, on the other hand, will be concerned about disclosing confidential information.
Blind Business Profiles are an effective and confidential way to present the business-for-sale to prospective buyers. In fact, we recommend a series of profiles in order for both parties to be able to gauge what if any impact each disclosure might have on continuing interest, in order to stop and limit disclosure should the level of interest become insufficient to continue.
Below are described (and to the right, illustrate by clicking on the image) four such progressive profile examples.
Business-for-Sale Ad Profile: Assuming a business-for-sale ad has been posted or will be posted, the first profile will be that presented by the Ad. Recommend the ad be meaningful, complete with price and terms of payment, description of the business in terms of business type or commercial sector and that it provide a quick financial summary of the business in terms of sales and earnings, but that it not identify the business by any means.
Introductory Profile: The second should be an introductory profile that (in our opinion) should not identify the business by any means but which should again provide the price and terms of payment, describe the business by type or commercial sector and should provide a quick financial summary of the business in terms of sales and earnings over the past several years.
The introductory profile may not provide much more (if any) than the ad, except it should include a confidentiality agreement to be signed and submitted by the buyer in order to obtain additional information.
Financial Profile: The third should be a financial profile that (again in our opinion) should not identify the business by any means but should expand the financial detail. It should describe and justify the valuation or basis on which pricing has been calculated or presented, and it may also expand on the business description with care not to identify the business itself.
The financial profile should include enough information for a buyer to reasonably gauge a continuing level of interest and we recommend that to obtain additional information, the buyer be asked to provide disclosure as well, that would simply indicate the buyer’s ability to purchase the business should further disclosures and investigation lead to such.
Business Profile: The fourth should be the full business profile, but which still (in our opinion) should not identify the business. A buyer wants to know ‘what the business owns, …what the business earns, …what the business does, …what types of products, …what types customers and how they pay, and …what types of suppliers and how the company pays’. That information can be provided in detail without identifying the business, and that is what we recommend.
Eventually of course, if, when and as both parties agree that a good business fit does seem to exist, then business identity, introduction and other disclosures will be necessary to the progression and completion of a sale.
In the meantime, business owners represented by third party agents, such as a business broker, or a realtor, or a lawyer, or an accountant, or others perhaps, can, through such agency, maintain a buffer between buyer and seller that will allow parties to maintain confidentiality and withhold identity until a reasonable fit can be gauged.
On the other hand, businesses for-sale-by-owner will often have no such buffer. Even when the ad is non-identified and if all the profiles are non-identified, it will be difficult for the buyer and seller to maintain anonymity past the first contact, unless some form of buffer is inserted. We think it’s a good idea to do so and offer the following suggestions.
- engage the representative services of a Participating Broker or other third party agent, or
- subscribe to the confidential intermediation services of Business-Trader Intermediary
- subscribe to the confidential messaging services of Business-Trader Messenger
- obtain a non-identifying email address, such as a g-mail account perhaps, and make that the sole point of contact.