What steps should I take to prepare for an acquisitions search?

The first step is to simply get your feet wet. Begin researching businesses for sale and various industries on the internet to learn what you like and do not like. As you begin contacting businesses and business intermediaries for more information, you will be requesting company financials. Therefore, be prepared to provide your own confidential financial information.

Prepare your personal financial statement (including information on how much money you have liquid and available for use as a down payment), your resume and your criteria for your business acquisition search. Also, be ready to provide verification of your financials upon request (i.e. copies of bank statements, statements relating to stocks or 401K, a letter from your bank stating the amount of funds you have available, etc...). A current credit report can be informative as well.

This can feel uncomfortable at first, but keep in mind that if you were a business owner selling your company, you would not want your intermediary to release confidential information without first making the potential buyer go through a rigorous pre-qualification process. The more prepared and forthcoming you are during this part of the buying process, the more serious you appear to both the seller and the intermediary.

Also, get out your favorite pen and be ready to sign lots of confidentiality agreements!

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