Acquiring a business is a team effort and finding the right business broker (intermediary) is just the start of building your squad.

Oftentimes, buyers do not know how to go about tackling the whole process of investigating the business they like or how to evaluate the financial data. This question represents a common real-buyer inquiry:

"I'm ready to purchase the freight company I've been looking at that's currently listed for $1.2 million. I've never bought a business before and I need someone who can help me through the various phases so I don't overpay and don't miss key legal issues that might be involved. Where can I find such a person?"
The answer is: You need more than one person.

Making a business acquisition is a team effort, and your business broker, also known as a business intermediary, is the quarterback. The broker drives the deal by acting as the buffer and go-to guy with the buyer, the seller, the attorney and the accountant. We do everything to move the deal along, including coaching and, on occasion, tactical anxiety therapeutics.

It's an extremely emotional process. Sometimes, the reason deals don't get done is that emotions get in the way. A good intermediary will take the emotion out of the transaction. Feeling an emotional connection to the business you intend to purchase is important since it will be a large part of your life. However, during the due diligence process common sense must be injected into the game plan.

As the coach, the broker sees the big picture. S/he keeps the ball spiraling towards the goal and creates the synergy needed to prevent false starts, fumbles and needless setbacks.

Your broker can help you find your other team members, including an attorney to act as your blocker to protect you in the legal aspects of the transaction and an accountant to tackle the numbers and tax issues.

As a general rule, small business owners sell a business only one time -- and buyers purchase a business only once in their lives. A business owner's professional advisors who have counseled them on the operations of their business consists of their attorney who does general business law and their accountant who does their books and tax filings. New buyers, too, have probably called on attorneys for various reasons such as preparing a will, for example, and have used accountants to file their income taxes. It is important to note that these types of professional advisors may have little or no experience in a business sale transaction.

Another general rule is that a deal structure that favors a buyer from the tax perspective normally is detrimental to the seller's tax situation and vice versa. Negotiations are opposing in nature and require creative solutions by experienced business brokers....the negotiators.

Good brokers will have a list of professionals with whom they have worked with in the past - deal makers versus deal breakers. You need an accountant and attorney that specialize in business transfer transactions.

You wouldn't call an eye doctor to perform foot surgery, so why call a patent attorney or a general accountant to help you perform due diligence on an acquisition candidate. You need specialists.

Professional advisors can make or break a deal. You must articulate your wishes to your team in order to have them working together towards the common goal. Each advisor, such as a business broker (intermediary), an attorney or an accountant, has a specific role in the transaction and should be working on behalf of their client to achieve the objective for which they were engaged.

Your advisors should provide the information you need in the time period required -- so you can make the decision on the purchase. You are the ultimate decision maker in the deal. Communication between all of the parties involved is a priority to prevent the deal from dying. Each advisor should clearly understand the wishes of their client. The accountant needs to know from the client that this is an earnestly desired transaction and that, unless something completely unanticipated is discovered, his or her job is to provide, review, and verify the financial records of the business in order to get the deal done.

The use of a professional business broker to captain the effort can alleviate communication problems, avoid needless delay, and keep the momentum rolling. The experienced business broker has been through the due diligence and closing process many times, much more often than any of the attorneys or other advisors involved. They keep the deal on track and act as the captain that keeps the team working together towards the common goal.......the successful consummation of the sale.

As long as all advisors in the huddle understand the game plan and are all getting the same signals from their respective clients -- the buyer and the seller -- the odds are good that the effort will have the desired result -- a win.