Do Australian business brokers create value for current or future business owners/entrepreneurs, or would you (a prospective business owner) be better off looking elsewhere for your opportunities?
While State Government authorities govern business broking in Australia, the various State legislation was predominantly developed to licence real estate agents rather than business brokers.
This is problematic because knowing how to market and sell a property is vastly different from understanding the intricacies of an operating business.
Business coaches and founders of Second Squared Ak Sabbagh and Lui Pangiarella say it’s ridiculous and outdated that business brokers only need essentially the same qualifications as real estate agents.
While there are organisations, such as the Australian Institute of Business Brokers, that have a code of ethics and continuing professional development that members abide by, membership of these organisations is voluntary, and there’s no guarantee a business broker would have taken advantage of the option.
“Buying or selling a business is a huge and potentially life-changing decision and most business brokers simply don’t understand enough about business to create value for their clients,” says Mr Sabbagh.
To demonstrate how low the barriers are, here is a quote from an Australian Business Broker website looking to recruit new business brokers:
“Experience in business sales is not essential as full training and support will be provided”.
Is it possible to help someone buy or sell a business if you haven’t had experience in business to start with?
Some brokers do have the business nous to get a client the result they want, and they are a pleasure to work and deal with. But when the barriers to becoming a business broker are so low, there is no guarantee of any level of expertise.
“Assisting in the buying and selling of a business is not the same as selling a house – it requires an entirely different skill set, but there’s no real requirement for business brokers to have that skill set,” said Mr Sabbagh.
“Too many people who use business brokers are buying themselves a salary or a lifestyle, not a business. They end up buying a job running a pre-existing business, not the business itself.”
“And part of the problem is that entrepreneurs simply aren’t aware there are other options available to them.”
A business broker should do more than find businesses to list on their website, marketing them to prospective owners. What’s missing? The skill, experience and willingness to actively match and support the needs of the seller with the buyer (and vice versa).
Mark is the owner of a business in Perth who was looking to sell. He reluctantly listed with a business broker after the broker offered to halve their commission.
“When it came time to do the deal, things went sour with the broker because I realised they had little to no understanding of the structuring, legal or tax implications of how best to complete the deal to my satisfaction,” said Mark.
“I had to employ a Corporate Finance expert in addition to the broker, and he did have the expertise to guide me through the process. I needed someone with the knowledge and experience to get me through what had been a very stressful life experience.”
For entrepreneurs looking to buy a business with real growth opportunities, Mr Sabbagh recommends they spent time in that sector of the industry and learn about where the best prospects are.
- Broaden your perspective: There are far more options available to those looking to buy and sell than merely approaching a broker.
- Get clear on what you want: It’s essential to set your goals before you embark on the buying or selling process.
- Build your network: The more extensive your contacts within your chosen industry, the more options and opportunities you will get.
- Develop industry relationships: A stronger understanding of the industry will equip you with the tools you need to identify opportunities for growth.
Buying a business is a long-term relationship, not a simple transaction, says Mr Sabbagh.
“You will learn so much more by talking and learning from people who work in the sector about where the value is, then you will be simply consulting with a business broker who has a vested interest in you buying a business through them, but no vested interest in that business being successful post-purchase.”
Second Squared is a business ownership accelerator with a difference. Rather than focusing on new products or technology Second Squared is primarily focused on the core element of business success – the entrepreneur who wants to own an already established business.
Lui Pangiarella and Ak Sabbagh work with aspiring business owners to get clear on their ultimate goals, their passion and capability, fears, blind spots and gifts. They work with them to develop the skills to accelerate their process of finding and acquiring a business that is right for them and connect them to the necessary people and resources they need along the way.
About Lui Pangiarella
Lui works with business owners and entrepreneurs to identify opportunities for funding and acquisition and capitalise on those opportunities effectively.
Over his career, Lui has had significant involvement in corporate development activity (mergers, acquisitions and divestments) in a range of industries covering transport and logistics, retail, chemical manufacturing, professional services, marine and civil engineering, laboratory services, subscription-based technology services, and for-purpose organisations.
Lui has been featured in the media as a commentator on business and entrepreneurship, also regularly writing about changes and trends within the industry. He is passionate about bringing new concepts and opportunities to the Australian industry.
As a business and executive coach for more than ten years, he has worked with small businesses to grow and ultimately position the owners for a successful handover to new owners.
He is a Chartered Accountant and a Graduate of the AICD Company Directors Course.
About Ak Sabbagh
Ak is an experienced business owner and founder, board advisor, director, corporate and business coach. He works with entrepreneurs to help them define what they’re looking for, obtain funding and process their acquisition faster and effectively.
His experience has led him to be invited as a keynote speaker on a variety of specialist topics including leadership and employee engagement, brand positioning, product and channel development, the role of the CEO, and growing the value of assets. Along with Mr Pangiarella, he is a commentator on business and entrepreneurship.
He is the founding President of the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (Asia Pacific Region), established in July 2018.
He is a graduate of the AICD Company Directors Course.