HomeBusinessThe Best Business Brokers (+What Everyone’s Afraid to Say)

The Best Business Brokers (+What Everyone’s Afraid to Say)


If someone tells you they can recommend a business broker for all businesses, they’re full of it.

I’d never trust a generic “business broker” myself.

Every industry takes a good decade of experience to figure out. Even within online businesses, there are massive differences between SaaS, ecommerce, infoproducts, affiliate businesses, and agencies. It’s exceedingly rare to find someone that knows what they’re talking about with just two of those online business types. Let alone multiple industries.

Use These 2 Rules When Deciding Who To Trust for Business Brokers

I’ve spent my whole career growing online businesses. I’ve got a great online business broker recommendation for you. But anything outside that circle of competence, I haven’t the faintest idea who to talk to. If you want to buy a franchise business, definitely don’t ask me.

The first rule for finding a good business broker: only trust broker recommendations from people that have at least a decade of experience in that same industry.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume most of the other blog posts ranking for “best businesses brokers” probably don’t have that kind of experience.

The second rule: when you pick a broker, choose a broker that specializes in your industry.

Markets for different businesses jump around a lot. Take SaaS. In the post-Covid bump, valuations got nuts. First the public markets went insane, then a bunch of IPOs went crazy, then late-stage VC valuations, then all the way down the stack. Selling a SaaS company in the middle of that would have fetched a mighty fine premium.

Well, SaaS valuations were then dragged through the mud as the tech euphoria crashed back to earth. Again, starting with the public markets, the IPO window shut hard, and all the private valuations crashed with it.

The only reason I know this is because I got my career started in SaaS and I continue to pay attention to the market.

Every industry has cycles like this. And if your broker isn’t super tapped in, how are they going to help you get a solid deal done?

They aren’t.

So find a specialist.

Best Business Brokers for Online Businesses

This is the industry where I can give real recommendations, I’ve spent over 15 years building online businesses. You have a few main options, let’s go through each.

FE International – Hands Down, The Best Business Broker for Online Businesses

If I was trying to sell one of my online businesses, or dead set on acquiring something, the first phone call I would make is to FE International. I’m not even sure I’d shop around.

These folks have been one of the key online business brokers for well over a decade. I’ve worked with them and know tons of folks that have worked with them too. I’ve only heard great things, not a single horror story or even a small grumbling.

Here’s what I love about them:

  • Just large enough to handle serious acquisitions. But still small enough to be a tight-knit team. You’ll get plenty of attention from them instead of getting lost in a huge pipeline of other customers.
  • Everyone I’ve integrated with over there has been on top of it. Great communication and followup.
  • They live and breathe online businesses. So when they talk about valuations, I listen.

Years ago, I even met the CEO and founder, Thomas Smale, at a conference. He’s a real standup guy.

I really wish they were paying me to feature them here. But they aren’t.

Empire Flippers – I Won’t Do Business With Them

I’ll never buy or sell a business through Empire Flippers. I’m not even going to link to them from this blog post.

I’m gonna skip a lot of the details. Short story is we looked at a business for sale via their platform, then got a cease and desist from them. This was a few years ago and I’m still pissed about it.

Do whatever you feel is best for you. But I generally don’t like doing business with folks that threaten to sue me.

A real shame too, they have a ton of great properties for sale. And their platform was solid. Oh well.

Flippa – Good for Low Revenue Businesses

Everyone buying and selling online businesses has heard of Flippa. I don’t personally use them.

There’s nothing blatantly wrong with Flippa, I avoid it for a few reasons:

  • The businesses that are typically for sale on Flippa are a lot smallerwhat  than I’m interested in.
  • For me, they’re small enough that it’s a better use of my time to build from scratch instead of rolling the dice on an acquisition. That way I’ll know it was built right, I won’t have to worry about some sketchy link building or something biting me later.
  • There’s a lot of useless junk you have to wade through. People do use Flippa to offload their problem projects.
  • I’d also be surprised if I was trying to sell a project in their revenue sweetspot. These days, I’m trying to go bigger than that.

That said, I do think Flippa is perfect for someone trying to buy one of their first businesses. If you’re using it to build up your expertise with a smaller acquisition, it’s perfect for you. Similarly, if you built up a small site and just want to offload the thing to get on with your life, listing it on Flippa is a great option.

What About Other Industries? How Do You Find Business Brokers For Them?

For me, this problem largely solves itself.

Here’s a spicy take: if you’re not sure who the top 2-3 business brokers are in a given industry, you’re probably not deep enough in that industry to buy a business anyway. I mean, you could. It just isn’t a good idea.

Could I go out and buy some commercial real estate right now? Maybe. Would I get my face ripped off? Absolutely. I haven’t even bought a home yet, I still rent. I have absolutely zero expertise in real estate and shouldn’t go anywhere near it. Same with franchises, HVAC companies, laundromats, restaurants, and a host of other business types.

Look, if you’ve done really well for yourself and buying a new business outside your expertise is a hobby project for you, go have fun! I recently met a woman that bought a Football (soccer) Club for the first time and was super excited to turn it around. (Yes, I’m aware this sounds awfully like Ted Lasso). She didn’t have any experience but she could clearly afford it and was enjoying every minute. Hats off to her. But for the rest of us, we should stick to the areas we truly know. That’s where we have an advantage.

And if you’ve built a business that you’re looking to sell, I’d be surprised if you haven’t stumbled across the key business brokers already. Even if you’ve been super heads down and really don’t know who the key brokers are, you will have industry contacts. Ask around a bit, you’ll quickly see who gets recommended the most.

In other words, as you get into an industry, you’ll naturally stumble across the key business brokers.

Enough Lars, I’m Going in Cold and Still Want a Business Broker. How Do I Do it?

Alright, fair enough. You’re not going to like my answer though.

First, don’t Google around. Most of the sites that rank for business broker terms in Google have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s gonna take a lot more work than that.

Instead, find communities around the business type that you’re interested in. Could be a subreddit, Facebook group, blogs, experts on Twitter (X I guess?), whatever. Once you’re in the community, you’ll consistently start bumping into new experts.

Once you’ve connected with a few industry experts, reach out and ask which brokers they recommend. And if they don’t have personal experience themselves, just ask who the key players are. They’ll likely know.

Yeah, it’s networking and cold outreach. The tried and true solution to starting anything from scratch. It’s not fun but it always works.

The other thing you can do is check out BizBuySell. They’re not business brokers, they’re a platform of businesses for sale. They’ve got all sorts of stuff, Scooter shops, gas stations, marketing firms, etc. And brokers do list their own businesses on the site. Look around, dig into similar listings for the types of businesses that you want, you might start to figure out who the main players in your industry are.




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