Empty business storefront.
Several websites list for-sale businesses, as well as real estate and other assets on the market. These sites are a good place to start if you're looking to buy a business. — Getty Images/ kolderal

When it comes to buying a new business, it can be difficult to know where to start. Deciding whether to work with a broker, what kind of business you should buy, and which business-selling platforms could benefit you can be overwhelming.

To make the process less intimidating, here are some tips for finding new businesses for sale.

Work with a business broker

You can often find a business broker working in your particular industry — and, if you’re open to it, they can even introduce you to related or new areas that may align with your current interests. Beyond their contact list, business brokers can help you figure out what kind of business you want to purchase and what kind of sale might work best for you. Due to their experience, they can also advise you on which businesses seem especially promising and which aren’t worth your time or money.

Once you find a business to purchase, your business broker will be a huge asset to you during the negotiation process, acting as your intermediary. They can make sure you’re viewing all the appropriate documents and, if applicable, help you negotiate for more assets or a lower price. For their services, you will have to pay a business broker a 5%‒10% commission from the sale. Before committing to a specific broker, research their history and check their references to verify their skill set.

[Read more: 6 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Sale]

When you decide you want to purchase a business, a necessary step is consulting your network.

Explore businesses-for-sale platforms

Here are some possible websites and platforms that list businesses for sale:

  • BizBuySell: This site includes businesses from a large variety of industries at varying price ranges. You can search your area for franchises, independent businesses, and even brokers to guide you through the process. BizBuySell also has a partner network that includes The Wall Street Journal, the USA Today Network, and Small Business Trends.
  • BusinessBroker.net: This site helps you find brokers to work with, as well as businesses to buy. You can narrow your search by state, price range, and industry to find listings and asking prices, as well as cash flow and revenue information. If you don’t know what you want yet, you can poke around using the site's Categories feature.
  • LoopNet: With this site, you can buy businesses and buy or lease commercial properties like office space, warehouses, and restaurants. The site also has multifamily rental properties, which could be a great new stream of income for small business owners. You can subscribe to regularly updated listings from LoopNet right to your inbox.
  • BizQuest.com: Beyond the standard businesses and brokers, BizQuest has categories set up so you can narrow in on franchises, startups, real estate, and assets, which is helpful once you know exactly what kind of business you want to purchase. The site has a form for contacting the sellers so you can get started with your sale as soon as possible.
  • BusinessesForSale.com: Although smaller than BizBuySell, BusinessesForSale has almost 60,000 businesses listed in its marketplace. This site offers global businesses for owners hoping to take their companies international. BusinessesForSale is most popular with small businesses like coffee shops and gas stations.
  • BusinessMart.com: BusinessMart stands out from the rest because of its wealth of resources: brokers, funding options, and investment opportunities, on top of the catalog of businesses for sale.

[Read more: Buying an Existing Business? 4 Ways to Finance Your Purchase]

Leverage your network

When you decide you want to purchase a business, a necessary step is consulting your network. Because your network is likely connected to your industry in various ways, your contacts could know about other small businesses that are currently up for sale or will be soon. Additionally, your shared connections could help you land a purchase at a lower cost via networking opportunities.

Reach out to business contacts in your industry and express your interest in purchasing a business. Before doing so, however, understand exactly what you want from the purchase, including the ideal revenue, customer base, and size of the business.

[Read more: How to Network to Grow Your Small Business]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Simplify your startup’s finances
Not sure where to begin in getting your business’s finances in order? Navigating the complex finances of a growing start-up can be daunting. Learn about the key financial operations that will keep your startup running smoothly — from payroll to bookkeeping to taxes — in this guide.
Learn More