Joe Braier Offers Advice on Buying and Selling a Business
What should you consider when you’re looking to buy a business? How do you plan an exit strategy when you’re thinking about selling a business?
These are complex issues, according to Joe Braier, a certified business valuation analyst. “There is an incredible, wide variety of options available [when buying or selling],” he says. “You need the right people in your corner to guide you through the process because you need that layer of protection to make sure you’re doing things appropriately.”
Braier’s company, Lakes Business Group, is the premier business brokerage in the Milwaukee and Chicago market.
Unlike buying or selling homes, businesses are each unique and require a special set of skills to get them sold. No two businesses are the same, according to Braier. “Even if two companies are metal fabrication businesses, both located in Milwaukee, they can be very, very different.”
The companies may have different target audiences and customer bases, a different number of employees, and one may have higher profitability. “The amount of aspects that need to be reviewed in order to understand the overall value of the business can be complex,” Braier says.
Braier became a business mergers and acquisitions advisor with Lakes Business Group after careers in banking and real estate. He enjoys the entrepreneurial challenges of his latest role that include marketing, analyzing financials, thinking strategically, and analyzing goals and objectives.
“The most important thing is that we get to help people,” Braier says. “We try to discover the ‘why’ — why is a business owner wanting to execute an exit strategy? That helps us develop an overall game plan to be able to find the appropriate buyer to step in, acquire the company, and accomplish the goals and objectives of the business owner.”
In his role as a mergers and acquisitions advisor, Braier is also a mentor to business owners. He draws on his relationships with lenders and other service providers to help business owners navigate the pitfalls and roadblocks that spring up along the path to acquiring a new business.
“It’s our duty to gather those other advisors that are in the business owner’s corner and put together the overall goals and objectives. We decide who is doing what. We joke and say, ‘It takes teamwork to make the dream work.’ We work with attorneys, accountants, bankers, and insurance carriers to act as advisors and execute the overall plan to accomplish the goals of the business owner.”
One of the biggest goals to be met is making sure the business is profitable and healthy so that financing can be arranged. That means knowing which lenders to work with for different types of business — and not all banks are the same, according to Braier. “Some banks have specific appetites for specific industries. Whether you’re a bar or restaurant, an optometry practice, or a manufacturer, you need someone who can tell you which bank is going to approve you. We can offer a number of recommendations.”
Perhaps the strongest value in using an advisor like Braier is his ability to provide a straightforward assessment of an business’ real worth. “A lot of business owners aren’t 100 percent sure what the value of their company is,” Braier says. “We can give them a realistic range of what the business will sell for, based analysis of financials as well as discovering hidden discretionary expenses. We determine the true economic reality so that we can price the business accordingly and leverage value to the highest degree.”
This not only helps the buyer understand the value of the business, but also helps the seller understand what price to expect and determine if that accomplishes their financial goals and objectives in selling the business.