How to Become a Business Broker

By Eric Hammer

If you’ve ever watched the 1980s hit move "Working Girl" with Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver, then you know exactly what a business broker does (technically, she worked for a mergers and acquisitions firm, which deals in larger businesses, but the concept is basically the same); they are the middle man who helps to negotiate a deal between a buyer and a seller. But how does one become a business broker? What special skills are needed to find such a job?

In order to become a business broker, you need to have a head for business. You need to understand how to read a spreadsheet, how to understand a P&L (Profit and Loss) statement and you need to understand human emotions as well. When someone is interested in selling their business, they often have certain ideas about the kind of person they’d like to sell to and they will be counting on you to help them find the right kind of company to buy their business.

Finally, you need to have an intuitive understanding of what makes a business a good match for another one. As a business broker, you may be called upon to help sell small businesses, in which case you’ll likely be looking for individuals to purchase the business, however, you will also often be called upon to help arrange for a merger between two business, in which case you’ll need to understand how one business’ operations can be made to fit smoothly with another.

How Much Can You Make?

According to Salary Expert, business brokers earn between $65,000 and $100,000 annually depending on where they operate (brokers in the New York City area earn closer to $100,000 while those in Charlotte, NC and Orlando, FL tend to earn less, closer to $65,000 annually).

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The world of business brokers is a large one. While brokers are of course the main people involved in making the deals, there are other experts who get involved as well. Lawyers must be engaged to help draw up the papers for your merger or sale and PR firms often are hired as well to help the newly merged firm "sell" the concept of the merger to the public (if the merger you help arrange is a large one). There are even lobbyists who work for business brokers who will help push particularly large deals through the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission, which, among other things, regulates mergers to make sure they are not going to create a monopoly), though in most cases, these people work with mergers and acquisitions firms rather than business brokers.

You may also want to consider working in the world of mergers and acquisitions firms. While the concept is basically the same, M&A firms tend to work with larger businesses (ala Working Girl, mentioned above).

One successful business broker reports that in order to become a business broker yourself, you need more than just knowledge. You also need attention to details, knowing what’s going on at all times and you need to be able to multitask, moving from one task to the next and back again quickly as you are the "quarterback" for the sale about to take place.

Qualifications / Requirements

Ideally, you should have an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) and you should have a background in running a business. If you’ve never had to run a successful business, even if you’ve had the training to become a business broker, you’ll have a tough time relating to the people who may have built their business up from scratch and who now have decided they’d like to sell. Even if you don’t have an MBA, a college degree with a major in finance or economics is generally required for this kind of work.

First Steps

Start by going to school and earning an MBA if you have not already done so. Then, look for work as an entry level assistant business broker. Many successful business broker firms will take on junior associates and allow them to learn on the job. You probably will not be brokering large deals on your own right away but will instead be helping your boss to broker the deals or may pick up some of the very small jobs. Eventually, as you work your way up, you’ll be put in charge of larger deals all on your own.


All Business: How to Become a Business Broker or M&A Advisor – An excellent article from a successful business broker on how to get into the business.

American Business Broker’s Association – A not-for-profit organization that works with business brokers on a professional level and offers training to help people become business brokers.

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