If the value of your business is under $2 million, you’ll want to use a local business broker, hopefully who has experience in your industry, but whom most certainly will probably maintain a database of local buyers. Hopefully, the broker has gone through the process of pre-qualifying those buyers. So he’ll have a handful of people that have expressed interest in buying a Dairy Queen, c-store, or dental practice in your area and has the means to do it.
You can ask for recommendations from your peers or professional advisers (generally lawyers and accountants have run across one or two in their career), or check the yellow pages, Sunday classifieds (under “Businesses for Sale”), or an online resource like BizBuySell.com.
Again, as you do when entering into any business agreement, check references and have your attorney check the paperwork/agreement.
While most brokers insist on exclusivity for a certain length of time, and have a set fee structure (etched in jello), these terms are nearly always negotiable.