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Approaching a business owner about selling

Is it a good idea to approach a business owner about selling when there is no indication that they would sell? 
It's not a bad idea, but there are things you should know about this approach.

If you approach them, expect to pay top-dollar for the business. After all, they have it and you want it. It will be hard to play coy after you take the initiative.

That's why it's recommended to use a professional intermediary (such as a business broker) to make the approach - without first disclosing that there is a particular interested party. You can then enter the scene later after it is determined that the owner has some interest in selling, which will give you much more negotiating leverage. 
Brain Trust contributor: Author of Strategies for Successfully Buying and Selling a Business and Preparing Your Business for Sale
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