A Merchant’s Tale: Find Out How One Enterprising Biz Owner Made Buying and Selling Small Business His Business

By Stefanie Neyland, Small Business Content Developer at BizLaunch.com


Think you have to invent the next best thing since sliced bread to launch your own business? Think again.

When we hear the words ‘small business’, visions of entrepreneurs with big ideas and big dreams spring to mind. We think of the ‘a-ha’ moment, the financing of the new venture, and the road to success. What we often forget to associate with the words ‘small business’ are those companies who have been bought by an individual; and it’s exactly this area that today’s subject’s expertise lies in.

Put simply, Steven Beal—founder of Winnipeg-based Beal Consultants—helps people buy and sell their businesses. Which means that if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who’s waiting for that ‘eureka!’ moment that just hasn’t arrived yet, you needn’t wait any longer, as the answer might just lie in an already established business.

Today we catch up with Steven and hear all about how he manages to ‘make more happen’ at work, and how he makes it his business to know all there is to know about small business.


So Steven, what first inspired you to start your own business?

SB: I was inspired to start my own business after spending 20 years working for large businesses. I felt like I could do better on my own and was getting tired of my boss telling me what I had to do and when I had to do it.


How did you get your business off the ground?

SB: In order to get my business off the ground, I spent two years networking and meeting people to discover what small and mid-sized businesses needed in my area.


How long have you been in business?

SB: I’ve been in business for nine years now.


Who is your ideal customer?

SB: A business owner with a solidly profitable business, looking to retire and sell his or her company.


What makes your business unique?

SB: We offer a blend of consulting and business brokerage services that provide unique value to clients. By combining the disciplines of finance, accounting, strategic planning, business valuations and business brokerage, we can assist people who are looking to buy a business, start a business, sell a business, and grow a business.


What is your secret for 'making more happen'?

SB: A good Client Relationship Management (CRM) system—and the discipline to use it—has been essential. It took me a while to get it (and use it properly), but it has kept me sane.


What has been your greatest achievement so far?

SB: My greatest achievement so far in my business has definitely been working with people to help them achieve their goals.


What is your biggest challenge, and how do you overcome it?

SB: I’ve always had trouble with sales and marketing. I’m not a natural sales person, but I have to get clients. I overcome it by trying to be a good listener and understanding what people are actually looking for so that I’m not ‘selling’ so much as I am just trying to solve their problems.


What marketing channels have worked best for getting the word out about your business?

SB: Word of mouth is my best avenue, followed by networking and seminars.


What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

SB: Independence and excitement! Each and every day is completely different.


How has your business evolved over time?

SB: It started as just me managing the business and doing the work to grow to a team of three people with varied responsibilities. Service-wise, we started with a broad focus but narrowed our field down to very specific activities where we can add the most value. At the beginning we tried to be ‘all things to all people,’ but we now focus just on the areas where we can add the most value.


Is running your business harder than you thought it would be?

SB: Yes. Everything depends on you as the owner.


To what do you attribute your success so far?

SB: Stubbornness! Pure determination to succeed and not fail.


What are your goals for the future?

SB: My goals for the future are to continue to grow slowly and expand my market presence by working with larger clients.


What’s the most important item you buy at Staples?

SB: I buy all the company’s computer accessories, hardware and software from my local Staples store.


How has Staples helped you make more happen for your business?

SB: Staples helps me ‘make more happen’ as a business owner by providing the advice I need for technical solutions to issues I’ve had with equipment at my office. All our office furniture was also bought at Staples, and everything matches perfectly and works well together. The desks are modular, allowing us to shift configurations when our staffing levels change and our workload changes.


How does Staples make more happen for your business?

SB: By providing the tools I need, whenever I need them—even delivering supplies when we’re too busy to pick them up.


What advice would you give people who want to start their own business?

SB: Take a look at some of the businesses for sale. It may make more sense (in certain situations) to buy an existing business with established clients than to start a business from scratch.

By Andrew Patricio

December 30, 2013