Many people dream of owning their own business. If your goal is to find a business to buy instead of starting one form scratch, you need to look for a business that is aligned with your goals, skills and resources.

Finding a business to buy is a process that requires planning, perseverance and a solid network of contacts. So where should you start?

In this article, our tax and accounting firm outlines steps and strategies to help you find the right business for sale. Whether you're a first-time entrepreneur or a seasoned investor, these tips and tricks will guide you on the successful search for your next entrepreneurial venture.

Define your takeover project

Before buying a business, you need to define your takeover project clearly. This preliminary phase will enable you to target your search efforts effectively, identify opportunities that match your goals and minimize risk.

Identify your goals, budget and preferences

The first step is to clearly define your objectives as a buyer. Ask yourself questions, for example:

  • What are your motivations for taking over a company?
  • What are your short- and long-term financial goals?
  • How much are you prepared to invest in the business?

Defining clear answers will help you outline your financial limits, your expectations for return on investment and your criteria for success.

Decide on business size, sector and location

Once you have defined your goals and budget, it's time to specify the type of company you're looking for. This includes determining the size of company, the sector in which it operates and its geographical location. For example, you might be interested in small family-run businesses, or you might prefer more structured medium-sized companies. You might be attracted to a sector like technology or catering, or perhaps healthcare or another specific field.

Location is also an important consideration. Think about how close the business is to where you live, what regional economic opportunities are available, and the potential local demand for the company's products or services.

The importance of preparing before you begin your search

Finally, you need to understand the importance of preparing before you start looking for a business to buy. This includes creating a solid business plan, setting up your finances, consulting tax accountants, and assembling a competent team.

Proper preparation will help you stand out as a serious buyer, ready to seize the right opportunities as they arise. It will also help you avoid common pitfalls in the business takeover process, and approach this adventure with confidence and determination.

Finding a company for sale: 6 tips

Now that you've clearly defined your takeover project and drawn up a solid plan, it's time to explore the 6 essential tips for finding an SME that will meet your expectations.

1. Use available resources to optimize your search

Make the most of available resources while your search. Investigate online platforms that specialise in listing business for sale. Browse websites, forums and social networks dedicated to business sales. Some of these resources can provide valuable information on takeover opportunities.

2. Register with buyer databases

The Centre de Transfert d'Entreprise du Québec offers a database of buyers. Register on this platform to access a network of professionals and entrepreneurs looking for buyout opportunities. Here you can get in touch with potential sellers and stay up to date via the latest announcements.

3. Contact the Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce can provide valuable information for finding SMEs for sale in your region, and offer opportunities to discuss your takeover project. They can direct you to businesses that match your criteria and provide you with relevant local economic data.

4. Refer to trade publications to obtain information

Trade publications can be a useful source of information. It’s a good ideal to regularly consult publications, business magazines and newspapers dedicated to business transfers. You'll find ads, market studies and valuable advice to help you with your search.

5. Join buyers' clubs and professional networks

Buyers' clubs and professional networks are ideal places to meet other buyers, business transfer experts and potential sellers. By joining these groups, you can benefit from advice, recommendations and new leads for your search. These interactions can also strengthen your network of contacts.

6. Identify reputable firms and intermediaries

To access the hidden market of businesses for sale, it is often necessary to use professional intermediaries, such as business transfer consultancies. Identify reputable firms in your field of interest and start discussions with them. These experts can guide you towards takeover opportunities, carry out pre-diagnoses of businesses, and facilitate the negotiation process.

The challenges of finding a business for sale

Looking for the right business to take over can be a complex and demanding process. The most common challenges buyers face include:

  • Scarcity of opportunities: Businesses for sale with real potential are often rare, which means that competition between buyers is high.
  • Limits of company size: The vast majority of companies available for takeover are micro-businesses (VSBs) with fewer than 5 employees, while many buyers are looking for larger companies, which makes for a tense market environment.
  • Time and resources required: Finding companies to take over requires an investment of time and money. It's common to take many preliminary steps before finding the right company.

Open and hidden markets

In your quest to find a company to buy, you will be confronted with two types of markets:

  • The open or visible market: This market is made up of listings of companies for sale that are accessible to the general public, whether on specialized websites or other platforms.
  • The hidden market: Some companies do not wish to publicly disclose their intention to sell, either for reasons of confidentiality or to avoid disrupting business relationships. Accessing this hidden market may require the help of intermediaries and business transfer experts.

Challenges and pitfalls to avoid

The search for a business to buy also brings its share of challenges and potential pitfalls. Continue reading to learn about the common difficulties that buyers can encounter, and the precautions they can take to avoid them.

Common errors

  • Poor project definition: Not having a clear idea of your objectives and what you're looking for can lead you to waste time on SMEs that don't match your expectations.
  • Ineffective prospecting: Poorly planned and chaotic prospecting can waste a lot of time. You owe it to yourself to proceed step-by-step.
  • Lack of financial preparation: Ignoring the financial aspects of a takeover, including hidden costs, can jeopardize your project.
  • Being in a rush: Rushing to close a deal without proper due diligence can lead to unfortunate consequences.

Problems communicating with sellers

  • The seller's motivation: You need to make sure that the owner really is motivated to sell their business. Some sellers may be hesitant or undecided, which can lead to delays and uncertainty.
  • Confidentiality: Some sellers prefer to keep the transaction secret for a variety of reasons. This can make communication more complex and demand a high level of confidentiality.

Specific precautions for family business takeovers

  • Family conflicts: The sale of a family business [EK1] can trigger internal conflicts. Make sure you understand relevant family dynamics before you commit.
  • Power transition: The power transition process can be complex and emotional.

The challenges of taking over a bankrupt company

  • Funds required: Getting a bankrupt business back on its feet can require significant investment. Make sure you have the necessary resources.
  • Thorough analysis: Due diligence will allow you to understand the causes of problems and develop a solid recovery plan.

Get help to find a business for sale

Finding and buying a business can be an exciting challenge. However, it also requires careful preparation and thoughtful execution to succeed.

At, we understand the complexities of this process and are ready to accompany you on your journey. Whether you're just beginning your search or looking to maximize the value of your acquisition, our team is here to answer your questions and guide you to success.

Contact us today to discuss how we can become your trusted partner in finding and managing a business to take over. Your next great entrepreneurial adventure awaits you, and we're here to help you make it a reality.

Frédéric Roy-Gobeil


As President of and an entrepreneur at heart, I have founded many start-ups such as delve Labs and A former tax specialist at Ernst & Young, I am also a member of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés CPA and have a master's degree in taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke. With a passion for the world of entrepreneurship and the growth mindset, I have authored numerous articles and videos on the industry and the business world, as well as on accounting, taxation, financial statements and financial independence.

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