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Sunbelt Business Brokers

Introducing Sunbelt Business Brokers of Knoxville

For many entrepreneurially minded individuals, owning and operating a small business is the centerpiece of their American dream. The economic powerhouse of the U.S. economy, small businesses today create two out of every three new employment opportunities in the United States and represent the bedrock of our nation’s economy.

Small business ownership is an exhilarating experience requiring entrepreneurs to react to a wide range of issues on almost a daily basis. Successful owners surround themselves with experienced and trustworthy associates, as well as a small group of mentors who help guide them.

Nowhere is the experience of seasoned advisers more crucial than when buying or selling a small business. Many investors consider the purchase of an ongoing business with an existing customer base and cash flow preferable to launching a new business. Conversely, existing small business owners, perhaps contemplating retirement, are overwhelmed with all of the many responsibilities involved in selling their business.

Sunbelt Business Brokers, helping business sellers and buyers for more than 30 years, sells more businesses than anyone else in the world. In this issue of Everything Knoxville, we are excited to introduce to you Blake Henry and Tim Varney, owners of Sunbelt Business Brokers of Knoxville. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur considering a small business opportunity or an existing business owner with an eye on a new venture or possibly retirement, this interview with Blake and Tim might very well provide you with the successful outcome you hope to achieve.

EK: First of all, provide our readers with some insights into Sunbelt Business Brokers of Knoxville.

Blake: Sunbelt Business Brokers is a privately held business brokerage, merger, and acquisition firm. Its mission is to serve Knoxville area business owners to confidentially market their businesses for sale on a nationwide basis to ensure maximum exposure and to sell for the highest possible price. Sunbelt has more combined experience than any other firm in full-time business brokerage. We handle transactions of all sizes and types – from main street businesses to multi-million dollar, mid-sized corporations. No one in this marketplace is more committed and has more resources to attract buyers, both inside and outside the Knoxville area.

EK: Owning and operating a small business is a full-time endeavor. What mistakes do business owners frequently make when trying to sell their own businesses?

Tim: Two common mistakes come to mind:

  1. Small business owners typically wear many hats, including operations, sales, marketing, and administration, to name a few. Because day-to-day operational activities take precedent over strategic planning for selling a business, the sale process can suffer. Take too much time away from operations and the business suffers, which can impair its sale price. Sunbelt Knoxville eliminates this dilemma by offering strategic vision and insight to attract the ideal buyer for their business.
  2. Selling a business is extremely time consuming and complex, because most businesses are unique. Therefore, business owners don’t typically have the necessary skill sets or resources required to value, price, and aggressively market their business. We offer a proprietary combination of data points, national comparable research, and business financial restatement to realize the full value of the business.

EK: How does a business owner understand if their business has value on the open market?

Tim: Many business owners fail to recognize the intrinsic value they have created within their business and often elect to cease operations rather than marketing their business for sale. If the business has provided a living for the owner for a sustained period of time, it can likely do the same for someone else and thus has value. We will happily review your business and give an opinion as to the ongoing value of your business.

EK: Many would-be entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that launching a business is far less expensive than buying an existing business. How important is an existing cash flow and customer base to an investor?

Blake: Statistically, nearly 80-90% of all business start-ups fail. Stepping into an existing successful business provides the necessary reassurance that the business can succeed, as well as provide enough cash flow to earn a living, service financing costs, and continue to grow the business. Further, people forget to account for the “start-up” costs associated with a start-up. There are many one-time expenses incurred when launching a new business, including equipment, furniture and fixture purchase, lease space finish out, and office infrastructure, for starters. In an existing business purchase, most of these items have already been paid for. Everything considered, buying an existing business is usually the best solution offering the reassurance of an established cash flow and far fewer start-up headaches and expenses.

EK: How does Sunbelt achieve higher sales prices than the typical business owner selling on their own?

Tim: According to, Sunbelt has the “highest volume of businesses for sale, highest closing ratio, and highest average sale price.” We achieve this by understanding how to value the business, market the business, and leverage our 38 years of relationships working with business buyers across the country. Also, the power of the Sunbelt Network should not be underestimated. Our Businesses For Sale listings can be viewed and accessed by qualified buyers and our national broker network, thus offering unparalleled exposure. We simply attract and have access to more buyers. All of these factors contribute to the reason that Sunbelt is able to sell for more. 

EK: Business owners attempting to sell their own businesses often fail to maintain the confidentiality of their sales efforts. How can that impact them?

Blake: Maintaining confidentiality is perhaps one of the most important aspects of successfully selling a business. Tim and I understand this and specialize in marketing and selling businesses while maintaining a high level of confidentiality for the business owner. In the absence of this confidentiality, competitors may attempt to capitalize on the instability that can occur during this period of transition, not to mention the uncertainty that can result among employees. In most instances, a buyer desires to maintain the current employee structure, and changes to that structure could ultimately impact the price a buyer was prepared to pay.

EK: Business owners often lack the ability to find qualified buyers. How can Sunbelt help?

Tim: As the recognized leader in business brokerage, Sunbelt is the go-to organization for new prospective business owners. While working with buyers, we review their financial capabilities, interests, and goals prior to any meeting with business sellers. This ensures that business sellers are not inundated with buyers that are not genuinely interested or who do not possess the financial resources required to purchase their business.

EK: How do you maintain buyer and seller confidentiality?

Blake: We develop 100% of our marketing material for each client with confidentiality in mind. Once created, the seller approves every detail, word, and avenue of distribution. With Sunbelt’s natural ability to attract buyers, we then ask each prospective buyer to sign a non-disclosure agreement, as well as disclose their financial data demonstrating their ability to purchase the business. By the time a buyer/seller introduction occurs, a buyer has been through a multiple step process to better determine suitability and maintain confidentiality.

EK: What is the current environment for buying and selling a business?

Tim: The Greater Knoxville area is a great place to buy, sell, or operate a business based on a variety of factors, including the region’s stable economy. The local economy is diversified into a variety of sectors with recent substantial growth in trade, utilities, transportation, and financial activities. The economy is also buoyed by an unusually high number of business incubator facilities and a labor force with one of the lowest turnover and absenteeism rates in the country. Additionally, Knoxville’s overall cost of living is among the most affordable in the country, combined with lower than average nationwide housing prices, low taxes, no state income tax, and low utility bills. Lastly, pent-up demand after the 2008-2009 economic crises and increased financing availability make the current environment excellent for buying and selling a business.

EK: How can people with an interest in buying or selling a business contact you?

Blake: Tim and I are always excited to speak with anyone who is considering buying or selling a business. To further assist business owners in this decision making process, we are happy to provide a FREE BROKERS OPINION OF VALUE to the readers of Everything Knoxville. We can be reached by phone at 865-964-7786 or 865-951-3651 or by email at or to discuss this or any other questions you may have.

EK: In closing, is there anything you would like to add?

Tim: Blake and I thoroughly enjoy working with business owners that in many cases have invested a large portion of their lives building a successful business. We look forward to guiding each of our clients through the process achieving the maximum value for their business, both for them and their families, and to help oversee a successful transition that allows their business legacy to continue in the future.

Sunbelt Business Brokers of Knoxville

Blake Henry

Tim Varney

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