The Messy Marketplace


The marketplace for small to midsize businesses is messy.
Having peeked behind the curtain at over 10,000 companies,
this book aims to demystify the buyers, the process, and the inevitably emotional journey that is selling a company.

Read it. Reference it. Share it.


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Deal professionals interested in bulk ordering (10+ books) for prospective and/or current clients should contact us for discounted pricing.

Brent Beshore has two unique skills: He understands the nuance of private markets better than anyone I know, and he can communicate the complexity of private markets in a way that is understandable. There are many experts. There are many great communicators. There are few of both, and Brent’s work is invaluable.
— Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund
Brent Beshore has spent years honing the art of buying businesses and this hands-on book is what you need to know in order to sell your business.
— Shane Parrish, Farnam Street & Syrus Partners
It’s simply not possible to find the knowledge you’ll gain reading this book anywhere else. It’s an insider’s guide to the acquisition process. Insightful and straightforward, this book will have you prepared for the day you decide to take outside capital, or exit.
— John Garrett, Community Impact Newspapers
I’ve learned more about business from Brent than I have from anyone else alive. He has reviewed thousands of small companies up for sale, so his perspective is invaluable to business owners. The Messy Marketplace is easy to read, detailed, and written entirely with sellers in mind—but buyers should read it, too.
— Patrick O'Shaughnessy, OSAM

My name is Brent Beshore and I’m the founder and CEO of, a firm that invests in and partners with closely-held, family-operated companies in North America.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely an entrepreneur, the family member or close friend of a business owner, or an advisor to an owner. While no one likes to admit it, the unavoidable truth is, at some point, in some way, each business must be transitioned — years pass, people age, markets change. This often carries an unfortunate amount of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Most of the time, transitioning is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence and the traditional paths are unnecessarily opaque.

Do something enough and you get good at it. Just as you have built your expertise, over more than a decade, my colleagues and I have had the privilege to peek behind the curtain at over 10,000 companies — reviewing financial statements, meeting with leadership, and seeking to understand what makes each company tick. We are professional investors, and this is what we do day in and day out.

Talking with hundreds of business owners, we noticed that many of the same questions, concerns, and thoughts repeat. And that makes sense. Just as all businesses share many commonalities, sellers of those businesses will have mostly similar experiences, with differences in personality, motivation, and situation driving the nuance.

This book attempts to demystify transacting from a seller’s point of view. As much as the finance industry likes to pretend to be “buttoned up,” they’re largely disorganized and unnecessarily shrouded in mystery. The title says it all — it’s a messy marketplace, with every type, temperament, and motive imaginable.

The goal of this book is to help sellers, the families of sellers, sellers’ advisors, and company leadership to understand the market for smaller companies, allowing them to make better decisions and create better outcomes.

Our hope is that you walk away from this book better prepared to understand the path forward, the vantage points of everyone involved, and the process of a transition through a transaction with an outside investor. Whether you choose this course or another, such as an employee stock ownership plan or a management buyout, being informed is the best path towards making that choice responsibly.

There is no pitch for my firm in these pages. That said, if I, or anyone at, can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us here.


Excerpts From Amazon Reviews

This is a practical guide for buying and selling all businesses. Not just small enterprises. A lot of these techniques are used in some of the largest private equity deals, albeit on a much larger scale. I loved the author’s completeness, his concern for every line item of a balance sheet. A multiplicity of concerns arise during such transactions and Beshore shows how a lot of different mechanisms have evolved to align the incentives of buyers and sellers...
— Brian LaRocca
Brent is unflinchingly honest about the misalignments in communication, expectation, price, and seemingly every facet of the sale process that can take place between buyer and seller, and writes from a place of comprehension, empathy, and experience. As the book explains, while the process may not be altogether painless, the Messy Marketplace will ensure that you will go into the process fully aware of the experience to come...
— Ethan Hirsch
For advisors and financial professionals, I found this to be a good companion to HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business by Richard S. Ruback and Royce Yudkoff. That book, of course, looks at the process from the buyer’s point of view, but the overlap between the two books reinforces the expectations you’ll encounter in a deal. Beshore also stresses the importance of having good, experienced advisors on your side. Those advisors who are not experts on the process (and sorry, reading this book doesn’t qualify you - or me) should have the humility and professionalism to help their client-owners find someone who is...
— John Dutemple
This book is fantastic. It will answer all the questions you have and like 1000 others that you don’t know to ask. It’s a really easy read and invaluable if you are thinking of selling your business. This will likely be in the book hall-of-fame ... if there is such a thing ;-)
— John Ewing