The Business Emissary – St. Joseph, MO

  • Published: Monday, Oct. 21, 2019

An emissary is an individual who has been sent on a mission as a representative of another. This accurately describes John Norton, the owner of The Business Emissary in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Norton’s journey to entrepreneurship began when he decided that his ultimate goal was to become fully independent and own an island. To fund this dream, he headed down the path of entrepreneurship and began searching for a business to purchase.

After researching multiple options, Norton ultimately settled on a local home-health business located in southern Missouri. Before he began the purchasing process, he sought resources to help him. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce referred Norton to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Northwest Missouri State University.

In October of 2018, Norton met the Center Director of the Northwest Missouri SBDC, Rebecca Lobina. Together, they discussed the opportunity. Lobina prepared a business valuation, industry benchmarks, and a financial analysis of the business. They also reviewed financial projections which reflected that the purchase price was more than the business’s cash flow could support.

In the end, Norton concluded that the opportunity was not the best option for him.

However, it was during the two-month process of vetting the home-health business and exploring multiple creative financing options that Norton uncovered a new passion. He discovered that what he truly loved was the process itself. Working with business owners and seeing their desire for their business to succeed beyond themselves was something he thoroughly enjoyed. He had also recognized a need for business owners to be properly connected with business buyers.

These factors gave Norton an idea to start a business that he could funnel his newfound love into. His idea was to become an emissary for business owners who were interested in selling their business and match them with an appropriate buyer. Criteria for a buyer would be based on the goals of the owners. And he would not charge a fee, like a traditional business broker, unless the sale was successful.

Norton wanted his business to stand out from business brokers and from buy and sell websites. He says, in his experience, business brokers may not understand the love that an entrepreneur has for their business. And websites do not always connect the owner to the most suitable buyer; they only connect owners to a qualified buyer.

The result of these experiences and Norton’s newfound dream was The Business Emissary.

In May of 2019, Norton reached out to Lobina at the Northwest Missouri SBDC again. Lobina advised him to seek out an attorney to draft a contract for his business, offered feedback on his newly designed website, and even referred potential clients to him.

"The services of the SBDC are professional, relevant, and make a difference for entrepreneurs and existing business owners alike," says Norton.
Now, The Business Emissary is fully established and Norton is still pursuing his mission of helping others as they prepare for selling their business. He has even started writing a weekly newsletter focusing on what business owners need to do to prepare for the selling process.