The Toxic Myth Of The Perfect Business – How To Handle Messy Books

It is a very common complaint in the world of business sales. A buyer comes to the market with money in hand and ready to buy the right business – but every time they request financial documentation what they get is poorly assembled numbers, difficult to understand tax returns and no current financials of any kind.

 

Do they want to sell their business or not?

 

What you have to remember about the small business world is owning your own business is a tough and time-intensive enterprise. Small business owners are great at what they do, but most are not trained accountants. Many times record keeping and financial documentation fall down the priority list, and what a buyer is left with is what the seller was able put together in the short time the business has been listed.

 

 

When we take on a listing for a small business we often get handed nothing more than a big box of crumpled papers and register tapes – and have to figure out the numbers from there. This is not true of all small businesses, as some owners are better record keepers than others – but you have to remember that even a great business may not have the world’s most organized books.

 

It is also typically true that the larger the business is, the more likely it is that they have an accountant on payroll and therefore the more complete the records will be – but if you are in the market for a small business you probably don’t have the couple of million dollars you would need to buy one of these higher-priced and more-complete-records businesses.

 

What should I do then? How can I decide with seemingly incomplete records?

 

Have patience, and understand that you will never get perfectly organized books. What you will get is the opportunity to look at all of the financial records of a business once you have entered the due diligence phase. Your business broker will be there to help you, and if the books really are a mess then perhaps an accountant familiar with business transactions will be brought in.

 

What you can do as a buyer is use that not-so-pretty cursory information you get with your first requests – like P&L statements and tax returns – to weed out businesses that don’t suit you and focus a more thorough look on on the ones that do.

 

Are you in the market to buy a business, but are disappointed with the information you’ve been sent so far? Would you like to know more about how we as brokers turn that jumbled box of paperwork into use-able numbers? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here, we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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The Age Of Retail And Service Giants: How One Angry Customer Might Sink The Ship And Your Business Sale

Are you selling your business? Daydreaming about your new life after the sale? Thinking about life on a beach with a drink in your hand? Thinking about the future can be a great distraction, but if you own a small business in the retail or service sectors – you need to be careful about letting your focus slip.

 

Why?

 

We’ve all had that bad customer service experience. We’ve all skimmed past the 2 and 3 star businesses when reading reviews – preferring to give our business to someone with a 4 or 5.

 

We all know that one bad experience and one angry customer can create 10, 20, 100 more – particularly in the age of online reviews.     

 

We also live in the age of retail giants, and the threat they pose is real – particularly for smaller main-street businesses. There’s also a new trend of huge service-based companies moving into smaller markets. While these monsters swallow up huge chunks of what was previously small business territory you only have a few things those enormous companies don’t. The most important of those few things is local, loyal customers. 

 

Your local, loyal customer base is your bread and butter – and they are loyal because you are reliably good at serving their needs. They’ve never had a bad experience at your business. They tell their friends and coworkers to try you out. Then you decide to sell and take your foot off that all-important customer service pedal.

 

Losing your focus is never a good thing, but it can have potentially devastating consequences if your are in the midst of trying to sell. Buyers want to see all of your numbers, and if your numbers show a dramatic slide once the business went up for sale – it’s a sign of a huge problem. Buyers are also going to immediately look your business up online and read reviews. If your customer service has taken a turn for the worse you’d better believe those local and loyal regulars are going to be speaking out on review sites. No one want to take over a business that has been neglected to the point of faltering or a business that is hemorrhaging regular clientele. 

 

How do you keep this from happening? Stay the course you always have and focus on those regulars. Selling your business can take 9 to 12 months (or more) in most cases, so you need to act like you aren’t selling for that period. A year of neglect can do insurmountable damage to a business and to it’s reputation – so stay on the ball.

 

Are you thinking about selling and hadn’t considered how online reviews may impact your sale? Do you have advice for other business owners about how to stay the course through a sale? Would you like to know what businesses like yours are currently selling for? Leave any questions or comments here. We would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Are Good Businesses For Sale? A Business Buyer Question

 

If you are considering a foray into small business ownership you may have a very common misconception – that any business that would be offered for sale must be a business on the brink of failure. This misconception probably comes from media portrayals of huge multi-million dollar mergers and acquisitions with the purpose of preventing bankruptcy or saving a major brand name. The truth is, however, that perfectly good businesses go on sale every day, from the small main-street shop to businesses that employ thousands of people. 

 

Think about home sales. A home that is listed on the market might be a tear-down, but for the vast majority of home listings the house is in great shape. The same goes for businesses.

 

If good businesses do go up for sale, why? Why would someone sell a great business?

 

Business owners decide to sell for a myriad of reasons. Many of these reasons are similar to reasons one might give for listing a house. Maybe the current owner is looking to get a financial return so they can retire. Maybe they are looking to move to another area. Perhaps they have some sort of family situation that is forcing them to sell – the point is not every business on the market is teetering on disaster.

 

Ok, so how do you tell if a business on the market is in good shape (or not)?

 

Do your homework and ask questions. When you inquire about a particular business you will be given access to cursory financial information. You can use that initial information along with general research (like the business website, reviews, social media accounts, etc.) to determine if you want to move ahead in the business purchase process. If you are very serious about a business then conversations with the current owner, site visits and the like would happen next. After your offer to the seller has been negotiated and accepted you will enter the due diligence phase, where you will be able to pour over everything and decide if the business is still right for you.

 

You will have ample time and opportunity to discover any issues the business has, and then you will have the choice to proceed or stop based on what you find. Even if a business isn’t in amazing shape, it could be a good buy because you could pay less up front and then work to turn the business around. This is typically the path a serial entrepreneur takes, buying a business in trouble and then growing it with the intention to sell once the business has met certain markers for success.

 

The point is that there are lots of good businesses out there, and your path to business ownership will give you all the information you need to make an informed choice about what you are buying.

 

Are you thinking about buying a business but have more questions about the process? Would you like to know what kinds of business ownership opportunities are currently available? You can click here to search, or leave us any questions or comments here.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Am I Buying The Building? Commercial Leases And Business Buyers

If you are new to the world of buying a business, then you likely have some basic questions that need to be answered before you really get rolling. One very common question we get from the curious future entrepreneur when discussing businesses to buy is:

 

Do I have to buy the building too?

 

 

The answer to this question is almost always no, as commercial leases are the norm in the small business world.

 

What do I need to know about commercial leases when I’m looking to buy a business?

 

First and foremost, you can’t simply look at the amount of rent the current owner pays and the length of time left on the current owner’s lease to understand the nuances of the commercial lease market. It is also very important to understand that while you as a new owner will get a new lease, the rent amount itself is unlikely to change in a major way (and if it does change it will probably go up, not down) – especially if the current lease has quite a bit of time left. The property owner already has someone who is committed to paying that rate for the remainder of the lease term, so they have no motivation to change the terms of the lease for a new owner.

 

Commercial lease rates depend on a large number of factors, but in general it will depend on where the business is located. In some parts of town you may be able to get a commercial lease at $8 per square foot, while in another part of town not far away the typical lease rate will be more like $40 per square foot. A property on a main street or in a plaza with a strong anchor business will fetch higher rent than a business somewhere off the beaten path. A location on the water will also have a higher rent rate.

 

If you are in the initial phases of searching for a business and think a particular rent rate looks ridiculous, don’t make a judgment on the business or the lease until after you have spoken to your business broker. They will be able to tell you if a lease rate is truly ridiculous, or (more likely) if a lease rate is in line with the current location of the business. It is also far more important to look at the cash flow of a business than to get hung up on the lease.

 

In terms of renegotiating the lease rate, it will depend on a number of factors – like the length of time left on the current lease and other factors (like location) that we’ve already discussed. In some business transactions there will be a little wiggle room on price – but for the most part a property owner is not going to cut a lease rate significantly for a new business owner.

 

While you won’t be able to cut the lease rate in half, you will more than likely get a chance to renegotiate other parts of the lease, like the length. For instance, if the current owner only has six months left on their commercial lease, you certainly can’t be expected to pay $100,000 for a business with no guarantee on the current location for anything more than that short amount of time. Your lease will likely be renegotiated for a much longer term, sometimes 5 or 10 years. Each situation and each property is different – so you will need the expertise of your business broker for this part of the renegotiation.

 

If you are new to the process of buying a business, don’t get hung up on seemingly high lease rates or on short lease terms. Your business broker is there to help you understand any lease and also to renegotiate a lease to best suit your interests as the new owner of a business.

 

Are you searching for businesses and have questions about why certain lease rates are so high? Do you want to know which areas typically have lower lease rates? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments here and we will be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

 

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Business Buyer? Must-Haves – The Right Help

 

If you are considering taking the plunge into entrepreneurship by buying a business, you should know that the best way to be a successful business buyer is by using all of the resources available to you – namely the experts who can help you along your path.

 

Why do I need help? Aren’t experts expensive? Wouldn’t I be saving a ton of money by buying a business on my own?

 

You absolutely, positively need to have the right help when making a purchase as large and life-encompassing as buying a business. That help needs to be experienced in their field and have the knowledge to properly guide you through the business transaction process.

 

Going it alone may seem like a good idea because there aren’t any fees or commissions to pay, but you will more than likely end up in hot water if you don’t know what you are doing – and that can mean way more money spent cleaning up the mess on the back end than you ever would have spent hiring the right help.

 

What kind of hot water could you end up in? You could be shut down if you don’t handle licensing and permitting issues correctly, you could end up signing a purchase contract that doesn’t cover what you thought it did, you could end up discovering surprise debts the business owes after you’ve signed on the dotted line and that business is now your problem alone – just to name a few. In addition, most businesses you buy do not come with the corresponding real estate, so a commercial lease will need to be negotiated – and commercial property managers are notorious for being difficult, more so if they feel like you don’t know what you are doing.

 

What should you do instead? Employ the right help, they will be worth their weight in gold.

 

What help might I need

 

A Business Broker

 

This person will be the main adviser you use for the purchase of a business. They will assist you with your search, help you obtain the information needed for due diligence, help you make sense of the numbers, negotiate with the sellers for the best price, negotiate and play middle-man with the landlords and property managers, help you get the appropriate licenses and permits, help you transfer utilities and vendor contracts – the list goes on. A good, experienced business broker has already seen everything that could possibly go wrong in a business transaction, so they can help you avoid the pitfalls and come out with the right business for you.

 

A Business Transaction Attorney

 

Notice we didn’t just say “attorney”. A family law attorney will do you no good in a business transaction in the same way a plastic surgeon isn’t going to be of much help if you have back pain. An attorney who specializes in business transactions will be best equipped to help you navigate your purchase contract and help you on closing day.

 

A Business Transaction CPA

 

Again, we didn’t say just “CPA”. Not all accountants are familiar with the very tangled web of numbers one finds in a small business. The one or two numbers on the bottom of a tax return are not going to tell you everything you need to know about how much money the business makes. For example – has depreciation been taken into account, have the personal benefits of vehicles and cell phones been added back, has the value of the inventory been accounted for? Having a CPA who has business transaction experience will be your best bet for understanding the numbers.

 

The moral of the story? Your best bet for the successful purchase of the best business for you is to have the right help along the way.

 

Have more questions? Don’t believe us? Leave questions, comments or concerns here and we will be happy to talk to you more.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907




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