Baby Steps With Your New Business: Why Big Changes Are A Big Mistake
Posted in Become a Business Owner, Buyers Articles
When you are looking at businesses to buy, it can be very tempting to assume that the reason the business isn’t making record profits is an apathetic seller. What many budding entrepreneurs fail to realize is while it can be the case that a business could do much better with a fresh and motivated owner, running any business on a day-to-day basis is very hard work.
An existing business is open because of the system that the current owner has in place – and in many cases changes that could bring more profits are not made simply because there is no money or time to do them.
What can happen when a buyer is over enthusiastic about “revamping” a business? They walk into a business that is currently functioning and profitable, and (without trying to understand how the business works and what is keeping the doors open) gut the current system and try to implement one of their own. This is an enormous mistake.
As a buyer, you need to take the time to learn the business as it currently exists and give yourself the time to figure out what is currently working and what is not long before you try to implement any changes.
Another typical mistake is to completely renovate a space before you have a clear picture of what really needs to be changed aesthetically and what can remain as-is. By undergoing a major renovation, many new business owners blow through all of their working capital and end up in the hole financially before they even know how to make the business turn a profit.
The message here is don’t be one of these buyers. Don’t fix what isn’t broken! Instead, learn your new system and slowly implement changes only after you are absolutely sure that they are necessary and only when you have more than enough capital to cover them.
Are you a business buyer who wants a business that needs a lot of changes so you can make it all your own? Do you have questions about what kinds of changes are necessary and which ones can wait? Ask us! Please leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help you.
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Does Your Broker Care About Qualified And Informed Buyers? They Should
Posted in Business Broker Why & How, Buyers Articles, Sellers Articles
The process of buying and selling businesses can be a bit frustrating. There are rules and procedures in place that ensure the for-sale status and proprietary information of a business on the market only ends up in the hands of the people it should. Those rules and procedures rely on vetting potential buyers and then having buyers who are qualified sign the appropriate nondisclosure agreements (NDAs).
Here’s how it typically should look. A buyer calls a business broker and has a conversation about their goals for business ownership, the capital they have ready to invest and their past experience. The broker then uses that information to put together a few listings that look like they might match. If a listing or two catches the buyer’s eye, they sign the NDA for that business in order to find out more (like the location, basic financials, etc.). If they like what they see, they will then coordinate a conference call or face to face meeting with the business seller to ask questions. After a few of these meetings/calls a site visit might be scheduled before or after hours when the staff and customers won’t be around. If a buyer is interested they can submit a purchase offer and negotiations can begin.
Notice something? The sale of a business is complicated, requires a lot of steps and a lot of time. If the brokers involved are doing their job the buyers who enter this complex and time consuming process are both aware of what they’re looking for and actually able to buy the business in the end.
Here’s what you don’t want. A broker who will send you dozens of NDAs to sign without ever speaking to you, meaning you end up wasting your time looking at businesses that would never meet your goals. A broker who will bring a parade buyers through your business for site visits that could never afford to actually buy your business. A broker who will entertain the whims of a buyer who doesn’t have the practical experience necessary to qualify for a SBA loan or that your commercial landlord would immediately reject.
A broker who asks the right questions keeps a deal on track and keeps from wasting everyone’s time. You want a broker who actually talks to buyers. You want to be (if you’re a buyer) and want to work with (if you’re a seller) a buyer who understands the process, knows what businesses will actually fit with their goals and has the money necessary to get a deal to closing.
The message here is you need to ask any broker you work with questions and you need to keep an eye out for red flags. If you’re a buyer a broker should be asking you LOTS of questions before they send you any NDA. If you’re a seller your broker should only be bringing you buyers who are qualified and would be successful future owners of your business.
Are you looking at businesses to buy and haven’t had a broker yet who asked you a single question? Are you considering selling your business and want to know what type of buyer would be a good for your business? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.
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How An Innocent Conversation Can Mean The Destruction Of Your Deal: Buyers, Sellers + Confidentiality
Posted in Buyers Articles, Sellers Articles
Confidentiality is a big, big part of business sales.
What is confidentiality? When a business is for sale, the only people who should know that it is on the market are the seller, the business brokers and attorneys involved and qualified buyers who have signed the appropriate non-disclosure agreements. That’s it.
Most people new to the process don’t understand the importance of confidentiality. When you are buying a business, you want to know absolutely everything about the business so you can make an educated decision. When you are selling a business, you want to get the word out there so you can reach the most possible buyers. Confidentiality seems to stand in the way of those two goals, right?
It does, and it doesn’t. Sure, confidentiality makes it a little more difficult to spread the word or gather information, but there is a very big reason why confidentiality needs to be in place. Without it, a business stands to lose – a lot.
What can happen if confidentiality is breached and the for-sale status of a business gets disclosed? We’ve seen an entire staff quit and move to the competition, taking all of their regular customers with them. We’ve seen customers stop frequenting their once-favorite establishments. We’ve seen clients who are under service contracts cancel their contracts in favor of a more stable company. We’ve seen the local competition move in for the kill. Bottom line? It can be a disaster.
I signed the non-disclosure agreements and I’m not going to tell anyone, why is this such a big deal?
Here’s why. Most of the time when a business gets inappropriately disclosed it’s not because someone was shouting from the from the rooftops. A seemingly innocent conversation can derail a deal and hurt a business. Here’s an example:
A client was flying in from out of town to get a first look at a restaurant he was already very interested in buying. He had signed the appropriate non-disclosure agreements and hadn’t told anyone he knew the name of the restaurant or exactly where it was. On the plane, he strikes up a conversation with the woman sitting next to him. She tells him the name of the exclusive gated community where she lives, and he says “Hey! That’s where I’m going too! I’m thinking about buying the restaurant in that community!” She now knows that the restaurant is for sale, so when she gets off the plane a few hours later she casually mentions the conversation to a friend in the same community. “What a small world, right?” Within a few days the entire community knows about the for-sale status of the restaurant, including the restaurant staff who panic and quit en masse. This seemingly innocent conversation between complete strangers caused serious staffing issues and nightmare for both the business seller (who now has to find, hire and train almost an entirely new staff) and the buyer (who now has to take over the business without the experienced employees they were going to depend on).
The most important thing that you can do as both a buyer and a seller is keep the for-sale status of a business to yourself!
Are you a buyer who wants to know more about how you get information on a business without breaching confidentiality? Are you a seller who wants to know how you can keep your business sale a well-guarded secret? Ask us! Please leave a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help.
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What An Earn-Out Is And Why It’s Probably Not For You
Posted in Buyers Articles, Sellers Articles
When you’re in the business-for-sale market, it can take some creative deal making to put together an agreement that makes everyone involved happy – and sometimes that creative deal making involves an earn-out.
What is an earn-out?
This type of arrangement is typical when the value of a business to a seller is much higher than the value to a buyer, usually because of expected future earnings. Here’s an example:
A small boutique clothing manufacturer has recently secured a major contract with a very large retailer, a contract that will significantly raise the value of the business over the course of the next few years. The seller of the business, who has worked long and hard to secure this deal, wants to be paid for the future value of the business. A buyer, on the other hand, only wants to pay for what the business is currently worth – not including any potential future earnings.
One way to bridge this massive valuation gap is the earn-out.
How does it work?
A buyer pays the seller an initial amount, then (as in our above example) as the boutique manufacturer reaches certain milestones with the new large retail contract, the seller gets paid for those milestones. In an earn-out the valuation gap is bridged by paying for the future earnings as they happen instead of paying for the promise that they might.
Is an earn-out for me?
Not likely. As you can see from the above example, an earn out requires a very specific set of circumstances. Most business deals involve seller financing or loans from the SBA (Small Business Administration) instead.
How do I find out if an earn-out would be appropriate for a business I’m selling or considering buying?
Ask your business broker. Any experienced and qualified business broker will be able to advise you on the right type of deal for your business or for any business you are considering.
Have more questions about creative deals? Want to know if an earn-out is for you? Ask us! Please feel free to leave us a comment or question and we would be happy to help.
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Why “How Long Will This Take?” Is The Wrong Question For Business Buyers
Posted in Buyers Articles
How long does it take to buy a business?
This is a common initial question as a business buyer begins their search – but it’s not a great question.
First of all, it’s almost impossible to answer. Every small business is unique, and as such no two business purchase transactions happen on the same timeline. It typically takes about six months for a new buyer to enter the market, find and purchase a solid business. Please understand that this six month time span is by no means a hard and fast truth. The length of your transaction will be contingent on many, many factors.
Second, this isn’t the question you should be asking if you are thinking about buying a business.
Ask these instead:
What businesses could I realistically buy with the funds I have available?
Do you have the capital ready and available to buy and run a business? This isn’t anything like buying a house or a car. You can’t walk in with zero funds or only a small percentage down and expect to finance the rest. Not only do you need to have (at the very least) a substantial down payment (if seller financing is an option or if you are looking at third party financing like a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA)) you also need to have enough funds to retain some working capital that will be needed to pay for things like new inventory, payroll and the like when you first take over.
A note here: You don’t have to have an enormous amount of money to invest in the purchase of a business. There are many very affordable options in the small business market! You just need to be realistic and conservative with the funds you do have in terms of what business you buy.
What kind of businesses meet the goals I have for business ownership?
Many new business owners walk into the business market under the mistaken assumption that anyone can own and run any type of business. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To keep your business profitable, you will need to be able to both navigate and compete in the market you are in. If you have little to no relevant experience in your business, if it’s a business too large for you to handle, if the business has hours or ownership responsibilities that don’t mesh with the personal life you want to have – it’s not going to work.
Don’t make the mistake of asking the wrong questions. Talk with your business broker about what your financial means are and what type of business would best suit the goals you have. Starting with the right questions will make you a more successful business owner in the end.
Are you thinking about buying a business? Do you have questions about seller financing and the best type of business for you? Ask us! Leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help you.
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