Whether you are in the market to buy a small business, or you are a small business owner who is looking to sell, it is important to understand the reasons that business transactions fall apart in order to avoid this issue yourself.
Business deals can be destroyed by either side, so whichever side of the fence you are on, avoid these pitfalls:
The Buyer’s Side
As a buyer, you need to be sure that you really want to buy a business. Are you really ready to take on the responsibility and work that it takes to run a small business? Do you have the support of your spouse and family? Owning a business will mean sacrifices for your family too, even if it is just in terms of the time that you would be able to spend with them.
Another reason that buyers have trouble getting to closing is unrealistic expectations. Do you understand how businesses are priced? Do you understand the buying process? Many new buyers go into the process believing that buying a business is a lot like buying a house, but nothing could be further from the truth. Talk to a business broker about your expectations early on in the game, as it will prepare you for the realities of a business transaction before you get there.
Do some research on your own to be sure you understand small business ownership and operations. You will want a good grasp on small business ownership before you get to the closing table. You do not want to be faced with a crash course your first day as a small business owner. If you have any doubt in your mind, it might be wise to resolve those doubts before you begin the business buying process.
The Seller’s Side
Many sellers put their business on the market purely out of curiosity. They want to see what the market is like, and really don’t have any legitimate reason or motivation to sell. This is a big mistake, as it alienates any good potential buyers that come your way.
The major issue that keeps businesses on the market forever is the price. Many business sellers have completely unrealistic expectations about the price and the market for their business. Use a business broker to alleviate this issue, as they will be able to properly evaluate your business based on the current market.
In the same line as price, as a seller you may need to accept seller financing as a part of any potential deal. Although it does occasionally happen, most of the time buyers do not come to closing with all the cash up front. If you are serious about selling your business, accepting seller financing will get you more potential buyers than if you refuse to do so.
Another major deal killer is dishonesty. As a seller, you should not try to hide the negative aspects of your business from buyers, as they will likely figure these issues out on their own during the due diligence phase. Failing to disclose that the business is in bad shape, that there is a major competitor moving in, or that you are dealing with a serious environmental issue are sure fire ways to make a deal fall apart.
Be sure that all owners of the business are in agreement about the sale, and check with your business broker and attorney about any legal ramifications of selling your business. You will not want any legal surprises the day before closing.
Keep the Deal Alive
Business transactions are inherently complicated, so it is important to remember some key points. First, honesty is the best policy. Second, trust the judgment of your business broker. Third, keep your expectations in the realm of reality. Lastly, be patient with the process. If all parties are serious about getting the deal done, any potential problems can ultimately be resolved.
Are you a business buyer who has questions about the process to find and buy a business? Are you a business owner who wants to know when the right time to sell would be? Please leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.
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