Living in southwest Florida definitely has its perks, and it has become a destination for the future entrepreneur. Our current business market is booming, and business buyers are flocking from seemingly everywhere to join the ranks of our small business community.
If you live outside of the area and are considering a move to buy a business in the sunshine state, here are a few pointers you should consider before you make a trip down.
Buying a business is absolutely nothing like buying a house.
Many folks come to the business market with the mindset that the process will be very much like buying a house – but nothing could be farther from the truth. If finding a home is the goal of your trip, you might call a local real estate agent and ask them to set up a dozen or so homes to see a week or so before you jump on a plane, but if you try to do the same thing with buying a business you will be completely out of luck.
You must, must, must plan ahead.
The process to buy business has many steps, and starts with contacting a business broker. This first step should come long before you’ve even bought your plane ticket. You and the local broker should have a conversation about your goals for business ownership, your work experience, how much capital you are planning to invest and the industries that interest you. Your broker will then send you listings that fit with your goals and will ask you to review those listings and narrow down your choices. Once you have two or three listings that appeal to you, you will be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for each listing (read more about NDA’s here). Once the NDA is signed and submitted to the listing broker, you will be sent the marketing package – complete with the name and address of the business in question. You and your broker will review each package and come up with a list of questions to ask the sellers, which you will have an opportunity to do once a conference call is set up. After the conference call, if you are still interested in the business, a tour of the physical location can be arranged but will have to be coordinated between your travel schedule, the schedule of the business (for confidentiality reasons buyers can only see a business before or after hours when no employees or customers are present), the schedule of the sellers and the schedule of the brokers involved.
Doesn’t sound like something that can be done or thrown together in a day, does it? That’s because it can’t.
It is very common for a buyer to call us on a Friday to say they are catching a plane the next day to visit some businesses over the weekend – and then they are upset when we tell them their request is impossible. If you are serious about buying a business you will need to go through the proper steps and plan visits to businesses long before you set foot on a plane. Business transactions are inherently complex and require lots of moving parts, so you need to both plan ahead and be flexible.
But I’m planning on writing a very big check to buy a business, why can’t you accommodate me?
It’s not that we are trying to be difficult; it really is that last minute requests are completely impossible. We also don’t want to waste your time taking you to businesses that don’t fit with what you are hoping to get from business ownership. The process works, and if you follow it you will be better set up for success in your new business venture.
Are you considering a move to southwest Florida? Do you have more questions about the process and want to know how to get started? Leave us any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help.
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907