For most businesses, the time on the market between listing and selling is in the neighborhood of 9 to 12 months. The typical time between an accepted purchase contract and the closing table is somewhere around 30 to 90 days. These industry stats might be helpful for a business seller, but if you are a buyer – what does the process of buying a business mean in terms of time frame? How long will it take a buyer to buy a business?
The answer is it depends. And it’s really complicated. Yes, that’s a terrible answer, but it’s the truth. Here’s why:
It depends on the industry.
Like any market there are waves of popularity for specific types of businesses – and if the type of business you are looking for is a hot commodity, it might take you a while to get your hands on one. Great businesses in popular categories land under contract very quickly, so you might miss out on a few before you get lucky. What that means for time frame is a lot of waiting around for another shot.
It depends on what’s for sale.
You might have a specific type of business in mind, but within that category the current choices on the market may not hit enough of your criteria to warrant a purchase. Like the popular industry problem we just talked about, waiting for a business to come up for sale that fits what you want could take a while.
It depends on the complexities of the purchase contract.
Even if you luck out and get a business that suits your goals under contract, the length of time to get from accepted contract to closing varies from deal to deal. Some close quickly, in a month or so. Some contracts need to be negotiated for over a year. It depends on many, many factors and varies considerably from deal to deal. You may have many aspects of the purchase contract to negotiate or it may be very straightforward. The only way to know will be to get to this phase of the transaction and then to have some patience with the process.
It depends on the existence of financing.
If you aren’t paying all-cash for your new business (most people don’t), then the time frame can be prolonged because of financing issues. If you are working out a deal where seller financing is in the mix, that can add another layer to the negotiation process. If you are getting your funding through a more traditional lending institution or through the Small Business Administration (S.B.A.), then the time table of that lender will also play into the mix.
It depends on the motivation of the buyer.
It can be really difficult to make a huge decision like the decision to buy a business, especially because there is no such thing as the perfect business to buy. Many, many buyers (90%) enter the market and never buy anything, so looking at the average time it takes the full population of buyers to buy a business probably won’t be very helpful because for the vast majority of those buyers the time frame is forever. You can also be extremely motivated and the business you want just isn’t out there at the moment.
The point here is the length of time it takes you to find the right business and then reach a closing table isn’t as important as focusing on making sure the business you end up with fits your goals. It also isn’t as important as staying motivated and patient with the process. If owning a business really is in your future, you will be able to meet your goal.
Have more questions about the process to buy a business? Are you curious about what types of businesses are currently on the market? Use our Business Search tool by clicking here! Otherwise, feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.
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