Selling On Your Own? Prepare For Disaster

You are an accomplished business owner, it’s just that the time has come to move on to the next chapter of your life – so you’ve decided to sell.


Why pay a business broker a commission to do something as simple as sell your business, right?


Well, you can try – but it’s probably going to end as an unmitigated disaster. A disaster that could spell the death of your business, forcing you to lock the doors and walk away with nothing. Here’s why:



In order to sell your business, you need to find a buyer. In order to find that buyer, you need to get the word out that you’d like to sell. So you snap a few pictures of the front of your store, clearly showing the address and post the listing for your business online. You might even go as far as to put a “for sale” sign up. The consequences of this marketing campaign? Your staff immediately knows you are looking to sell, and mistakenly assumes that it means the business is in deep financial trouble. Your entire staff quits, en masse, looking for more stable work – taking all of their regular customers with them. Your customers see your “for sale” sign and make the same assumption that your staff did – that you’re in trouble. They see the demise of your business as inevitable and so they take their business somewhere with a future.


If you manage to find a buyer without your staff and customers finding out – say a word-of-mouth, friend-of-a-friend kind of thing, you might think you’re out of the woods. This buyer seems great, so you start divulging all kinds of proprietary information because you believe they will be taking the helm in the near future. It turns out, however, that this buyer doesn’t have the cash they initially led you to believe they had, and they want you to seller finance an enormous part of the purchase price. Worse yet, you find out they are the brother-in-law of your biggest competitor, and because you never realized you should have asked them to sign non-disclosure agreements you have no legal recourse when they take your “secret sauce” to your competition.


Ok, so you’ve managed to avoid the blunders we’ve discussed so far. You have a buyer who doesn’t work for your competition and your staff is still in the dark. You’ve never written up a contract for a business sale, but you’ve written up contracts for other things so it should be easy, right? Your plan post-sale was to set up another shop that sells something different – but in the same area because this is where you and your family live. Unbeknownst to you, you misunderstood a non-compete clause and just signed a purchase contract that means you can’t open your new shop within 100 miles of where you currently live.


Selling your business doesn’t have to be a disaster or a nightmare. You may not want to pay someone for their help, but you have to think about the cost of a commission this way. Even if you don’t end up in one of the horrible situations we’ve discussed here, selling a business is a full time job. That’s why an entire industry of professional business brokers exists. You need to be paying attention to your business in the very critical time when your current numbers mean getting the most from the sale. You don’t want your business to be suffering when buyers are looking – the amount of money you stand to lose could be enormous. Get the right help.


A qualified and experienced business broker knows how to confidentially market your business so your staff and customers stay in the dark. They know how to spot unqualified buyers and make everyone signs the appropriate non-disclosure forms so you and your business are protected. They’ve helped write hundreds of purchase contracts, and they know when something isn’t right. They’re your buffer during negotiations and your sounding board to help with the decisions you need to make. And if you’ve ever tried to sell a business without one, you know they’re worth their weight in gold.


Get the most from your business sale without your business or your sanity falling apart. Hire the right help.


Are you thinking about selling your business and now think it might not be a good idea to go it alone? Do you have more questions about what business brokers bring to the table? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

Helping Your Sale By Selling Your Business – And You

You’ve completed all of the steps. You found a good business broker, prepared your last few years of tax returns and recent P&L statements. Now what? Sit back and watch the magic happen?


Well, sort of. Your business broker is going to find buyers who will initially be interested based on the preliminary documents you’ve provided – but what many business sellers fail to consider is buyers will be looking at the current owner of the business as a bellwether of their future at the helm.


That buyer sitting across the negotiating table from you is considering buying your life, so it is critically important that you get a positive message across.


What do we mean by that?



Remember that first impressions really matter. If you show up for your first meeting with a potential buyer 20 minutes late and with a disorganized stack of papers jammed in a briefcase – thought number one on their minds will be how big of a disaster the rest of the business is if this is the first impression you are willing to make. You need to act as though this was a first date, of sorts. You need to be on time because it speaks volumes about how you respect other people’s time. You need to be organized because that shows you are organized in all aspects of your business.


Remember that a bad attitude can absolutely sink a perfectly good sale. Even if you have solid numbers, you behaving like a jerk will only tell buyers that you don’t care enough about your business to put personal issues aside. A seller with a terrible attitude or a seller who acts like time spent with a buyer is a waste of their energy will be hard pressed to get to a closing table. You don’t have to like a buyer, but you do need to keep your attitude in check to show you are business-minded enough to keep personal feelings out of your professional life.


Remember that great, prompt answers to questions are important. A buyer is about to write you an enormous check that is going to completely change their life. You would have a lot of questions too. Sellers who are slow or unwilling to answer buyer questions give the appearance that they’ve got something to hide or that they just don’t care. Don’t be apathetic with questions. Instead, show the buyer that they’ve got nothing to worry about by being forthcoming with the information they need.


Selling your business is a stressful endeavor. Don’t allow that stress to get the better of you – it can hurt a buyer’s impression of you and can kill any chance of a sale. Keep in mind that you are not only selling your business – you are selling you.


Are you considering selling your business and want to know more about how to make a good impression for buyers? Do you want to know what businesses like yours have recently sold for? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


How To Turn The Disadvantages Of A Startup Into Entrepreneurial Success

We all want to start the next Apple, right? Anyone with entrepreneurial dreams envisions the startup in the garage that grows to epic success – but where these daydreams fail is where they break with reality.


Startups are really, really tough. You are fighting against highly stacked odds, jumping into a market with an unproven concept that will take far more money to get to the black than you think. You won’t have a customer base, you will be starting from ground zero with an unproven marketing plan, you will have to vet and train a brand new staff and you will be doing all of this without any cash flow.


You can, however, approach business ownership in a slightly different way, while still meeting your goals for entrepreneurship. How? Buy an existing business.



Why? Existing businesses can take some of the disadvantages of a startup off the table. Here’s how:


Existing businesses come with a customer base.

When you buy a functioning business you get the clientele as well. Contracts with customers, the regulars at the bar – they typically come with the deal. The best way to keep those customers is to avoid making any changes until you understand why those customers are there. Rate hikes on contracts and getting rid of karaoke night might seem like good ideas on paper – but they will push out the all-important customer base you inherited.


Existing businesses typically come with a marketing plan and name recognition.

One of the major challenges of starting a new business is getting the word out about who you are and what you do. An already existing business has jumped that hurdle – your job now is to push for more growth by constantly developing and improving your marketing plan.


Existing businesses have a staff in place.

A brand new business can be extraordinarily tough because there isn’t a veteran staff to show everyone the ropes. With an existing business a fully-trained staff is already in place. A caveat here – just like the advice for your customer base, major staffing changes right out of the gate will likely hurt more than they help. Take some time to understand what everyone does and how their presence helps the business before cleaning house.


Existing businesses have cash flow.

It can take months before a startup gets to a point where the cash flow is enough to cover expenses. An existing business exists because this need for cash flow has already been met. Be careful, however, not to overextend your expenses with too many changes or improvements before you fully understand where that cash flow is coming from.


The message here is while your garage-business daydream might be fun, an existing business can get you there without having to contend with the pitfalls of startup-hood.


Have you always wanted to own your own business but didn’t know you could buy one? Do you have questions about the differences in risk between startups and existing businesses? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

Keeping Your Cool – A Business Seller’s Guide To Letting Go

Yes, we know. Your business is your baby, your all-encompassing life. But you are ready for the next step – retirement, moving to another industry or selling to focus on something else.


In order to move on you have to give someone else the reins. You have to let go of the control you’ve had as the owner of your business – and let’s face it, that’s incredibly tough.




You have to be a bit of a control freak to be a successful business owner. It’s the kind of mindset that keeps you driven and keeps your business from falling apart. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and working late into the night.


When the time comes to walk away, however, that strength of personality becomes a problem. You see, the person who is buying your business has the same entrepreneurial personality you do. They’ll be driven and determined, and you probably aren’t going to like them very much.



The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” comes to mind, right?


This clashing of personalities can, and has, derailed perfectly good deals.


As a seller you are going to have to get along with along with your replacement from the first conference call all the way through to the end of a probably weeks-long training period. That length of time can be agonizing if you aren’t particularly fond of the buyer – so how do you survive?


Keep your eye on the prize.


You aren’t selling your business on a whim. You need the money to fund your long-awaited retirement, to fund your next business venture, to help the family member you’re leaving entrepreneurship to care for. It can be tough to keep your emotions in check, but you need to stay focused on the fact that the selling of your business is a purely financial transaction.


Remember it’s not your business anymore.


A new owner is absolutely going to make changes – it’s inevitable. The sooner you come to grips with that fact the better, because they might start making those changes right in front of you before the training period is even complete. Just remember that you wouldn’t want someone telling you how to run your business, so don’t be the person who does that to the buyer.


Remember that just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they won’t be a good business owner.


No two successful entrepreneurs are exactly the same – so the style, values and qualities of the new owner are probably going to be vastly different than your own. Your general dislike of a buyer because they were a complete pain during negotiations or because you hate the way they present themselves doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be able to continue the legacy of the business you built.


Don’t derail your deal. If you aren’t fond of the person who is buying your business, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to feel that way. You only need to interact with them until the training period is complete – then it’s on to the next phase of your life with the proceeds of your sale. Take a deep breath, you can get there.


Are you thinking about selling your business but are worried about having to hand over the keys? Have you had a horrible buyer experience you’d like to share? Please leave any comments or questions, we’d be happy to help.


Michael Monnot

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

Buying Or Selling A Business? The Right Help Makes All The Difference

Looking for a business to buy or thinking about selling the business you currently own? Either side of a business transaction is a tough and complicated road – and definitely one you shouldn’t travel alone.



So, who can help me with business transactions? Business brokers can.


A business broker is a professional who helps people buy and sell businesses. They are well versed in the transaction process, and know all of the potential pitfalls so you can avoid them.


Few people outside of the business transaction world truly understand what business brokers are and what they do – so here are the answers to some common questions about our industry:


What do business brokers do?

If you are a buyer a broker can help you search for businesses to buy, help you narrow down your choices, help you put together an offer, help you negotiate a purchase contract, help you with any necessary licensing and permitting and help you work with the seller as they show you the ropes.


If you are a seller a broker can help you prepare your business for sale, help you come up with an appropriate listing price, confidentially market your business, vet potential buyers and get non-disclosure agreements signed, show your business to potential buyers, help with negotiating a purchase contract, help you with the closing process and help you find your next business venture after you sell.


How are business brokers licensed?

Business brokers are typically licensed by their state’s real estate division, but what they do isn’t real estate. To put it simply state licensing divisions can’t possibly have a separate license for every applicable industry, so in some cases a profession is lumped in with an industry that is similar. That is the case with business brokers. They typically hold a real estate license or a real estate broker’s license.


Who is, and isn’t, a business broker?

The buying a selling of businesses and the buying and selling of property or homes are two completely different animals. Property and homes are sold by broadcasting the availability of the property/home to everyone, everywhere. Businesses, on the other hand, need to be sold confidentially – so the approach is completely different. Listings for businesses are extremely vague, and only after the signing of non-disclosure agreements will the name and location of a business for sale be divulged. It is this vastly different approach of sales techniques that makes it critical for business buyers and sellers to work with experienced and qualified business brokers and not real estate agents trying their hand at selling businesses.


Many professionals outside of the business transaction industry make ill-fated attempts to dabble in the buying and selling of businesses on the side. While unqualified real estate agents are the typical offenders – we’ve seen dentists, lawyers, accountants and the like they their hand and fail. The business transaction process is complicated, and to be successful you need to know what you are doing. Part-time business brokers aren’t business brokers, so avoid them. If your good friend or brother-in-law is a real estate agent who thinks they can successfully help you buy or sell a business, they can – by referring you to the appropriate professional. All your real estate agent needs to do is refer you to a qualified business broker, and when your transaction closes your real estate agent gets a referral fee for doing nothing more than making a phone call – and you get the right help.


Who does a business broker represent?

While your business broker is your advocate during the transaction process, they don’t technically represent one side or the other. They are transaction brokers, and therefore represent the transaction itself. For this reason it is possible in many states for a business broker to work for both the buyer and seller’s side.


How does a business broker get paid?

Business brokers make their money by earning a commission when a transaction closes, paid for by the seller’s proceeds of a sale. This is why buyers who spend years searching for businesses without ever taking any serious steps toward buying one (like making an offer) might have trouble getting an experienced broker’s attention. Serious buyers and serious sellers are easily distinguished from those who are just kicking tires.


How can I find a good business broker?

Finding a good broker can be a bit of a challenge, but there are some obvious signs that can distinguish the good from the bad. Great brokers get the vast majority of their business from referrals – from past buyers and sellers who were impressed with their work, from colleagues in other industries who’ve referred friends and family to great success – so ask a potential broker how much of their business comes from this good-review-based source. Good brokers also respond to calls and emails in a realistically timely fashion, have lots of connections within the industry and have some practical experience under their belt.


The message here is the road to buying or selling a business is best traveled with the right help – so finding an experienced and qualified business broker should be your first step!


Are you thinking about buying or selling a business and want to know more about what business brokers do? Do you have more questions about the transaction process? Ask us! Feel free to leave comments or questions and we would be happy to help!




Michael Monnot

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



Great Questions: What Business Buyers Should Be Asking

If you are beginning the process of buying a business, then conversations with business sellers will definitely be in your future.


You can find lists of questions to ask in many places, and although these traditional questions like “how much is the lease?” or “why are you selling?” are very important, there are some less-traditional questions that can be equally important to ask.


Why ask questions of the seller at all? Couldn’t they just be telling me what I want to hear? Isn’t it a better idea to let the numbers speak for themselves?


Yes and no. The hard facts, like the numbers in the books, like the contracts and client agreements – these can tell you much of what you need to know about a business and can bring forth facts that will be instrumental in your decision to buy or not to buy.


Buyers who don’t ask questions of sellers, however, are missing out on very important information. The person who is selling has lived and breathed this business for some time, and their experience, the reasons they’ve made the decisions they’ve made – this information can speak volumes to a buyer.


Why? It gives you a unique behind-the-scenes perspective you can’t see in black-and-white numbers on paper.


What kinds of non-traditional questions should you ask? Here’s three:


What parts of the business keep you up at night?


This one is important because the answer gives two very important insights. One, it shows any problems that might not be readily apparent in the books and two, it will give a buyer a chance to see what might need to be addressed early on in their ownership. 


If you could start over from scratch, what would you do differently?


This question also gives two insights. First, like the previous question this one will highlight any issues with the business. The seller will probably express that they would make changes to avoid the problems they currently face. Second, it will give a buyer fantastic advice as to the changes they could make right out of the gate to help the business grow in the future.


What are you going to do if the business doesn’t sell?


If a seller answers “close the doors and walk away”, then a buyer needs to take a closer look at why the current owners would be willing to give the business up. Is it because of a personal issue that they must attend to like moving to another state to care for family? Is it because of a health issue that would preclude the seller from performing their daily duties? Is it because the business is teetering on bankruptcy?


On the other hand, a more positive answer to the “what if it doesn’t sell?” question like “keep the business running and growing until I find the right buyer” says a lot about the health of the business and the current owner’s faith in the future of the business.


Asking these non-traditional questions and even coming up with a few of your own will be very helpful in determining whether or not a business you are considering is right for you.They also make it possible to see past the black and white numbers to see what life has been like for the seller (and what life will be like for you should you buy). Ask great questions and you will have a far better chance of finding the right business for you!


Have you started looking at businesses and have more questions about the kinds of things you should ask? Do you need help figuring out what questions to ask for a particular business? Ask us! Please feel free to leave comments or questions here and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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



Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242

Michael Monnot


9040 Town Center Parkway
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202


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