Buying A Business? Why A Terrible Business Seller Isn’t A Bad Thing

If you’re new to the process of buying a business, you might wonder why business brokers exist. Can’t reasonable buyers and sellers get together and get a transaction all the way to the closing table?


The reality of the business game is there is very little chance of success when buyers and sellers go it alone. Why? Buyers and sellers don’t buy and sell businesses for a living.


If you are in the market for a business, then the person you most want sitting across from you at the closing table isn’t a seller at all. You want a business owner instead.


A business owner is someone who cares about the business they are selling. Their top priority isn’t how fast they can get out the door – it’s their bottom line. A business owner is focused on growth and getting the most money possible for their successful small business.



A business seller, on the other hand, is a temporary title. It involves gathering and assembling documentation and information about the business, being available to answer questions or requests and negotiation skills.


Someone who is a successful small business owner will not necessarily make a great and/or cooperative seller because selling isn’t their focus and it’s something they’ve never done before.


This is where the role of a business broker is critical and patience on your part as a buyer is a must. The person on the other side of the table isn’t a professional business seller, they are a professional business owner.


If it takes some time to have questions answered or get requested documents you shouldn’t be frustrated, you should be glad that they are focused on the running of the business you are about to buy. A business owner who doesn’t care about the day-to-day operation of their business could potentially be leaving you with a disaster the day you get handed the keys.


Your business broker is there to ensure the process goes smoothly, to keep the lines of communication open and apply the right amount of motivation to a seller so that they can both successfully run and sell their business. Have patience with the process – and with the business owner across the table. 


Are you considering buying a business but have more questions about how the process works? Would you like to know how long it typically takes to get to a closing table? Ask us! Please leave questions or comments here and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


Tips for Business Buyers: The Negotiation

If you are thinking about buying a business, then you probably already know that one major step on your path will be the negotiation of a purchase price and the negotiation of the purchase contract.



If you’ve ever been involved with the purchase of a house or a car, then you already know a little bit about how the negotiation phase is going to go. A buyer offers a price, the seller counters – and after a bit of back and forth the deal is done.


The major difference with business sales? There will be many, many more moving parts.


The best way to deal with these moving parts is to prepare yourself for the negotiation process:


Find and use a business broker


Buying a business is no small task. There are large amounts of money changing hands, a purchase contract that needs to be drafted and negotiated, licensing and permitting requirements that must be met, a new commercial lease that must be negotiated – the list goes on. A business buyer will be far better off with an experienced adviser by their side – and your broker also acts as an all-important buffer between you and the seller. Asking the wrong kind of question, asking too many questions, coming in too low with an offer – all of these things can offend a seller. By using an intermediary like a broker you can keep the deal moving while simultaneously keeping the other side of the negotiating table happy.


Make your offer realistic


You absolutely don’t want to overpay for your new business, and you want to keep as much of your cash as possible to ensure you have enough working capital the day you take over as owner – but that doesn’t mean you should insult the seller by offering a rock-bottom price. Unless the business is listed as an asset sale, don’t treat it like one. An operating business is so much more than the depreciated value of the equipment and inventory. You need to remember that to the seller this business is a huge deal. Most sellers are very emotionally attached to their businesses because the business has been an enormous part of their life. Low-balling a seller will almost assuredly offend them – some to the point where they will refuse to work with you. Make your initial offer fair and be able to justify that number when asked.


As a side note, if you are a buyer who is making an all-cash offer, you may be in a better spot to negotiate for a lower price than someone who is looking for seller financing to be a part of the deal. If you do need seller financing, consider the situation from the seller’s point of view. You probably wouldn’t give someone a big discount on the purchase price of your business if you were going to be taking a big risk and financing part of the deal.


Be 100% prepared for compromise


One last and very important point to make regarding negotiations – the final purchase price and purchase contract will be a compromise for both sides. Go into this process understanding the reality that you are not going to get everything that you want, no matter what side of the table you are on. Many deals have died because one side (or both) refused to budge over something tiny, like the value of a piece of equipment or the closing date. Stay calm, patient and willing to compromise if you want to have a chance of reaching the closing table.


Are you considering buying a business but have more questions about the negotiating process? Would you like to know what types of businesses are currently out there in your price range? Ask us! Please feel free to leave comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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



Why Offering Seller Financing In A Booming Economy Is A Good Idea


If you are considering selling your business, then you probably know what a complicated process it is can be.


The best way to successfully maneuver the path to a closing table is to be very flexible, and this flexibility is pivotal when considering whether or not you should offer seller financing.


Sure, the economy is currently booming. If you were trying to sell your business back mid-recession, then offering seller financing was an absolute must as traditional lending disappeared and most buyers didn’t come with fist fulls of cash.


Now there are more cash buyers in the market than there have been in recent years, which is terrific news – but if you limit your buyer pool to only those with all-cash offers, you won’t be doing yourself any favors.




Flexibility. Not every business is right for every buyer, so limiting your pool of buyers right out of the gate may keep you from selling your business quickly (if at all). This is especially true if you have a niche business that will have a hard time attracting a huge number of buyers anyway.


Also, a seller who demands an all-cash offer typically gets only 70% of their asking price in the end, while a seller who is open to the idea of seller financing gets somewhere in the mid to high 80’s. Do you really want to miss out on 15% or more?


Increasing your buyer pool by offering seller financing as an option also means you may have the opportunity to choose from multiple buyers and multiple creative offers – thereby creating a chance to get the best return on your business you possibly can.


Yes, we would all love full-price, all-cash offers that land on our desk the day our business hits the market, but in reality a flexible seller is a seller who will actually make it to a closing table.


Talk to your business broker about what amount of seller financing they think would be appropriate and what you are comfortable offering. Listen with an open mind to any offers that come in from buyers who are asking you to finance part of the deal. In the end, it is still up to you whether you take an offer or not – just keep your options open throughout the process.


Are you considering offering seller financing for your business and want to know that the terms of a typical deal look like? Do you have more questions about how much of a deal you should finance? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments and we will be happy to assist you.




Michael Monnot

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


The Toxic Myth Of The Perfect Business – How To Handle Messy Books

It is a very common complaint in the world of business sales. A buyer comes to the market with money in hand and ready to buy the right business – but every time they request financial documentation what they get is poorly assembled numbers, difficult to understand tax returns and no current financials of any kind.


Do they want to sell their business or not?


What you have to remember about the small business world is owning your own business is a tough and time-intensive enterprise. Small business owners are great at what they do, but most are not trained accountants. Many times record keeping and financial documentation fall down the priority list, and what a buyer is left with is what the seller was able put together in the short time the business has been listed.



When we take on a listing for a small business we often get handed nothing more than a big box of crumpled papers and register tapes – and have to figure out the numbers from there. This is not true of all small businesses, as some owners are better record keepers than others – but you have to remember that even a great business may not have the world’s most organized books.


It is also typically true that the larger the business is, the more likely it is that they have an accountant on payroll and therefore the more complete the records will be – but if you are in the market for a small business you probably don’t have the couple of million dollars you would need to buy one of these higher-priced and more-complete-records businesses.


What should I do then? How can I decide with seemingly incomplete records?


Have patience, and understand that you will never get perfectly organized books. What you will get is the opportunity to look at all of the financial records of a business once you have entered the due diligence phase. Your business broker will be there to help you, and if the books really are a mess then perhaps an accountant familiar with business transactions will be brought in.


What you can do as a buyer is use that not-so-pretty cursory information you get with your first requests – like P&L statements and tax returns – to weed out businesses that don’t suit you and focus a more thorough look on on the ones that do.


Are you in the market to buy a business, but are disappointed with the information you’ve been sent so far? Would you like to know more about how we as brokers turn that jumbled box of paperwork into use-able numbers? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here, we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


The Age Of Retail And Service Giants: How One Angry Customer Might Sink The Ship And Your Business Sale

Are you selling your business? Daydreaming about your new life after the sale? Thinking about life on a beach with a drink in your hand? Thinking about the future can be a great distraction, but if you own a small business in the retail or service sectors – you need to be careful about letting your focus slip.




We’ve all had that bad customer service experience. We’ve all skimmed past the 2 and 3 star businesses when reading reviews – preferring to give our business to someone with a 4 or 5.


We all know that one bad experience and one angry customer can create 10, 20, 100 more – particularly in the age of online reviews.     


We also live in the age of retail giants, and the threat they pose is real – particularly for smaller main-street businesses. There’s also a new trend of huge service-based companies moving into smaller markets. While these monsters swallow up huge chunks of what was previously small business territory you only have a few things those enormous companies don’t. The most important of those few things is local, loyal customers. 


Your local, loyal customer base is your bread and butter – and they are loyal because you are reliably good at serving their needs. They’ve never had a bad experience at your business. They tell their friends and coworkers to try you out. Then you decide to sell and take your foot off that all-important customer service pedal.


Losing your focus is never a good thing, but it can have potentially devastating consequences if your are in the midst of trying to sell. Buyers want to see all of your numbers, and if your numbers show a dramatic slide once the business went up for sale – it’s a sign of a huge problem. Buyers are also going to immediately look your business up online and read reviews. If your customer service has taken a turn for the worse you’d better believe those local and loyal regulars are going to be speaking out on review sites. No one want to take over a business that has been neglected to the point of faltering or a business that is hemorrhaging regular clientele. 


How do you keep this from happening? Stay the course you always have and focus on those regulars. Selling your business can take 9 to 12 months (or more) in most cases, so you need to act like you aren’t selling for that period. A year of neglect can do insurmountable damage to a business and to it’s reputation – so stay on the ball.


Are you thinking about selling and hadn’t considered how online reviews may impact your sale? Do you have advice for other business owners about how to stay the course through a sale? Would you like to know what businesses like yours are currently selling for? Leave any questions or comments here. We would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

Are Good Businesses For Sale? A Business Buyer Question


If you are considering a foray into small business ownership you may have a very common misconception – that any business that would be offered for sale must be a business on the brink of failure. This misconception probably comes from media portrayals of huge multi-million dollar mergers and acquisitions with the purpose of preventing bankruptcy or saving a major brand name. The truth is, however, that perfectly good businesses go on sale every day, from the small main-street shop to businesses that employ thousands of people. 


Think about home sales. A home that is listed on the market might be a tear-down, but for the vast majority of home listings the house is in great shape. The same goes for businesses.


If good businesses do go up for sale, why? Why would someone sell a great business?


Business owners decide to sell for a myriad of reasons. Many of these reasons are similar to reasons one might give for listing a house. Maybe the current owner is looking to get a financial return so they can retire. Maybe they are looking to move to another area. Perhaps they have some sort of family situation that is forcing them to sell – the point is not every business on the market is teetering on disaster.


Ok, so how do you tell if a business on the market is in good shape (or not)?


Do your homework and ask questions. When you inquire about a particular business you will be given access to cursory financial information. You can use that initial information along with general research (like the business website, reviews, social media accounts, etc.) to determine if you want to move ahead in the business purchase process. If you are very serious about a business then conversations with the current owner, site visits and the like would happen next. After your offer to the seller has been negotiated and accepted you will enter the due diligence phase, where you will be able to pour over everything and decide if the business is still right for you.


You will have ample time and opportunity to discover any issues the business has, and then you will have the choice to proceed or stop based on what you find. Even if a business isn’t in amazing shape, it could be a good buy because you could pay less up front and then work to turn the business around. This is typically the path a serial entrepreneur takes, buying a business in trouble and then growing it with the intention to sell once the business has met certain markers for success.


The point is that there are lots of good businesses out there, and your path to business ownership will give you all the information you need to make an informed choice about what you are buying.


Are you thinking about buying a business but have more questions about the process? Would you like to know what kinds of business ownership opportunities are currently available? You can click here to search, or leave us any questions or comments here.




Michael Monnot

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

Am I Buying The Building? Commercial Leases And Business Buyers

If you are new to the world of buying a business, then you likely have some basic questions that need to be answered before you really get rolling. One very common question we get from the curious future entrepreneur when discussing businesses to buy is:


Do I have to buy the building too?



The answer to this question is almost always no, as commercial leases are the norm in the small business world.


What do I need to know about commercial leases when I’m looking to buy a business?


First and foremost, you can’t simply look at the amount of rent the current owner pays and the length of time left on the current owner’s lease to understand the nuances of the commercial lease market. It is also very important to understand that while you as a new owner will get a new lease, the rent amount itself is unlikely to change in a major way (and if it does change it will probably go up, not down) – especially if the current lease has quite a bit of time left. The property owner already has someone who is committed to paying that rate for the remainder of the lease term, so they have no motivation to change the terms of the lease for a new owner.


Commercial lease rates depend on a large number of factors, but in general it will depend on where the business is located. In some parts of town you may be able to get a commercial lease at $8 per square foot, while in another part of town not far away the typical lease rate will be more like $40 per square foot. A property on a main street or in a plaza with a strong anchor business will fetch higher rent than a business somewhere off the beaten path. A location on the water will also have a higher rent rate.


If you are in the initial phases of searching for a business and think a particular rent rate looks ridiculous, don’t make a judgment on the business or the lease until after you have spoken to your business broker. They will be able to tell you if a lease rate is truly ridiculous, or (more likely) if a lease rate is in line with the current location of the business. It is also far more important to look at the cash flow of a business than to get hung up on the lease.


In terms of renegotiating the lease rate, it will depend on a number of factors – like the length of time left on the current lease and other factors (like location) that we’ve already discussed. In some business transactions there will be a little wiggle room on price – but for the most part a property owner is not going to cut a lease rate significantly for a new business owner.


While you won’t be able to cut the lease rate in half, you will more than likely get a chance to renegotiate other parts of the lease, like the length. For instance, if the current owner only has six months left on their commercial lease, you certainly can’t be expected to pay $100,000 for a business with no guarantee on the current location for anything more than that short amount of time. Your lease will likely be renegotiated for a much longer term, sometimes 5 or 10 years. Each situation and each property is different – so you will need the expertise of your business broker for this part of the renegotiation.


If you are new to the process of buying a business, don’t get hung up on seemingly high lease rates or on short lease terms. Your business broker is there to help you understand any lease and also to renegotiate a lease to best suit your interests as the new owner of a business.


Are you searching for businesses and have questions about why certain lease rates are so high? Do you want to know which areas typically have lower lease rates? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments 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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