Messy Financials – Why They Shouldn’t Scare Buyers And Should Motivate Sellers


Owning a business is a lot of work. Day to day operations, issues that need to be resolved – it can be hard to keep up with everything. This usually means that keeping your financial records in order slides to the end of the list. It’s tedious, annoying, time consuming and sometimes feels like it can wait in the box under your desk in favor of something more pressing. 


This procrastination can become a problem, however, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell your business. How can you prove to prospective buyers that the business is worth what you say it is if your records are a jumbled mess? 


What about on the other side of the table? If you’re a business buyer you might have noticed that the financials you seem to see from small businesses can barely be called “financials” at all. A copy of a P&L that’s been faxed too many times, some scant numbers that seem to be derived from thin air – it can be hard to parse out how a business is actually doing. 


Does poor record keeping always mean a business isn’t doing well? Absolutely not. What it does mean is a seller is leaving money on the table and a buyer has room to negotiate.


If you are considering selling your business, or if you aren’t planning on selling now (but you will be selling in the future) the time to straighten out your books is NOW. Pull out that box from under the desk and start working through it whenever you have a chance, or hire someone who can do that for you. Your business can only look its best on paper if your papers are in order. A business with clear, concise records can easily prove the value that you’re asking for. It also shows prospective buyers that you’ve been an organized owner, which translates to more faith in the business.


If you’re looking at businesses to buy don’t immediately pass over a business with messy books. Think of a business like this like a house with good bones that needs a little work. If that work has to come from you after you buy it – guess what? You can negotiate for a better price. Notice we said “good bones” – not all businesses that have issues keeping their records in order are in great shape otherwise. Seek the advice of your business broker and/or a business transaction CPA to figure out if this business is worth negotiating for.


The message here is that big box of jumbled records is fairly common in the small business world. If you’re a seller, get those records in order. If you’re a buyer, look for those opportunities to get a great deal.


Do you have questions about how to make your business look top notch to buyers? Would you like to know more about how to interpret messy records? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot





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Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242

Michael Monnot


9040 Town Center Parkway
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202


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