You Can’t Sell “Might Be”: Prepping Your Business For A Better Return

Potential. It’s a powerful word. It gets thrown around in the business arena – but what does it really mean when you’re trying to sell your business?


Any business can have potential. Potential for growth. Like a small restaurant only open for lunch with a devoted local following who would love dinner hours as well. Potential for a new customer base. Like a pressure washing business that has never approached any large neighborhood communities with the hope of securing big accounts.



Here’s what potential isn’t. Potential isn’t worth a whole lot. You may love your business, and you may see the potential your business could have if you implemented some changes – but if you haven’t made those changes yet you can’t ask a buyer to pay a premium for something that MIGHT be. A buyer is only going to pay for what ALREADY IS.


Maybe you’ve been dragging your feet where marketing is concerned and haven’t been pushing for any new customers. You know you could land some new accounts, you just haven’t made the time. The only way to reap the benefits of that potential growth is to implement those changes yourself. An increase in customer base and rapidly growing cash flow are absolutely going to have value to a buyer. The potential for that future cash flow if you leave the work to the next owner? No value at all. No one is going to pay you a premium so they can do more work.


The message here is you can sell your business today, as is – or you can take the time to build the future of your business before you sell. Increasing numbers, increasing accounts, ramped-up marketing and new customers will make your business far more valuable in the eyes of a buyer than just the promise of potential down the road. Turn potential into cash by implementing those changes today.


Are you considering selling and are looking for some ideas on how to grow your business to get a better return? Does your business have potential but you don’t know how to turn that into action? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot


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How Close Is Close Enough? Thoughts For Business Sellers

When you first list your business one of the major points of discussion will be the delicate balance of where to set your listing price. Set the number too high and good buyers will pass your business by in favor of those more reasonably priced. Price it too low and you won’t be getting the best return on your investment.


You probably have a dream number in your head – an amount you’d love to get. Here’s the thing. That dream number may or may not be realistic – and isn’t something you should stick to come hell or high water. Instead, consider a threshold where you would still be comfortable making a deal – then add a bit to reach your full listing price. Businesses rarely sell for this full listing price, so the buffer between your threshold and the listing price is the sweet spot where negotiation can happen.



Ok, I’ve got a buyer and we’ve been negotiating for weeks. So far their offer is still below my threshold. Do I take the offer or walk away?


You can always walk away, but ask yourself these questions first:


One, is what they are offering unfair – or is it just not ideal? If you haven’t been able to reach a middle ground with your buyer, ask yourself “why aren’t they coming up?”  Is there something about your business that will be expensive to fix or overhaul the day they walk in the door? Are they worried about a customer who makes up a large percent of your bottom line leaving once the business changes hands? Are you asking for your inventory or equipment to be valued as new even though it’s a few years old? If you were the buyer – would what they’re offering make sense? If so, maybe you need to come down a bit instead of trying to force them to come up.


Second, is there a way to meet in the middle by making a creative deal? Could you offer seller financing? Is there a way to structure a deal that will hold back money in escrow based on certain markers over a period of time? Every small business deal is different, and it’s this individual nature that allows for creative purchase contracts to come together. If you and your buyer are really deadlocked on price, maybe there’s a creative way to reach a deal anyway.


Finally, are you willing to walk away and start over with a new buyer? Selling a business takes time. A lot of time. It also takes a huge amount of effort. If you’ve been negotiating with a buyer for weeks or months and there’s a gap between what you would want in an ideal world and what they are willing to offer – is it going to be worth it to you to start over? Unless the gap is huge – probably not. It can be difficult to end a negotiation by letting the other side “win”, but how many weeks or months will it take you to find another buyer? Will that new buyer be willing to offer you substantially more, or are they likely to come to a similar conclusion and offer something like your current buyer is? You should also think about your deal in terms of the difference in price. For example – is the difference $5,000 or $10,000 in a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Does it make sense to kill a deal for a relatively small difference in price? In most cases, the answer will probably be no.


Here’s where we’re going with this. How close is close enough? You might not be getting that ideal number in your head, or the offer might be under a threshold where you would love to be – but does it make sense to walk away for the difference? In a lot of cases you can bridge the gap with your buyer by using  a creative deal, or by looking at the offer objectively from a buyer’s point of view. 


Are you considering selling your business and have questions about what a fair listing price might be? Would you like to know more about creative deals we’ve put together in the past? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242





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Why Flexibility Is The Key To Selling Your Business

Wouldn’t we all love to put our business on the market and get a full-price, all-cash offer on day one?


As you can probably guess, this isn’t how business deals go in the real world. As a seller you need to be prepared for flexibility if you really want to end up at a closing table.



The first thing you need to be flexible with? Price. You may have a number in your head, a dream amount that would make all of the personal investment of time, energy and money into your business worth it in the end.


Unfortunately, a business is only really worth what someone is willing to pay for it – so your dream number is probably a far-fetched fantasy. When you first talk with your business broker, pricing will be a big part of the discussion. In order to have a successful sale, you need to price your business right from day one. Overpriced businesses will get overlooked by good buyers and languish on listing sites indefinitely.


How do you set an appropriate price?


The price you set needs to be based on what the current market will support, what comparable businesses have actually sold for recently and the cash flow the business currently generates. The original retail cost of your ten year old equipment, the amount of money you spent on cosmetic improvements last year, how much it cost you to buy the business 15 years ago – these things aren’t going to contribute to a realistic price. The key here is to listen to your broker about what a sell-able listing price would be.


The second thing you need to be flexible about is financing. The all-cash deal is extraordinarily rare, and the vast majority of small business sales involve at least a bit of seller financing. The good news is in most seller financing deals the buyer is putting up a substantial down payment, so you won’t be financing the entire purchase price. The other good news is there is no set or absolute way that a seller financed deal needs to look (like there would be with a more traditional loan from a major lending institution), so you can negotiate a creative deal that makes everyone happy.


By offering seller financing you will also be opening up your business listing to far more buyers than demanding a full-price all-cash offer would allow. Deals that include seller financing also show buyers that you have enough faith in the future of your business that you would be willing to depend on that future to get paid. 


Are you thinking about selling your business and are wondering what an appropriate listing price would be? Do you have questions about what kinds of creative seller financing deals we’ve put together in the past? Ask us! Feel free to leave any comments or questions here.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242




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Want To Sell Your Business? 3 Must-Haves

In a perfect world, every business seller would list their business and get an all cash, full price offer the next day.


In reality, this is rarely the case. Like, it never happens that way.


On average, it typically takes nine to twelve months to get a business from listed to sold.


As a seller, there are three very basic (but also very simple) things you can do to improve your chances of selling right out of the gate.



Offer Seller Financing 

Banks and other more traditional lending institutions have always been gun-shy about small business loans – and the 2008 recession didn’t help. There are always a lot of buyers who are looking for new business opportunities, but they typically don’t come with a lot of cash on hand. By offering to finance part of your purchase price, you will be able to attract many more buyers than you would otherwise. Worst case scenario if the new owners fail? You get to to keep the sizable down payment the buyers put up and you get the business back


Hire A Business Broker

You might be great at what you do, but what you do isn’t helping people buy and sell businesses. This is what business brokers do for a living. They know the business transaction process inside and out, they have access to buyers you could never find and they are experts in confidential business marketing. Going it alone won’t save you money. It will more than likely mean you either won’t be able to sell at all or will end up having to take far less for the business than if you had hired the right help.


List For A Realistic Price 

Your business is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. When deciding on a listing price many sellers try to set a price that will recoup all of the money they have invested over the years or use the value of new equipment when determining what their 10 year old stuff is worth. We get that you have invested a great deal of your time, money and energy in your business. You can absolutely get a good return on that investment, but you need to be realistic. Your business price should be based on your cash flow, what your equipment and inventory are actually worth and what the market will currently allow. Making a sensible and well-informed decision about listing price is key if you ever want to see a closing table


If you think you are ready to sell, go into the process with an open mind. Have realistic expectations, and use the experience of your business broker to help you set realistic goals for your transaction.


Do you have questions about how to price your business? Would you like to know what businesses like yours are currently selling for? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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Opportunity Is Knocking – Grow An Entrepreneur, Not Just A Business

It can be an excruciatingly tough decision. You’ve created a successful business and are generally happy with where it’s headed. You spend every waking hour working on growth and you are reaping the benefits of all that labor. Selling your business and an exit strategy are probably something you’ve considered down the line – but times are good so you’re definitely not going to sell now. Right?



Here’s the thing. Your business is currently successful. The economy is booming. You have solid numbers for the last few years. Your business is probably worth a lot right now. How much are you willing to bet that this upswing is going to last? If you wait too long to sell, then the answer could be everything.


No one knows how long the economy will boom, but we all know it can’t be forever. If we have another crash like the one in 2008, could your business survive? You and your family might currently be in good health, but that could change and pull your focus away from the business to the point where the business falters.


The calculation of how long to hang on to a business while the going is good can be tough, but here’s a few things in the tea leaves that might make you consider selling sooner rather than later.


The Baby Boomers are retiring in record numbers. A lot of these Boomers are small business owners and as such will be looking to sell  in the near future so they can retire. That means a glut of stable, long-term small businesses with good numbers will be hitting the market. All of these great businesses will be your competition, and too many businesses for sale will absolutely push prices down.


The economy is great, and there’s a rush of new construction happening everywhere – in both the residential and commercial sectors. Real estate prices are soaring. Sounds like life in 2006 and 2007, right?


So what’s a business owner to do? You may not want to sell because you are essentially selling yourself out of a job – but here’s another way to look at your business investment. You can only grow your current business so far, and if this article is resonating with you then you’re probably nearing or have already reached the peak. Selling and moving on to new ventures can grow you as an entrepreneur instead of just growing one business. Here’s another thought – if the economy does crash and you were able to sell before it happened, you will be uniquely positioned to invest in a new business venture when no one else has any capital and the prices for businesses are way down.


The tried and true notion of buy low, sell high absolutely rings true in the small business market. If you haven’t considered selling because everything seems great – maybe you should. Selling your business while it’s still worth a lot will give you choices and capital that you won’t have if you hang on through the wave of retiring Boomers and the next economic meltdown. Consider growing yourself as an entrepreneur and get on the path to sell today.


Are you a small business owner who hasn’t considered selling? Would you like to know what businesses like yours are currently getting in the market? Please 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



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A Lesson From Shark Tank: You’d Better Know Your Numbers

If you’ve seen the show Shark Tank, then you know the typical drill. An entrepreneur knows their concept inside and out, but can’t get an investment from the Sharks because they can’t answer basic financial questions. Guess what? This happens in the small business market too.


If you take a step out of your business seller’s mindset and take a look at what buyers see in the market, you might be shocked.


Most listings for businesses for sale contain sketchy financial information at best, and if they contain any semblance of numbers at all they typically don’t make sense and don’t jive with the price the sellers are asking.



Where do these discrepancies come from?

While in a few cases the discrepancies come from good old fashioned dishonesty, for the most part the lack of consensus in numbers occurs because the seller simply doesn’t know. Small business owners are great at what they do, but in some cases they are not great at accounting or organizing their financial information.

We come across business owners more often than we should who can’t answer questions like “which product or service is the most profitable?” or “what is the cost to acquire a new client?”. If you are considering selling at any time in the near future, then you need to make the effort to get a handle on your financials long before you are being asked to justify a price.

What things should I be looking at?

Profitability of Products or Services

Many business owners who haven’t broken down the numbers may just assume that the most expensive item or service that they offer is the most profitable – but this is probably not the case. By tracking your products and services individually and then comparing them to the breakdown of what it costs you to provide that product or service, you may discover that your bread and butter comes from a low price item or service that you sell more than anything else. If not just for selling your business, this breakdown will also be immensely helpful when deciding where to put your marketing efforts.


Small business owners are famous for paying for expenses out of pocket and never writing it down, or for jamming receipts for expenses in a box under the desk and never looking at them again. When selling your business, you may even think that disguising some of your expenses will make the business look more appealing and more profitable to buyers. This isn’t the case. First of all, there are a few expenses that will get added back before you set a listing price. Second, a business with very low expenses will look suspect to a discerning buyer. Really nailing down your expenses will not only help with selling your business, it will likely allow you to see where your money is going and give you an opportunity to streamline those expenses.

Don’t be a Shark Tank cautionary tale. If you are looking to sell, you need to get your financial ducks in a row, if not for buyers but for your own use to strengthen your numbers, focus your marketing efforts and streamline your expenses. Having a good handle on where your business is and where it needs to be will be instrumental in the negotiation process of your business sale. Strong and organized documentation of all of your financial information will also be very helpful in attracting buyers who are accustomed to the sketchy financials that are typical in the business scene.


Are you thinking about selling but are guilty of shoving receipts in a box? Do you have absolutely no clue what it costs you to aquire a new client and want help getting your ducks in a row before listing your business? Please feel free to leave questions or comments here!




Michael Monnot

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




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Don’t Get Hung Up On The Comps – Why Your Business And It’s Listing Price Are Unique

It can be really tough to figure out what a business is worth.


Some sellers expect to get back every nickel they ever put into the business. Some want to base their listing price on industry multiples. Some business brokers will even tell you they have a “proprietary metric” that will tell you the best listing price. There are a litany of ways you can arrive at a number, but one of the most common is by using comps.



What is a comp? If you’ve ever bought or sold real estate then you’ve probably heard the term. It’s short for comparable, meaning you create a price based on what something similar recently sold for. Seems simple, right?


In the housing market, pricing based on comps makes a lot of sense. Houses that are similar and in similar neighborhoods are going to be worth roughly the same amount.


The same can not be said for businesses, however. Comps can be very useful when trying to determine a ball-park figure, but they break down once you get down to the details simply because businesses are inherently very complex.


Here’s an example to illustrate what we mean:

The seller of a large cafe wants to list his place for the same price a similar-sized high-end seafood restaurant down the street sold for. The problem comes when you look deeper. The cafe seller is making roughly what the seafood restaurant was, but he’s got a big chunk of unpaid tax debt to deal with, all of his kitchen equipment needs to be replaced and he’s the head chef so any buyer will have to factor in the salary of a replacement chef. Basing a listing price on the comps for square footage and gross sales wouldn’t work in this situation because the businesses are very different beyond those two very narrow metrics. 


Does this mean you should ignore comps when determining your listing price? No, absolutely not. They are a very useful tool when used realistically and in conjunction with the metrics that make the most sense for your business.


If you are curious about what businesses comparable to yours have recently sold for, talk to a business broker. They can tell you what the market looks like for businesses in your industry and can help you look at your business as a whole to determine the best listing price.


Are you considering selling your business and want more information about businesses like yours that have recently sold? Would you like to know more about the listing process? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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Big Price? Big Mistake – Selling Your Business


It can be really difficult to see a business that you have built from the ground up objectively, but there is a crucial decision that you will need to make as a business owner that will need to made without any emotion – pricing your business.


New businesses come on the market every day that are priced ridiculously high. They might be great businesses, but most of the time a business that has an over-inflated price will get no traction on the market and will stay listed forever.


When a business first hits the market it can create a lot of action from buyers, but those buyers can be permanently driven away if the price is completely insane.


So why do people list their businesses too high?


Usually one of two things has happened:


They got some bad advice. There are great professionals like business brokers and business transaction accountants that can help a business owner price their business correctly right out of the gate. There are, on the other hand, lots of people who know little to nothing about the buying and selling of businesses who give terrible pricing advice. Your brother-in-law who sold his bar in 1986, the CPA who does your taxes, your attorney neighbor who practices labor law – while well intentioned, none of these people know anything about the business market or about what a business like yours could actually sell for. Seek the advice of a qualified business broker who will know how to price your business the right way – to sell.


They wouldn’t listen. Even though you have put all of your blood, sweat and tears into your business, a buyer is only interested in numbers you can prove. Your business broker will help you use comparable businesses that have already sold, the numbers you have on the books and other pricing qualifiers to help you set your asking price realistically. Pricing only becomes an issue if you as the seller refuse to listen to the advice. A good broker will not let you demand any price you want, they will refuse the listing if you decide that it is your unrealistically high price or “the highway”. Be very wary of a broker who will let you list your business for whatever you demand – you will end up staying on the market indefinitely.


The message here? Seek proper advice and then listen to that advice. Successful business sellers go into the selling process with realistic expectations and with the right help.


Are you a business seller who made the mistake of pricing your business too high? Have you asked for advice on setting the price but got an answer you didn’t agree with? Please feel free to leave us a question or comment here, and we will be happy to help you with finding the right price for your business.




Michael Monnot

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

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How Does A Business Seller Get Top Dollar? It’s All In The Books

Unless you own an accounting firm, it’s likely that the record keeping and accounting parts of your business aren’t necessarily your daily top priority. You have a business to operate, employees to manage, inventory to sell.



However, if you are thinking about selling your business in the future – those record keeping and accounting skills will be paramount in getting you the biggest bang for your business investment.


How? Think about this point from a buyer’s perspective.


You are looking at two nearly identical businesses. They are in the same industry, in similar markets and locations and they generate the same amount of cash flow. The first business has immaculate records that stretch all the way back to the day they opened the doors – tax returns, P&L statements, inventory records, payroll records, the list goes on. When you as a buyer request records for this first business, they are already complete and organized and are handed over almost immediately.


For the second business, a request during due diligence for records gets you a poorly copied set of two years of tax returns and a box of receipts.


Remembering that these businesses are essentially the same in terms of cash flow, which one are you going to be willing to buy and which one will you pay more money for? The first business, right?


Why? You know what you’re getting. The history of the business, the current numbers, the contracts and leases – everything is right there for you to look at. There’s no guessing or lack of transparency. It’s all there on paper in black and white.


If this scenario has you instantly picturing the dusty box of receipts shoved under your desk – all is not lost. Getting your books in order may be challenging, but the return on investment of time will likely be substantial. You want buyers to be looking at how well your business is doing, not wondering how someone so disorganized keeps the doors open.


If you need help, help is available. Your business broker can guide you and refer you to a CPA who specializes in making records useful during a business transaction. All you need to do is ask and be upfront about the condition your records are actually in.


Are you panicking about the box of disaster under your desk? Would you like to know what types of records business buyers are going to want to see? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


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Business Sellers – You Don’t Have The Best Business Ever



We all do it. We all think our kids are the smartest or the cutest. We all think we’re the best drivers on the road. An arrogantly positive view of yourself and your life are just part of human nature.


This arrogance becomes a big problem, however, when the time comes to sell your business. Why? Whether you realize it or not – you don’t have the best business ever.  If you really want to sell your business, you will have to consider this reality.


Your business is a huge part of your life. It’s what you do everyday. It’s where you put all of your blood, sweat and tears. You’ve built it and grown it to where it is today, and you likely remember every step and the purchase of every stick of furniture.


Selling your business means you have to take that deep emotional attachment to your business and put it aside so you can make some very rational decisions. Decisions like how much to list the business for. Like whether or not to accept a decent, but not ideal, offer from a buyer. These decisions can be really tough when your heart is still firmly attached to your business baby.


Step one of dealing with this part of selling your business is to realize that it’s coming and that your business is only perfect because it’s yours. Mentally preparing yourself will be crucial to maintaining your rationality during the entire selling process. Here are a few things you should consider:


  • Buyers are going to offer less for the business than you think it’s worth and they are going to find things about your business they consider problems.
  • You aren’t going to get back every penny you’ve ever invested.
  • You are going to have to hand the keys to someone else and walk away.
  • You are going to have to relinquish all control.
  • The next person might change everything.
  • The next person might fire all of your staff.
  • The business will no longer be yours.


If merely reading those last few sentences was excruciating for you as a future business seller, it is really important to keep a few things in mind:


  • Negotiations are part of the deal. Low offers are starting points for a conversation, not a personal slap in the face. Buyers will use any issues with the business as leverage during a negotiation, but you would too, if you were in their shoes.
  • You are going to have to be realistic about your listing price. Your reward for maintaining a realistic outlook on price? Your business will be better poised to sell in a competitive market.
  • Handing the keys to a new owner is not a one-sided transaction. They get the keys and you get a very big check that you can use to start a whole new and exciting chapter of your life.  
  • Relinquishing control is a good thing because it means you relinquish all of the stress too. The business might no longer belong to you, but the stuff that currently keeps you up at night is now someone else’s problem.
  • The next person might change everything and fire all of your staff, but more than likely then won’t. They bought a functioning business, it would be foolish to fix what isn’t broken.


The point here is it is very important to take a step back from your emotional attachment and rose colored glasses if you want to be a successful business seller. Your business isn’t perfect and isn’t worth 10 times what you should be asking. Negotiations are going to happen. Mentally preparing yourself ahead of time will help immensely for the road ahead.


Are you someone who has considered selling your business, but think you might have problems with letting go? Would you like to know what businesses like yours are currently selling for? Ask us! Please feel free to leave questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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Michael Monnot


9040 Town Center Parkway
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202


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