Answering personal questions can be tough. No one likes telling strangers where they live or how much money they have – but if you’re going to buy a business know that these uncomfortable questions are coming.
Why? They are critical to your success.
When you first interact with a qualified and experienced business broker they will ask you questions like these, and if you really want to buy a business you need to be upfront and honest with your answers. The bright side? Giving up some information about yourself only helps your broker help you.
Why do you need to know where I live?
Business sales happen under a veil of confidentiality. This secrecy is important for a number of reasons. There is a powerful misconception that a business for sale is a business on the brink of failure. Although the failure scenario is rarely the case, this misconception can cause catastrophic losses for a business (an entire staff can panic and quit en masse or important clients can cancel contracts). Businesses often have proprietary information or financially sensitive information that will need to be disclosed to a potential buyer during the transaction process, in addition to exposing the for-sale status of their business, so a business seller is putting a lot on the line. To be allowed access to such important information you as a buyer must sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). When you sign the NDA for a particular business listing you are asked for your legal name and physical home address. This information is used to verify who you are and to identify you as an individual. There might be ten Matt Smiths in a town, but only one Matt Smith lives at his unique home address. When you consider the gravity of the information that is being exchanged, what you give on the NDA is paltry in comparison with what a seller risks by giving you access to their business.
Why do you need to know how much money I have?
We aren’t asking how much money you have in your bank account. We’re asking how much money you currently have to invest when you purchase a business. If you can’t afford a $500,000 business then it’s a colossal waste of your time (and everyone else’s) to look at $500,000 businesses. We also need to know if you are looking to pay all cash up front for a business or if you are looking for financing options. What we do with the information you provide is find businesses that you can successfully afford and/or financing options you would be able to qualify for. Your honest disclosure of the capital you are working with only helps find the right options for you. You are also going to have to prove to your future commercial landlord that you have enough funds to cover your lease expenses. If you’re going to buy a business you are going to have to get comfortable talking honestly about how much money you have available.
The message here is although you might not want to give up information about yourself a business broker isn’t doing their job if they don’t ask these questions. Giving up potentially damaging information to the wrong person could hurt a business that would have been perfect for you. Showing you businesses you could never successfully afford is a waste of your time and energy. Be upfront, be honest and be willing to help your broker help you.
Do you have more questions about what information is required for the NDA? Would you like to know what businesses fit with the funds you have available? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.