Business Debt? Why You Should Consider Paying It Off

Debt happens, especially in the day to day operation of a small business.


You might owe money to your vendors, you might owe your landlord – small business debt comes in many forms. Here’s the thing:


While most of the time debt is a perfectly acceptable thing to have on the books – the perception of that debt by buyers might hurt your chances of selling.


Why? New business buyers will probably be freaked out by debt. They just will. They don’t yet understand how debt is used to run a business, and they will also be looking at businesses other than yours who have no debt at all.


While it may not be possible to completely eliminate your business debt, if you are considering selling sometime soon you might want to consider paying down as much of it as possible. It will add money back into your books – money you can leverage for a higher sale price.


Another reason to pay off the debt before you try to sell? A buyer might insist you pay off the debt with the proceeds of your sale, so leaving it on the books will only decrease the amount you walk away with.


The message here is while it may leave you a bit strapped on the cash front, paying off any business debt before you list on the market will make your business more appealing to buyers and will help you negotiate for more money at the closing table.


Having to live a bit cash-strapped may also help you tighten up your budget by streamlining your spending. It can motivate you to implement your ideas for growth that bring more cash in the door – all things that will make your business stand out from others on the market.


Are you considering selling your business but have more debt on your books than you’d like? Would you like to know how a deal that involves debt might be structured? 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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Selling Your Business? How Eye Rolling And “Obvious Solutions” Can Kill Your Deal


It can be really, really annoying when you sit across from a business buyer who thinks they know everything.


They have the fresh-faced optimism of someone new to the world of entrepreneurship – an optimism you once had until the grinding reality of business ownership taught you what it’s really like. Owning a business is tough, and growing that business is even tougher. You’ve spent years trying and failing (and trying again) to get your business to where it is today – and now that business is under the scrutiny of someone who knows little to nothing about it.


Most buyers are going to look at your business and see things that they feel are obvious solutions – to growth, to staffing issues, to costs – but for you those “obvious solutions” are non-starters because you’ve already tried them or because the nuances of your business would make them impossible. 


Here’s the thing – buyers are probably going to ask you why you haven’t implemented their “obvious solutions“. It’s going to be very, very annoying when they do. Your job in that moment is to resist the urge to roll your eyes or groan. Don’t be short or snarky either. Blowing off a buyer’s thoughts on your business will almost certainly turn them off. It can also discourage a buyer from considering your business because your terrible reaction just told them there isn’t any room for growth. 


So I’m just supposed to sit there and listen, even if their idea is awful?


Yes. When buyers ask about why you haven’t done one thing or another, you need to respond in a positive way – like this:


Sure, we tried something similar to that, but we didn’t have much success because (fill in the blank). Maybe the timing wasn’t right or perhaps we could have implemented the idea differently. If you try a different approach maybe it will work for you?


See how much better that sounds? Your answers to questions about “obvious solutions” should contain the details of what you tried and why you felt it didn’t work at that time. You should also give buyers who ask this question examples of ideas you’ve had that you were unable to implement because of financial or time constraints that may not be an issue for a new owner. By handling their questions this way, you are showing them that as the owner of the business you were open to new ideas and had an eye on growth – even if those new ideas didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped they would.


The message here is you don’t want your grumpy, negative response to a buyer’s idea to tank your deal. Every business has room for growth, and sometimes it’s the craziest ideas that get the biggest bang for the buck. Keep your answers to questions positive – and don’t roll those eyes.


Are you getting ready to sell your business and are wondering what else buyers might ask you? Would you like to know more about how buyer meetings typically go? 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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Selling Your Business? Focus On How Buyers Buy

If you own a business, you know how to sell.


You’ve been getting your products and services to clients for years. You know how to focus on the customer experience to better understand what your customer base wants. When the time comes to sell, however, many business owners think they can get to a closing table by merely supplying a recent P&L and some old tax returns. Would you buy a business with nothing more than that? Probably not.


If you are selling your business, you need to do what you’ve done all along – focus on the customer experience, only now your customer is a buyer. You need to think about what motivates a buyer to choose one business over another.



Here’s how:


Get with the times.


Buyers are typically younger and more tech-savvy than their business seller counterparts, so your business needs to speak to buyers who are looking for technology as an answer to operational needs. Make sure your business has a well-designed and properly attended website and social media presence. Upgrade your POS systems. Use digital marketing avenues to generate new clientele. Using technology to upgrade your business tells buyers you’re focused on the future. 


Be organized.


You have to have your books in order. Buyers want to see proof of the numbers you’re claiming and they want that proof now. Legible financials will always beat out a box of crumpled receipts, so streamline and keep up with your paperwork. Streamlined books speak volumes about how you handle the business as whole – an organized business owner is much more appealing than a disorganized mess. 


Fix what needs it.


You know that freezer with the broken handle you’ve been putting up with for years? Fix it. Leaving even minor, but obvious, aesthetic issues shows a lack of attention to detail – and you’d better believe that there are other businesses like yours that run a tighter ship. A buyer will obviously choose a business in better physical shape than one that isn’t – so get fixing.


Don’t procrastinate.


We know it can be overwhelming when your business is on the market, but you can’t let requests from buyers languish – otherwise those buyers will move on. You need to stay on top of buyer requests, even if you feel like they don’t need what they’ve asked for. Procrastination tells them you aren’t that serious about selling, so they’ll move on.


Buyers have a litany of choices in today’s market, so the competition for business sellers is tough. You need to put a plan in place that will help your business stand out from the crowd. By focusing on the buyer experience your business will be more appealing to buyers in the market, so start making these changes today.


Have you thought about selling your business but hadn’t considered the buyer experince? Do you have more questions about how buyers choose between businesses? Ask us! Please 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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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

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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


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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

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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



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Buying Or Selling A Business? Don’t Underestimate Training

Have you thought about what happens after the keys change hands and the buyer and seller walk away from the closing table?


The transaction process isn’t over yet – now the training period begins.


When a business is sold, part of the purchase contract will typically cover a training period of some sort where the seller will stay on with the business until the buyer can be sufficiently trained to take over the helm. This is an all-to-important part of the business transaction process, so it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the training period productive and amicable.


The best way to start the training period off right is to keep the negotiations during the sale process as friendly as possible. Both parties can do this by always using the business brokers involved as intermediaries. It might seem inefficient to always send questions or comments through a third party, but what starts as an innocent phone call to the other side can quickly devolve into a deal-killing fight. Keeping things friendly for the time period before your are stuck working together will make the start of training much easier.


If you are the buyer in the situation, it may be tempting to walk in on day one and completely change everything to your liking. This is a huge mistake for two reasons.


One, you shouldn’t make any changes to a functioning and profitable business until you know everything there is to know about the business. Then, and only then, will you know what parts of the business are making it profitable and successful and what aspects can be changed without causing any unforeseen damage down the line.


The second reason your should hold off on any changes is for the seller’s sake. The seller has a wealth of practical knowledge about the business you just bought, and it is absolutely in your best interest to get absolutely all of that knowledge before the training period is over. By coming in and changing everything, you are essentially telling the seller you don’t think anything they’ve done is worth learning about – a move so insulting that you will probably have an incredibly hard time getting any of that precious practical knowledge. Try to remember that this business was a huge part of the seller’s life, so treat them with a bit of compassion and wait until they are officially gone before you implement any big changes.


If you are the seller in the transaction, the training period can be difficult for a number of reasons. First, once you’ve left the closing table and the keys have changed hands, it can be very tempting to mentally check-out. This is a very bad idea, especially if your deal has seller financing involved (which many deals do). If you check-out and can’t properly train the new owner, the their chances of success (and you seeing the rest of your money) are probably not very good.


Another training pitfall for sellers is getting offended when the new owner wants to make changes. It can be extremely difficult to keep your emotions in check, but you must remember that this business no longer belongs to you, so the new owner can do what they please. Do your best to complete the training period amicably so that your business can carry on successfully without you.


Whether you are the buyer or the seller, it is critically important for the survival of the business in the long term that the training period happensso do your best to work together.


Have you bought a business and the training period wasn’t what it needed to be for you to successfully take over? Are you selling your business and you have questions about what the typical training period will be like? Please feel free to share your experiences or leave us questions here.




Michael Monnot

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

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The End Of 2017 And 2018 Ahead – BizBuySell’s 4th Quarter 2017 Insight Report

BizBuySell’s 4th Quarter 2017 Insight Report shows record highs in the business marketplace, with small business transactions up 27% over the previously record-breaking 2016 numbers. The market has been steadily growing since the recovery for small businesses began in 2013, but 2017 marks a large jump in the number of businesses changing hands.



Why the big jump?


To put it simply, money. Small business revenues are up in most industries, with the economy at large continuing to grow. More businesses are coming on the market, with baby boomer owners choosing to retire and cash out of their businesses while the selling is good. More buyers are also taking the plunge into entrepreneurship with lending options that dried up in the wake of the 2008 recession slowly coming back to life. Added together, today’s market is a boon for business sellers, with many businesses selling for more than they would have two or three years ago – a whopping 14% more.


It’s also a good time for business buyers. They might be paying a premium for businesses, but the businesses they are getting are typically in very good financial shape. The same could not be said post-2008 as the glut of faltering businesses on the market meant you could get a good deal – but you had your work cut out for you.


Will the good times continue?


In the short term, probably. The last quarter of 2017 showed continued growth, with 23% more closed transactions and a 12% increase in median sales price over the same quarter of 2016. Levels that strong will likely continue well into 2018, but those who survived the meltdown of 2008 are beginning to fear another bubble.


The smart move?


If you own a business and were planning on selling in the foreseeable future, now is the time. The market may continue to climb or we may be quickly approaching the peak. There are buyers with money and your business is in the black, so the safest bet is to sell while the selling is good. This is also true if you were considering selling so you could buy a different business. The businesses on the market today are healthy, so a serial entrepreneur would be smart to take the large profit from a sale today and invest in a new opportunity now. The same is true for first time buyers – businesses are healthy and are a great buy.


Want to know what the market looks like for your industry in particular? Do you have questions about when you should sell? Are you thinking about buying a business and want to know what’s currently available? Contact us today.




Michael Monnot

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

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How Business Sellers Can Learn From Facebook’s Problems

Mark Zuckerberg has had a rough couple of weeks. The lack of trust in his business practices landed him in the hot seat before Congress, and that’s never a good place to be.


While the leader of a gargantuan company like Facebook might not have much in common with a small business owner who is looking to sell – there is a major lesson that can be learned from the recent Facebook debacle that can help a seller get to a closing table successfully.



The major lesson? Trust and honesty are key.


A business buyer is going to write you a very big check, and for that check they are expecting to get exactly what you told them they were buying.


All small businesses are complex, and as such those businesses have issues – big and small. There is never a perfect business, but it certainly would be easy to sell if it was – so many sellers make the mistake of trying to create an illusion that their business is perfect.


We get it, issues feel like failures and might decrease the amount of money a buyer is willing to give you. Hiding flaws, however, is a big mistake for a couple of reasons. First, if you had been honest and upfront with issues, buyers may have accepted those issues as part of the deal. If the issues come out later, then you’ve lost the trust of those buyers – and your chances of making it to closing will be slim to none.


Think you can hide those skeletons in the closet? Think again. A major part of any small business transaction is due diligence, where a buyer gets to go through every aspect of your business with a fine toothed comb. If there’s a problem, they’re going to find it, so it’s a far better strategy to be open and upfront. Maintaining trust in a business transaction is key simply because it’s a complicated process with a lot of money changing hands.


The same goes for things you might be slightly embarrassed about and so you gloss over them or don’t mention them in discussions and negotiations. You need to clearly communicate what your business is, how it makes it’s money, how it works day-to-day and what any problems might be. Omitting information or choosing to make light of things a buyer really needs to know is both unethical and a deal killer.


Transparency is crucial to your ability to sell. Trying to hide skeletons or not clearly communicating the aspects of your business a future owner needs to know will surely kill your deal – so play it smarter than Facebook and keep your buyer’s trust. 


Are you considering selling your business, but are worried about the skeletons in the closet? Would you like to know what types of issues buyers are usually willing to overlook? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here.




Michael Monnot

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


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Michael Monnot


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


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