Buying A Business? 3 Financing Options


If you are looking at buying a business, you may not have the full amount you would need to make an all-cash offer – so financing options might need to be considered.


If I need financing, what options are available? 


Traditional Loans


You may be thinking that you can just head down to your local bank and take out a loan to help you buy a small business, but this option will probably have to be taken off the list. Traditional lending institutions are very gun-shy about financing small businesses.


If you are entering the world of small business ownership you already know that starting a small business is a risky venture. You are trying an unproven product or service in an unproven location with unproven operating methods.


Buying an existing small business removes the “unproven” part of the equation – good news for business buyers – but a traditional lending institution is only looking at the risk. For most prospective business buyers, a traditional loan from a traditional lending institution probably isn’t on the table.


The Small Business Administration (SBA)


Some businesses on the market and some buyers who are considering those businesses will qualify for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration – just be aware that because this is a government program it comes with it’s fair share of paperwork and red tape.


Both the business and the buyer themselves will have to meet the qualifications necessary, but in some instances this can be a great financing option for those looking to buy a small business. If you would like to know more about financing options from the SBA, click here to visit SBA’s website or click here to contact us with questions about this lending option.


Seller Financing


Most small business transactions involve this third type of financing, where a buyer puts down a down payment (typically 50% or more) and the seller finances the rest.


This is a great financing option for several reasons. A seller who is willing to keep some skin in the game speaks volumes about their confidence in the future of the business – and it gives opportunities to future business owners who may not have been able to find more traditional lending options.


If you can’t get a traditional loan, and SBA financing isn’t in the cards – talk to your business broker about the possibility of seller financing and about what businesses on the market are currently offering this type of financing. Want to learn more about how seller financing works? Click here to read Seller Financing: The Business Buyer’s Guide.


The opportunity to buy a business can come in many forms. The financing option that suits you best and is available for the business you are interested in will vary – just ask your broker about your options.


Do you have questions about how to qualify for a loan from SBA? Would you like to know what currently available businesses are offering seller financing? Please feel free to leave comments and questions here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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A Fair Price Or Are They Dreaming? Small Business Listing Prices


As a business buyer, the number that will be at the center of your attention throughout the business transaction is the purchase price.


How much are you willing to pay for the business, and how does the seller arrive at their asking price?


These are important considerations, and as you progress through the due diligence phase, you will be deciding if you think the price is fair. What parts of a business will you need to consider when determining the price you are wiling to pay?


Cash Flow and Contracts

In order to determine the cash flow of the business you will need to examine financial statements, sales records, and tax returns for the last few years.

This is a great time to enlist the help of your business broker and possibly an accountant who is familiar with analyzing business transactions. Both will have the experience necessary to determine what the records really show in terms of how the business has been doing. It is impossible to gauge the health of a business by simply looking at the bottom line of tax returns – more analysis will be necessary.

You can also have your business broker determine the operating ratios of the business, as these ratios can be a good indicator to compare against industry standards.

Examine any and all contracts and agreements the business currently has. These include purchase agreements, leases, contractor agreements, and any other legal instruments.



What is the inventory? The inventory includes any materials and products that are used for resale or for client services.

It is very important that you personally and a trusted and qualified representative (like your business broker) are present for and participate in any inventory examination.

You will need to know the inventory status in order to give it a proper evaluation. You should also request the inventory counts from the end of the previous fiscal year.

You may need to have the inventory appraised if you are unable to properly appraise it yourself. The inventory counts as a hard asset, so you will need to know what dollar value to assign to it.

An important point to keep in mind is the value of the inventory is something that can be negotiated. If the inventory is incompatible with your future target market, or in poor condition – these are points to be brought up during negotiations.


Equipment and Furnishings

These parts of the business are important in terms of value because they are considered hard assets, so you will need to know what furnishings, equipment (like kitchen appliances in a restaurant), and vehicles are part of the deal.

For any equipment you will need the name and model number for each piece, the present condition, the value when purchased, the current value, and whether the equipment was leased or bought.

You will also need to consider what kinds of changes and improvements to the building will be needed in order to suit your future business plan.  Find out what the seller invested in terms of maintenance and leasehold improvements so you will know what it will take to keep the facility in good condition.



The price of a business may change based on the economic climate or on the motivation of the seller, but in all reality the price of a business is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Take a good look at the inventory and other hard assets, along with the cash flow and records of the business before you head to the negotiation table with a number you consider fair.


Do you have more questions about how you as a buyer can determine if a price is fair? Would you like to know more about the importance of cash flow? Ask us! 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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Tick, Tock – Why Business Buyers Need To Make The Most Of Due Diligence

If you are in the midst of your business search, then a major step in the process to buy a business is coming your way – due diligence.


This step in the business buying process occurs once an offer from a buyer is accepted by a seller. The business is pulled from the market and placed in a sort of limbo so the buyer has a chance to review all business related documentation and then make a final decision about whether or not they wish to buy the business and how much they would ultimately like to offer.


This limbo phase is great for buyers because it essentially stops the access of other potential buyers to the business they want and gives them a chance to peek behind the scenes.


Due diligence is not, however, an indefinite period that can drag on forever. A typical due diligence period is two weeks. That’s it, and honestly that’s all you really need. We regularly get requests for due diligence periods of multiple weeks or months – but that extended amount of time is unnecessary and unfair to the business itself.


Why is an extended due diligence period unnecessary? If you’ve made an offer on a business, you’ve already seen a good deal of the financial information and have a decent understanding of the inner workings of the business – like the contractual agreements the business has with major clients (for example). You don’t start the due diligence process with a blank slate, it is instead a more in-depth look at something you are already familiar with.


Since you aren’t starting from scratch, you should use your due diligence time efficiently. You should review the documentation as soon as you get it, thereby giving yourself a few days to think about your upcoming decisions. You should also have your broker or your business transaction accountant help you if you have questions – but you need to get them any questions and any documentation promptly as they may not be able to get to it right away. Don’t wait until two days before due diligence is over to rush the paperwork to an accountant and then try to request an extension. Procrastinating during due diligence could mean you are rushed into a decision without having reviewed the information thoroughly – leading to unnecessary surprises down the road.


Why is an extended due diligence period unfair to the business? An extended due diligence period pulls a business off the market and shifts a seller’s focus to just one buyer. The seller has to take time away from the day-to-day operations of the business to provide requested information and answer buyer questions. At the end of an extended due diligence a buyer can then decide they don’t want to move forward with the business sale, leaving the seller to start over with the process of finding buyers after an extended absence from the market. To shift focus for a period of two or three weeks isn’t unfair – but to ask a business owner to change their focus for weeks or months is.


If you are in the market to buy a business, it is in your best interest to use the due diligence period to your advantage by working quickly with the information you are given and giving yourself the time to think about the decisions you need to make. It will alleviate some of the stress of the business buying process and allow you discover any surprises before they become a problem down the road.


Are you looking at businesses and are concerned that a two week due diligence period won’t be enough? Do you have more questions about what happens during due diligence? Ask us! Please leave any 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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They Google You Too – Advice For Business Buyers

If you are in the market to buy a business, then what is one of the first things you will likely do when you find out the name and location of a prospective business? Hit a major search engine like Google and plug in the name.


What many buyers fail to realize, however, is once a seller finds out your name they will do exactly the same thing.


Buying a business is not at all like buying a car. When you are shopping for businesses, you are essentially shopping for a job – so just like a prospective interviewer would do, business sellers are going to look you up.


You also have to consider that the business you buy is someone’s baby, a business where they have invested countless hours and a great deal of money. For most sellers, there is an emotional connection to their business, and as such they won’t be willing to hand over the reins to just anyone. The legacy of their business can be just as important as the check you write.


In addition to the emotional connection, in business sales there is typically a training period of several weeks – so major personality differences between buyer and seller can cause a whole host of problems.


Another major factor that will cause a seller to look you up? Seller financing. In most small business transactions, the seller finances part of the deal. Since they are keeping some skin in the game, it will be very important to know who you (as a buyer) are and if you are the kind of person who will be responsible enough to pay back the debt.


If you are in the market to buy a business, ask yourself this. What happens when someone Googles your name? If you haven’t ever checked, you should.  


Your online presence will speak volumes to a seller who has never met you, and in some cases, brokers themselves will even Google you before agreeing to work with you.


What should you do if you are in the market to buy a business? The first thing you should do is set any social media you use for personal use to private. Only those people you know should be able to see things from your personal life, not prospective sellers.


You should set up a professional social media account on a site such as LinkedIn or a more professional Facebook page that sellers and brokers can see. You should also abide by basic social media guidelines that anyone would use if they were going into a job interview. No pictures of drunken debauchery, no rage-infused political rants, no dirty jokes – you get the idea.


If a cursory search for your name turns up nothing but pictures of you partying hard – it may reflect poorly on you as a competent professional and leave sellers uncomfortable with your ability to get the job done. Clean up your social media image before anyone looks you up.


Are you a buyer looking at businesses and hadn’t considered your online image? Would you like to know what else you could do to make yourself more appealing to sellers? 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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The Good, Bad And Ugly: How To See Past The First Impression

It’s an age-old adage that first impressions are of the utmost importance. It’s why business people wear suits and why car dealerships keep the cars on their lots shiny and clean. It might seem like basic sales knowledge that in order to sell something, you need to make sure it is ready for that all-important first impression.


Business buyers who come to the business marketplace looking for a shiny, clean business are in for some serious disappointment, and that disappointment may lead some to either give up their business search or continue searching indefinitely.




Businesses, and small businesses in particular, can be ugly monsters. At a cursory first glance, a business that has recently listed might seem outrageously overpriced, have seemingly unintelligible financial records and look like an unorganized mess teetering on the brink of collapse. These terrible first impressions, however, mean that buyers regularly pass over perfectly good businesses just because they aren’t perfect.


Why do they look so bad?


Small business ownership is a tough gig. Owners who are very capable of holding everything together and helping the business grow may not be so great at keeping their books organized or at explaining why they listed the business for the price they did. As a buyer, you want a strong business, so overlooking businesses because the current owners focus more on the strength and growth of the business instead of focusing on neatly curated paperwork would be a very big mistake.


Another major first impression hurdle is the aesthetics – peeling paint, outdated decor, dirty floors – but again the point here is you want a business whose owner focused on the bones of the business itself, not someone who only worried that the place stayed immaculate.


How do I see past the ugliness?


Get some professional help. Business brokers look at ugly (but wonderful) businesses every day, and they can help you as a buyer navigate the shoddy paperwork and stained carpet to see what you really would be buying underneath. When you buy a business, you aren’t really buying furnishings and a sign anyway – you are buying cash flow – so having someone to help you determine what the cash flow looks like for the businesses you find interesting can go a long way towards helping you make a decision.


As you start your business search try to remember that in the business for sale world, it’s not the first impression that counts.


Have you been searching for a business but haven’t found one that doesn’t come across as a complete train wreck? Would you like advice about how to see past the first impression to find great businesses? Please ask us! Leave comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.



Michael Monnot

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


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BEFORE You Get On The Plane – A Successful Business Buyer Trip


The rapid approach of another holiday season and the end of the year can cause a budding entrepreneur to rethink their current life and consider other options. New buyers come to the market curious about what life might be like as the owner of a business, and many who are visiting from northern climates experience the beautiful winter weather of Florida and seriously consider a move south.


There are amazing business ownership opportunities in the Sunshine State, and we would love to help you find the one that is right for you – but there is one very important element of the business buying process that buyers should know long before they set foot on a plane.


You absolutely, positively can’t call about a business one day and see it the next.


This one is frustrating for both business brokers and buyers alike. If you call us today and tell us you are only in town for another 24 hours and you want to see one of our businesses – the answer is no.


We would love to accommodate you, but it just isn’t possible, especially during this time of year.


In order to see a business, we would have to know that the business is right for you and that it is a business you could successfully afford. There is no sense in wasting your time looking at businesses you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to buy. Then you would have to sign the appropriate non-disclosure agreements. Then a showing would need to be coordinated between your schedule, the schedule of your broker, the schedule of the seller’s broker, the schedules of the sellers themselves and at a time when the business isn’t operating or when the employees will not be around (for confidentiality reasons).


This complicated mix of conversations, paperwork and meshing of schedules is going to be extremely tough during the holiday months in particular because many of the necessary parties are traveling or hosting family and won’t be available.  


It is possible, however, for all of the necessary background, non-disclosure agreements and schedule juggling to be done – with enough notice. Just realize that 24 hours or even a few days aren’t going to be enough.


If you are considering taking a trip south and looking at businesses, make contact with a broker and work on setting up these visits before you even buy your plane tickets.


We say this because we want your business search to be successful and we want you to find and see businesses that are right for you. The right business for you is going to depend on things we can’t know about you until we’ve had a chance to talk to you about your goals for business ownership and the amount of money you actually have available to buy a business. The right business for you will also be found by looking at many listings, reviewing financial statements and having conference calls with multiple sellers – all long before you set foot in an actual, physical business.


We also want you to be able to make the most out of your time here – so by researching and vetting the businesses that meet with your goals, by already talking to sellers via conference call – you can efficiently see the two or three businesses you are already serious about buying when you come for a visit.


Set yourself up for business buying success by starting your search before you buy your tickets to Florida!


Are you a buyer who has tried to see a business last-minute and would like to know more about why this isn’t possible? Are you curious about the business ownership opportunities available in Florida? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help you on your journey to business ownership.




Michael Monnot

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

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Buying A Business? The Importance Of A Narrow Focus

Here’s one we see all the time. We get a call or an email from a buyer who wants to sign 15 NDA’s on 15 different types of businesses so they can see where each is located and then decide which ones they like.

First of all, any business broker worth their salt is not going to disclose that many listings to a buyer all at once. Why? A buyer looking at 15 different types of business hasn’t narrowed their search, so disclosing all of those businesses puts the confidentiality of those businesses at risk unnecessarily. It is also a colossal waste of both the buyer’s and broker’s time to fill out all of that paperwork for nothing.

You might enter the business marketplace with only a vague idea of the kind of business you want, but you really need to narrow the focus of your search right away if you want to have any kind of success with finding businesses that will actually help you achieve your goals. There are hundreds of potential listings out there, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the choices.

How do you narrow your search?

Talk to a business broker first.

We will ask you about your goals for business ownership. What do you hope entrepreneurship will bring to your life? The freedom to make your own schedule? More money than you make at your current job? More time to spend with your family? The ability to grow a business to sell a few years later? These goals will be very helpful in eliminating businesses that don’t fit the bill.

We will ask you about your prior knowledge and experience. What industries have you worked in? What did you go to school for? Taking over a new business is hard enough, you probably don’t want to add learning a whole new industry to the mix at the same time.

We will ask you about your financial situation. How much do you have to invest? Are you looking for financing? Knowing from the very beginning exactly how much you have to work with will be instrumental to ensuring you end up with a business you can afford.

After having this type of discussion with your business broker, you can focus on businesses that will fit all of your needs and not waste any of your time looking at businesses that don’t. Narrowing your focus early also helps you keep from feeling like your search never ends.

Are you starting your business search and need help with narrowing your focus? Are you curious about what businesses are available in your area? Do a cursory business search by clicking here or leave us any questions or comments below.





Michael Monnot

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

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Do You Really Want To Buy A Business? Prove It.

Why is everyone blowing me off?


If you’ve spent any time as a potential business buyer, you likely know what we’re talking about. No one will return your calls. Brokers seem apathetic at best. Sellers act like you are wasting their time. It’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to give you any information.


What gives?


It’s a numbers issue. The business-for-sale marketplace is full of buyers, but very few of them are serious. The stats show that a mere 10% of potential business buyers actually end up buying a business, so 9 times out of 10 a buyer really is wasting everyone’s time.


Ok, but I’m a serious buyer. How do I get everyone to take me seriously?



Be ready.


You need to be serious about buying a business before you start making phone calls. If you’re in the very preliminary stages – think several years before you plan on taking the entrepreneurial plunge, you need to make that clear when you talk to a broker. Explain that you are considering business ownership down the road, but would like their input on what types of businesses would fit your goals. If you are further along in the process and actually ready to buy – make that clear as well.


Know what you want.


You need to have clear goals for business ownership. What do you want out of owning a business? Do you want a more flexible schedule? Do you need more time with your kids? Are you looking to make as much money as possible and then sell the business in a few years? Your goals will guide what type of business is right for you, so you need to have those goals in place before you start asking for conference calls with sellers.


Be honest about your money.


Nothing is worse than getting close to a closing table, only to find out the buyer doesn’t have the money they said they did. You need to be 100% honest and upfront with your broker about the actual funds you actually have right now. You also need to listen to your broker when they tell you it’s a terrible idea to look at $100,000 businesses when you only have $100,000 to spend. You need to leave some working capital in your pocket so you don’t bankrupt your business immediately after buying it.


Make offers.


Once you know what you can afford and what your goals are, actively look for businesses. Once you’ve found one that fits – make an offer. The transaction process can’t begin until you do, and you can walk away from any business up until the moment the closing documents are signed – so making an offer doesn’t mean an absolute commitment to that particular business.


The message here is it can be tough to get the industry to take you seriously, and although it isn’t your fault that the numbers aren’t in your favor – there are things you can do to stand out from the crowd.


Have you always wanted to buy a business, but you aren’t sure where to start? Are you serious about buying but no one will give you the time of day? Please leave any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help you on your journey to business ownership.  




Michael Monnot

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


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Buying A Business With A Partner? Why You Need A Break-Up Contract


Buying a business is a huge and sometimes overwhelming project, one that can oftentimes be better handled with a business partner to share the load. A good partnership means sharing the responsibilities, costs and schedule that buying and owning a business demands. Good business partners both bring their own unique and complementary skills to the table – allowing the partnership to help the business grow.


A good business partnership also has one all-important thing. A break-up contract.


What’s a break-up contract?


Similar in nature to a prenuptial agreement before a wedding, a “break-up” or partnership contract is an iron-clad and very detailed contract business partners sign that clearly states – in writing – the what and how if one of the partners decides to (or needs to) leave the business.


I’m buying a business with my best friend of 20 years, we don’t need a break-up contract.


Yes, you 100% do. Business partnerships fall apart every day, and sometimes it isn’t even because the relationship between the partners has soured. What if your best friend of 20 years gets divorced and his now ex-wife wants the business sold so she can have back the money they invested as a married couple when you first bought it? What if you have to leave to take care of a sick parent overseas and won’t be able to contribute to the business anymore? Having a predetermined plan in place makes the split easy at a time when life probably isn’t.


My business partner is going to think I don’t trust them if I ask to put together a contract like this.


First, if your business partner is making a judgement like this – they aren’t keeping their personal feelings out of what should be a purely business decision. Second, if you are worried that you might offend your partner – open the discussion by saying you both need to have a plan in place so the business can survive if something happens to one of you.


This seems like an unnecessary step.


Even if your business partnership ends amicably down the road, not having a contract in place can mean massive legal bills for both of you when it does happen. This is especially true if the split comes because of something like a divorce. You need to spend the small amount of effort and money now to protect both of you and the future of the business.


The message here is every business partnership will eventually end. That end can be a painful and expensive nightmare, or you can plan ahead and put together a business partnership contract that lays out what happens instead.


Are you thinking about buying a business with a partner, but hadn’t considered a “break-up” contract? Do you have questions about what a contract like this might look like? Please feel free to leave any comments or questions here.




Michael Monnot

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


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Great Questions: What Business Buyers Should Be Asking

If you are beginning the process of buying a business, then conversations with business sellers will definitely be in your future.


You can find lists of questions to ask in many places, and although these traditional questions like “how much is the lease?” or “why are you selling?” are very important, there are some less-traditional questions that can be equally important to ask.


Why ask questions of the seller at all? Couldn’t they just be telling me what I want to hear? Isn’t it a better idea to let the numbers speak for themselves?


Yes and no. The hard facts, like the numbers in the books, like the contracts and client agreements – these can tell you much of what you need to know about a business and can bring forth facts that will be instrumental in your decision to buy or not to buy.


Buyers who don’t ask questions of sellers, however, are missing out on very important information. The person who is selling has lived and breathed this business for some time, and their experience, the reasons they’ve made the decisions they’ve made – this information can speak volumes to a buyer.


Why? It gives you a unique behind-the-scenes perspective you can’t see in black-and-white numbers on paper.


What kinds of non-traditional questions should you ask? Here’s three:


What parts of the business keep you up at night?


This one is important because the answer gives two very important insights. One, it shows any problems that might not be readily apparent in the books and two, it will give a buyer a chance to see what might need to be addressed early on in their ownership. 


If you could start over from scratch, what would you do differently?


This question also gives two insights. First, like the previous question this one will highlight any issues with the business. The seller will probably express that they would make changes to avoid the problems they currently face. Second, it will give a buyer fantastic advice as to the changes they could make right out of the gate to help the business grow in the future.


What are you going to do if the business doesn’t sell?


If a seller answers “close the doors and walk away”, then a buyer needs to take a closer look at why the current owners would be willing to give the business up. Is it because of a personal issue that they must attend to like moving to another state to care for family? Is it because of a health issue that would preclude the seller from performing their daily duties? Is it because the business is teetering on bankruptcy?


On the other hand, a more positive answer to the “what if it doesn’t sell?” question like “keep the business running and growing until I find the right buyer” says a lot about the health of the business and the current owner’s faith in the future of the business.


Asking these non-traditional questions and even coming up with a few of your own will be very helpful in determining whether or not a business you are considering is right for you.They also make it possible to see past the black and white numbers to see what life has been like for the seller (and what life will be like for you should you buy). Ask great questions and you will have a far better chance of finding the right business for you!


Have you started looking at businesses and have more questions about the kinds of things you should ask? Do you need help figuring out what questions to ask for a particular business? Ask us! Please feel free to leave comments or questions here and we will be happy to help.




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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