Stay In Your Wheelhouse: Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Business You Know Nothing About

Sometimes it seems like a good idea. A hard about-face in life. Choosing to buy a business in an industry that interests you, but one where you’ve never spent a single, solitary second. How exciting, right? A whole new chapter of life – a new adventure.

 

Don’t do it. Here’s why.

 

Life as a business owner is tough. Really tough. It’s long hours, lots of responsibility and constant challenges. That toughness translates into rewards if you have the grit, experience and passion to be a successful entrepreneur. Notice we included the word experience. We’re not saying you need to have owned a business before. The romantic notion that the only requirements for success as a business owner are grit and passion just isn’t reality.

 

 

The reality is taking over a small business as the new owner comes with a sharp and steep learning curve. There are so many aspects of owning and running your new business that you will have to learn – quickly. How the operating procedures work and why they are the way they are. The nuances of your new staff. What needs to be where and when. How to place orders. How to manage inventory. How to stay on top of licenses, taxes, payroll. The list is long. What you don’t need in this mix is trying to learn an entirely new industry. If you want to be successful you’re going to have an exponentially easier time taking over a business where you have some real, practical experience. 

 

Here’s an example. Say you went to school to be an accountant, then you spent some time working as the accountant for a small manufacturing company. Like most people you’re a fan of a good happy hour and have always had a daydream of owning a tiki bar on the beach. When a 200 seat beach bar near you goes up for sale, you put in an offer and are able to work out a purchase contact with the seller. After closing on the sale you struggle with your now 24/7 work schedule. You’ve never worked anything but a classic 9 to 5, so having to open the bar at 10am and stay until 3am every day is rough. The huge staff you’ve inherited to run this large establishment are a constant source of drama you’ve never had to contend with. You fire one employee and then 9 more quit, including your weekend bar back. Now you’re juggling trying to fill the schedule and trying to hire someone who will actually show up to be the bar back on Saturday nights. So for 5 Saturday nights in a row you’re the one hauling kegs and refilling ice. And you didn’t realize how fast you’d go through lemons so you’re driving around at 4am looking for a 24 hour grocery store because there isn’t any time to order from your vendor and get lemons by tomorrow. Then your line cook calls in sick so you have to jump in and work the line for 3 days, cooking food you’ve never cooked at what seems an insane pace – much to the displeasure of your customers who keep sending the food back. 

 

If you’re someone who has experience in the restaurant industry, that scenario probably seems pretty normal. You know what it’s like to work late shifts and have to jump in and cover for people who’ve called in that night. You’re familiar with the drama that exists in every food industry staff. You understand that a 200 seat anything is huge, and not for anyone who’s a rookie. You know what food cost is and you understand what a bar needs (lemons) to function properly.

 

The point here is you really need to know what you’re getting into before you make the life-altering decision to buy a business. The only way to really know what owing a business is going to be like is by working in that industry at some point in your life. Our accountant from the example above could have bought a small manufacturing business or a small accounting firm and done quite well. Instead they are immediately overwhelmed and quickly burned out.

 

Don’t do this to yourself. Talk to a business broker about the practical experience and education you have. You might be surprised by the business and industry options available that would compliment the things you’ve done in the past. Set yourself up for success, not burnout.

 

Are you rethinking buying a business you know nothing about and want to know what industries and businesses would fit with your experience? Did you buy a business cold and have a story to share? Contact us or leave any questions or comments, we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

 

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Why Are Sellers So Difficult? Understanding The Other Side

If you have just entered the business market, you may have noticed that sellers are not falling all over themselves to court you and sell you on buying their business. Considering how much money you are about to spend, you may feel like sellers should be doing more to entice you – but business sales don’t work that way.

 

 

It’s not like buying a really expensive car or a really nice watch where sales people fight over you and do everything they can to close a deal.

 

When you own and run a business, it is a life-encompassing affair. Your business is your baby, so selling that business – which involves handing over the keys and walking away – can be a very emotionally difficult thing to do.

 

Whether it’s productive or not, many sellers look at buyers as the villain in the story. They see questions as a personal attack. They get offended when you find issues. They get easily insulted during negotiations. You get the idea. 

 

Another issue arises because most business information is inherently private and proprietary, so it can be hard for a seller to hand over that information to someone who is essentially a complete stranger.

 

When sellers first list their business, they put together a package of general information, and that information is probably all they are comfortable handing over. Trouble can start when you as a buyer want more information than a purposefully vague listing or a basic marketing package.  

 

As a buyer, you are entitled to all the information you need to make an educated decision, just try to see your requests from the seller’s point of view. Would you be willing to answer a 90 question list after you had provided the answers to those questions in a marketing package the buyer clearly hasn’t read? Would you love the idea of complete strangers digging around your financial records?

 

The key to working together with sellers is to have a bit of patience and to use your intermediaries (your brokers and attorneys) as a buffer between the two sides. A good broker, for example, will ask you to read any information already supplied and pare down that 90 question list so as not to offend the seller.

 

Working together with the seller is of the utmost importance if you want your deal to reach a closing table – and keeping things amicable will make the training and transition period (where both sides will be working together) from being an awkward disaster.

 

Are you a new buyer in the market and have had trouble finding cooperative sellers? Do you have questions about what information you will be able to access and what kinds of questions are appropriate to ask a seller? Ask us! Please feel free to leave a comment or question, and we would be happy to help you on your road to business ownership.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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What Do We Do About The Employees? Suggestions For Business Buyers & Sellers

A business is for sale, and this business has employees. The employees have been kept in the dark about the for-sale status in order to protect the integrity of the business throughout the transaction process, but now that a buyer and seller have come to an initial agreement and the sale is moving forward – how do you handle the employees?

 

 

This is one of the most important (and by nature carefully handled) aspects of the sale of a business. The sale of any business that has employees (especially a business with critical “key employees”) will need to be handled delicately.

 

As a buyer, do you demand that you meet with employees before closing as you feel they are critical to the business? As a seller, do you let this happen? What if the buyer walks away or approaches the employees the wrong way?

 

Although a seller might feel that their employees will only be loyal to their ownership and won’t accept a new boss, in most cases employees can view a new owner as a positive – if the transition is handled properly. 

 

How? Focus your discussions with employees on the benefits a new owner will bring – and wait to tell them until after the sale.

 

Here’s a few thoughts:

 

Long term businesses often become stale as sales efforts and marketing may have lagged or become non-existent leaving the business just gliding. A new owner can bring that new energy, marketing ideas, additional employees, new clients and just a new way of doing things which can invigorate a business and push it to the next level. As the business grows and changes for the better those employees who stay can reap the benefits of those changes. This is especially true if the business is being acquired by a larger firm or if the business is ripe for expansion.

 

One of the reasons why you don’t tell employees too early is most of the time the employees really do want or need to keep their job. Telling employees too soon can make them feel very insecure and can leave them wondering if they will have a job after the sale closes. They might worry that they will be replaced, they might have concerns about getting along with a new owner or they may worry that they won’t be able to handle the changes a new owner will make. These worries can cause an employee to panic and quit – which is bad news for both sides of the deal. This is why both sides should wait until after the sale to tell the employees. Knowing that they’ve made it past the end of the transaction will assure an employee that their job is safe. Buyers should let their new staff know that no major changes are planned and immediately set expectations. 

 

The message here is typically the loyalty of employees is to the business or their job and not necessarily to the seller. It’s also critically important to wait until after the sale to tell employees anything.

 

Instead (after the sale), both sides should focus on open and honest communication, ask for input about what the business can do better, be clear on new roles and reinforce that the new owner is counting on the existing staff. Hopefully that will build confidence and loyalty on both sides, thereby creating a positive environment as the business moves forward to the future. 

 

Have you sold a business and told your employees too early about the sale? Are you buying a business and want to know more about why it’s a bad idea to talk to the key employees before closing? Please feel free to share your story or ask questions here.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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A Business Buyer’s Options For Corporate Structures – Which Is Best For You?

There are a lot of important decisions to make when you are buying a business, but one you may not have considered is choosing the corporate structure. You will need a corporate structure in place before you do many of the licensing/permitting applications that will be necessary for you to officially take over the reins. Your corporate structure also defines who owns the business and how the business will be taxed. 

 

 

What are my options?

 

Corporation

Probably the most frequently used and preferred type of structure for forming a company is the corporation. By presenting the Articles of Corporation to the Secretary of State, you can form a corporation fairly quickly. If you are forming the company in Florida, then the registered office is also in Florida and the corporate structures are governed by the laws of the state of Florida. A corporation formed in Florida can carry out business in every state, although all of the states require a registration. Foreign nationals can also form a corporation in Florida. A registered agent (a person headquartered in Florida) has to be named to receive and deliver documents.

 

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The Limited Liability Company is not accepted in all states, but it is in Florida. The shareholders are personally liable for taxation and the accountability is limited to the assets of the business. Just like the corporation, an LLC requires the filing documents to be registered with the Secretary of State. In most cases at least two shareholders are required for a Limited Liability Company.

 

Sole Proprietorship

If the business is privately owned, it is a Sole Proprietorship. In the majority of cases a single person is the owner of the business. This type of corporate structure does have some downsides. The owner is liable with all of their personal assets and the owner is also liable for taxation.

 

General Partnership

In this type of corporate structure, the partners lead the business together and all of the partners are absolutely liable for accounts payable. This setup usually requires more administrative effort and can be more cost-intensive.

 

Limited Partnership

The Limited Partnership consists at least of 2 people, a General and a Limited Partner. The Limited Partner has a supervisory role, both available and limited. He or she can’t be part of the management and acts as an investor. The General Partner leads and is liable for the business. A shareholder contract has to be prepared for the forming of the business. With this type of corporate structure, you have to request a Certificate of Limited Partnership from the Secretary of State.

 

 

Before you make a decision it is important to contact a certified public accountant familiar with corporate structures and small businesses, a business attorney or a business broker because they will be able to advise you about what type of structure would be right for the business you want to purchase. Are you a business buyer or budding entrepreneur who would like help? Please feel free to contact us or leave a question here and we will be happy to help or refer you to one of our partners.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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Business Buyer: What’s In An Offer?

If you’ve found a business you really like, and you are ready for the next step, congratulations!

 

The next stage in the business transaction process is the initial offer, sometimes called a “purchase contract” or an “offer to purchase”.

 

 

Once a buyer makes an offer, the seller decides if they are willing to accept the offer. If they are, then the business transaction heads into a period called due diligence. Just like you can’t do an inspection on a house until you’ve had an accepted offer – in business sales an accepted offer will give a business buyer a chance to look over every aspect of the business and decide if they want to go ahead with the sale.

 

What goes into an offer?

 

This document will contain the terms, conditions, non-compete conditions, financing, inventory, transition details like training, warranties and any other aspects of the purchase.

 

Should I write my own offer?

 

In most cases, you will want to have a business broker put together an offer to purchase for you, although there are some standardized versions you may be able to use in the most simple of transactions. Business transactions are inherently complex, so having someone who writes these types of contracts all the time to help you will keep you from having issues (like if you unknowingly leave out what could be a crucial part of the contract) down the road. If you really want to write your own, just make sure you have your broker look it over before it gets handed over to the seller.

 

Is an offer set in stone?

 

Absolutely not! Your initial offer is contingent upon what you discover in due diligence. If what you uncover during this period makes you unwilling to go ahead with the purchase, you will have the opportunity to back out. If what you find during due diligence isn’t enough to kill the deal, but you discover, for instance, that the business is earning 15% less than was initially stated , you will be able to adjust your offer accordingly.

 

The moral of the story? An offer is an important part of the business transaction process, so use the experience of your business broker to guide you through this step.

 

Are you a buyer with your eye on a particular business but you aren’t sure what will need to go into the initial offer? Was your initial offer rejected by the seller and you need to know what to do next? Please leave us a comment or question and we would be happy to help you.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Should I Use Multiples? Advice For Business Sellers & Buyers

The most important number in the sale of any small business is the price. The listing price is what a seller hopes to get and the purchase price is what someone is actually willing to pay.

 

Where do these numbers come from?

 

There are a few ways that business prices come to be. They typically come from an analysis of the financial records of the business, coupled with what the assets and inventory are worth. In some cases, it is appropriate to use the sold price of comparable businesses in the area, in others it comes down to multiples:

 

 

What’s a multiple?

 

In the simplest form a multiple takes the average sale price for businesses in a particular industry and compares that number to what a business earns. For example, the multiple for a restaurant might be two times earnings – meaning you should price a restaurant at twice what it earns in a particular year.

 

Now that you know what multiples are, how should you use them?

 

Multiples should really only be used to determine a ball-park figure for the value of a business. Take the restaurant example. Restaurants are very complex businesses, so most restaurants sell for a number very different than an oversimplified two times earnings.

 

If multiples only give you a ball-park figure, should you use them at all? Yes and no. When you are looking to sell your business, multiples can help you get a starting point for where you might want to set your listing price. It is critically important, however, that you not stick with a simplified number that could cause you to over or under value your business on the market.

 

If you are a buyer, you can use multiples to help you gauge if the listing price of a business is in line with industry standards – just remember that the justification for a listing price probably includes much, much more than just the multiple.

 

Are you a business seller who wants help using multiples to set a listing price for your business? Are you a buyer who has questions about how to use multiples when analyzing business prices? Ask us! Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help you with multiples.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Is It Too Ugly? Why You Need To Look Beyond The Mess

 

When you first start searching for a business to buy you might have an idea in your head of what that business will look like. In your mind the location is perfect, the windows are clean and everything is new and organized. When you are shopping for something like a house or a car this is often the case – as a clean home shows much more successfully than a dirty one. In the small business market, however, this expectation of perfection is going to be problematic.

 

Why?

 

Most small businesses are a mess because a small business is complex by nature. Sure, the parts that the customer sees are usually tidy – but walk into most back offices, kitchens, garages – and the reality will show itself. And the mess might not be just physical. As you start to peel back the layers on most small businesses problems will spill out. There might be interpersonal issues with the staff. The financial records might be an unorganized disaster. You get the idea.

 

Here’s the good news. If your first impression isn’t great it doesn’t mean it’s not a great business. It just means you need to dig a little deeper to see if the mess that’s in front of you is something manageable or something you aren’t going to want.

 

Here’s a few examples:

 

You walk in and it’s ugly.

 

The equipment is really old. The décor is really dated. The vehicles look worn out. When your first aesthetic impression of the physical parts of a business isn’t great, it doesn’t necessarily mean the business itself is bad or doesn’t make money. Instead of instantly deciding the business isn’t up to par – ask why the current owner keeps things the way they are. To you the outdated décor in a café isn’t appealing, but perhaps it’s the old school charm that keeps the loyal clientele coming back. The vehicles might look worn out, but upon further inquiry you discover that the vehicles always look like that because this construction business is rough on their equipment and the internal parts of the vehicles are very well maintained. You can’t let aesthetics alone sway your decision about a business.

 

You find out there’s a ton of employee drama.

 

If the business you’re considering requires employees then you’re likely going to encounter some sort of staffing issues (particularly when you first take over). If it seems like there’s an issue among the staff, ask the current owner why they haven’t dealt with it. Maybe what seems like drama is simply a culture that works as this staff has been working together successfully for a very long time. Maybe the employees who have issues with each other are able to keep it professional in front of customers and are really great at their jobs. In this case the issues don’t actually impact the business itself. Perhaps the current owner is a bit burned out and has become apathetic to employee issues that could be easily handled by you as a new owner laying some new ground rules.

 

You have to understand going in that a small businesses is going to be messy. Parts of it will likely be ugly. The mess and ugliness probably don’t tell you the full picture. Make sure you are delving a bit deeper to understand why things are the way they are – before deciding to walk away from what could be the perfect business for you. 

 

Are you starting the search process for businesses and want to know what you should look for during site visits? Do you have questions about the kinds of small business issues that are relatively easy to fix as a new owner? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Why “Any Business That Makes Money” Is A Bad Idea

Don’t set yourself up to hate your new business.

 

 

This one happens more than it should. A prospective buyer calls a business broker and asks for “any business that makes money” – a colossal mistake.

 

Here’s why:

 

Business ownership is tough. It usually requires long hours, a fair amount of grit, resilience and enough passion for what you’re doing to sustain you long term. Sure, entrepreneurs own businesses so they can make money, but the making money part can’t be the only thing keeping you in the game. You have to have a business you won’t hate that allows you to maintain a life you don’t hate or there’s no way this path will be sustainable. 

 

If you call a good broker and ask for any business that makes money they should immediately tell you you’re approaching the process from the wrong direction.

 

Here’s a better approach:

 

Why do you want to own your own business? Is it because you have a deep passion for something? Is it because you’re tired of working for someone else and want to be your own boss? Do you want your own business so you can be more in control of your schedule? Are you looking to incorporate members of your family into the business so you can work together? These broad, sweeping questions about your motivation for business ownership are very important. If you are buying a business because you want to have more control over your schedule (so you can spend more time with your kids) a large restaurant that requires you to work 7 days a week isn’t going to give you the flexibility to be the soccer coach for your kid’s team. A different type of business could. This initial soul-searching of sorts is critical for deciding what your most important goals for business ownership are and then focusing only on businesses that will fit those goals. 

 

Once you have some goals and priorities in place – what are you good at? What kinds of practical experience do you have that could help you with your new business? Going back to the restaurant example above – if you’ve never worked so much as a minute in the restaurant industry you are going to have an almost impossibly hard time owning and running a large restaurant. The learning curve for an entrepreneur is a steep one, and if you add learning a whole new industry to the mix you are setting yourself up to to fail in spectacular fashion. Tell your broker about your education and experience. When combined with your goals information about your experience can be used to find great businesses that will set you up for success. 

 

Have you always wanted to own your own business but aren’t sure what type would meet your goals and fit with your experience? Do you have questions about businesses currently on the market? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Don’t Download – Why You Need To Make Up Your Own Questions

You’ve found a business or two that you really like. You’ve filled out the NDAs and have the marketing packages in front of you. You’ve scheduled a conference call or a meeting with the sellers and the brokers, and your broker has asked you to come up with a list of questions.

 

So, what do you want to know?

 

 

It can be tempting in this situation to just Google “lists of questions for business buyers” and then bring that list of questions with you. Don’t do that. If you need to look up a list of questions to ask it’s likely that you haven’t done any research on your side.

 

Here’s what we mean:

 

Have you thoroughly read the marketing package you received once you signed the NDA? This one becomes blatantly obvious once you start asking boiler-plate questions that were clearly answered in the material you were already given. This tells the seller that you don’t really care about details and are willing to waste everyone’s time. If you were selling a business that was your blood, sweat and tears would you be willing to give the keys to someone who can’t be bothered? Probably not.

 

Have you researched the local market, the industry in general, the area where the business is located, etc.? If you are serious about buying a business you should want to know everything about not only the business but the industry and local area as well. Again it will show your lack of dedication to the process if you go into that first meeting and ask something a simple internet search could have told you or that you probably should already know if this is the business you’re hoping to buy.

 

Have you read the list of questions you’re going to ask? This one might sound crazy but it happens with frankly alarming regularity. People will either ask or send a list of questions to be answered that are from a completely different arena. Like a person looking at a small café who asks about the stock options available to investors. Once again this shows everyone involved that you probably don’t care.

 

See the recurring theme? Your meetings and calls with a seller are critically important opportunities to gather the information you need to make an informed decision about whether this business will be right for you. These interactions are also pivotal in terms of showing a seller that you’re a serious buyer and someone capable of taking over the business that they care about. Don’t waste your own time by not taking the opportunities to ask great questions.

 

Are you looking at businesses to buy and aren’t sure what types of questions you should ask? Do you want to know what kinds of information you would need for a particular industry? Ask an experienced and qualified business broker for help! You may also leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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How To Avoid 6 Big Business Buyer Mistakes

If you are considering buying a business for the first time you’d probably like to avoid any mistakes. No one wants to walk into their new business and immediately mess something up, right? One of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to learn about common missteps and then work to avoid the blunders of those who have come before you. 

 

What are some typical blunders that inexperienced entrepreneurs make? Here’s six:

 

Naming the business after yourself:

When deciding on a name for your business it can be tempting to just name it after yourself. Here’s why you shouldn’t. Your business name is pubic information, and will also become your brand. While that might be fine for a social media influencer it can be an issue if you have a business that you want to be able to sell. You don’t want to work forever, so when the time comes to retire or move on to another venture you might have to also sell your name to a new owner. You can avoid this by coming up with an original name instead. 

 

Buying a business you know nothing about:

First-time business ownership is hard enough without having to start from zero. If you have always wanted to buy a restaurant, but have never worked in one – it would be a big mistake to choose that industry. Choose a business in an area where you have practical experience because as the owner of a business, you need to know what the business needs.

 

Not doing your homework:

Why is the business for sale? Is it just because the owner is retiring, or are they jumping off a sinking ship? You will have the due diligence phase to determine what the problems are, and then you will have the opportunity to amend your offer or walk away from the deal all together. This is a critically important step, as you don’t want to discover problems after the business is already yours.

 

Changing too much too soon:

Unless you are buying a business with a horrible reputation, a new owner should tread carefully with regards to changing the business. You bought the business because it was an established company with a good reputation, and you don’t want to drive away customers familiar with the brand by immediately dismantling everything they know about the business. The established image may have more to do with the bottom line than you know, so make changes slowly.

 

Not leaving yourself enough cash:

It may take several months to get a business transitioning to a new owner in the black, so leave yourself enough operating capital to keep the doors open. Many new owners walk into a functioning business and immediately spend far too much on unnecessary improvements, digging themselves a very deep financial hole in the process.

 

Not understanding the importance of marketing:

You may have bought an already established business, but that doesn’t mean that you can forgo the push to keep the business growing. Most established businesses already have a customer base, but keeping those customers coming back and bringing new ones in is a responsibility that now falls to you. Advertising and marketing need to be a top priority as the new owner.

 

The most important thing you can do as someone who wants to become a business owner is find the right help. If this is a process you’ve never gone through before, find a good business broker to help you along the way. Having assistance through this process will save you from making many of the mistakes that first-time business buyers make.

 

Are you thinking about buying a business for the first time, but want to avoid the blunders listed above? Do you have additional questions about the business buying process? Contact us or leave a question here and we will be happy to assist you on the road to business ownership.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

 

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Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

9040 Town Center Parkway
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202




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