The Realistic Must-Have List: Thoughts For Business Buyers


If you’ve ever watched one of the myriad of home renovation shows, you understand the importance of staying realistic with your must-have’s in a home when you are looking to buy. You can’t expect perfection when you are looking for a deal.


A similar truth rings true if you are looking at buying a business. Many new prospective business buyers come to the market with an eternally long list of what their ideal business must have before they buy. They literally want the perfect business. Guess what? The perfect business doesn’t exist.


We’ve seen some interesting perfection-seeking, must-have lists – like only wanting a business where the owner is retiring, the business is at least 20 years old, the landlord is willing to lower the rent and it must be able to run with an absentee owner – all for less than $50,000. Realistic? Definitely not.


The problem with this approach is the longer your must-have list, the less likely you are to find a business. You may end up in buyer purgatory forever, always searching for the “perfect” business.


Your first step towards successfully finding a business is letting go of the must-have’s and instead focusing on the goals you would like to achieve as a business owner. What are you looking for – a chance to be your own boss, more financial freedom, the opportunity to follow a passion? Ask yourself these questions first, then look for a business that will fit with your goals.


Your next step after defining your goals is to decide what issues you will be willing to deal with and which will be deal breakers once you find a business. All businesses are inherently complex and all businesses have issues of one kind or another – so be ready to make decisions on what’s do-able and what’s a deal-breaker.


Some examples of do-able issues might be a restaurant with falling numbers but an ineffective and disgruntled waitstaff that could easily be replaced, thereby turning customer service reviews around. Or perhaps a retail business that has zero online presence and no marketing plan to speak of that you could make profitable with some marketing savvy and a good website.


A deal-breaker issue, on the other hand, might be finding out during due diligence that you would be inheriting an $80,000 debt that the seller tried to conceal.


While searching for a business, remember that the past records of a business are just that, they’re the past, and the future of the business and what you could do with it are up for grabs. Just like in the home renovation shows, it’s not the house at the beginning of the renovation that counts, it’s the finished product that matters.


A creative buyer with some decent marketing know-how can turn around a less-than-ideal business in short order if they have a decent plan in place. By applying your personal strengths and experiences you can make many businesses fit with the goal you would like to achieve.


Just remember that there is no such thing as the perfect business, so keep an open mind and keep your must-have list short.


Are you looking at buying a business, but you can’t seem to find one that fits with your goals? Do you think your must-have list might be too long? Do you have questions about what issues are do-able and what issues are deal-breakers? Ask us! Leave a comment or question here, and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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Buyer Discretion: Why You Need To Prevent Catastrophe

When new buyers enter the business market, there’s a common frustration – confidentiality.


You are about to spend a very large amount of money – so you will obviously want to know everything about the businesses you are considering, and you want to know it now.


The problem here? Business sales don’t quite work that way. There’s a need for discretion and confidentiality.



Why does everything have to be such a big secret?


Confidentiality has to stay in place in order to protect the business. If employees, vendors, clients or the competition find out a business is for sale, it can mean big problems for the bottom line. Employees quit, vendors cancel contracts, clients go elsewhere and the competition can move in for the kill.


Why should a buyer care about confidentiality?


One of the reasons buyers have an issue with confidentiality is it doesn’t seem like something benefits them – it only seems to be in place to protect a seller and the business itself. It’s not. Think of confidentiality this way, you don’t want the business you buy to be in complete turmoil the day you take over, so keeping a tight lid on the for-sale status will be key.


The best way to illustrate why confidentiality is such a massive deal is with an example of what can happen if confidentiality is breached.


A buyer is very interested in a listing for a small restaurant in a downtown location. The buyer gets in contact with the listing broker and signs the necessary non-disclosure agreement. The listing broker then reviews the “rules of the road” – the buyer may not speak to employees, share any financial information, or tell anyone that the business is for sale. The buyer agrees. Since he now knows the name and physical location of the business, he goes in for lunch and asks to speak with the manager. He asks the manager why she thinks the business is up for sale and then asks for a tour of the kitchen. The manager, a key employee, had no idea that the business was on the market. She immediately runs into the kitchen to ask the head chef if he knew anything about the business being up for sale, which, of course, he did not. In the panic this buyer has now caused, both the manager and the head chef quit to find more stable work.  Now the business has lost it’s two most important employees and has been left in a seriously vulnerable position.


As you can see, the confidentiality of a business sale is extremely important. This buyer seriously damaged the seller’s business, and he didn’t have to do very much to cause all of this upheaval.


As a buyer, you will be expected to maintain confidentiality all the way up to the closing table. This is critical to the survival of the business and to the sale. The non-disclosure agreements you sign are there for a reason and are absolutely enforceable. If you disclose the business sale to an inappropriate party, you can face legal repercussions.


These rules are in place to protect the businesses you are trying to buy. Do your future business favor and keep confidentiality in place!


Are you a business buyer who has questions about confidentiality in the business market? Ask us! Leave a comment or question here, and we will be happy to address any questions you have.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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Why You Have To Go With The Flow – The Importance Of Transaction Protections


If you are in the early stages of buying a business you will notice that the process of buying a business is unlike the process to buy anything else. You have to sign non-disclosure agreements. You have to provide financial statements. You have to disclose your full name and physical home address – all before you can even find out what the name of any business is. If it seems a little intrusive, you aren’t alone in feeling that way. Many first-time business buyers feel that way too. We get it, but your disclosure of a very small amount of information is about to give you access to potentially business-ending information. It’s more than a fair trade off.


What’s business ending about finding out the name of a business you might want to buy?


Existing businesses depend on the confidentiality of the business transaction process to protect themselves.


From what? Damaging misconceptions.


When the average person hears that a business is for sale, they automatically assume that said business is for sale because something is catastrophically wrong. Why would anyone sell a great business, right? Now imagine what the staff think. Am I about to be out of a job? Is the place I work going out of business? If we get a new owner will they fire everyone?


A business who has their for-sale status disclosed to the wrong people by a breach of confidentiality may face devastating consequences. The entire staff can quit en-masse. Regular clientele can find somewhere else to go. Vendors can cancel key contracts. Competitors can move in for the kill.


To protect businesses from these consequences everyone in a business transaction must agree to hold the for-sale status of the business secret for the duration of the business transaction. As a buyer, you will be required to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that say this, and carry with them legal repercussions if you breach confidentiality. A non-disclosure agreement gets tied to an individual by using that person’s legal name and physical address. There might be 10 guys named John Smith in your town, but there’s only one John Smith who lives at 123 Main Street.


After you sign the NDA, you will be given access to not only the name and location of the business – you will also be given access to information like proprietary business practices, tax returns, contracts, employee records and the like. A seller is trusting you with a huge amount of potentially damaging information (if it fell into the wrong hands), so divulging who you are and where you live is more than a fair trade off.


In some cases a seller or the commercial landlord will require financial statements as well. These are used to prove that you have the financial means to buy the business and you aren’t just kicking tires. Again, providing proof of financial means pales in comparison to the amount of information your cooperation with the process gives you access to.


It can be tempting to fight transaction protections by trying to alter NDAs or by refusing to provide financial disclosures. Don’t. NDAs are standard in this industry and can not be changed. Refusing to sign one or demanding changes before you do will result in business brokers and business sellers refusing to work with you. The same goes for those who want to be cagey about providing financial disclosures. Refusing to cooperate with the process means your business transaction is over. Period. The business transaction process exists to protect the businesses that are changing hands, and every step in that process is a tried and true way to keep everyone in the deal protected. 


You wouldn’t want a business you hope to buy destroyed by the careless buyer who came before you, or by a future buyer when you decide to sell – so everyone has to play along in order for the business transaction process to work as intended. Be prepared to cooperate, and the process will work for everyone – including you.


Are you looking at businesses and want to know more about the transaction process? Do you have questions about the NDA? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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Do I Have Enough Money To Buy A Business? The Answer Might Surprise You


Do you have enough? When you’re considering buying your first business, this is probably the first question you will ask yourself. Why? There’s an unhelpful preconceived notion that you need millions and millions to buy a successful business. Guess what? You don’t.


Business prices can vary greatly, even within the same industry. If you are interested in buying a restaurant, for instance, you could get a small neighborhood sandwich shop for $50,000 – or you could shoot for a large waterfront steakhouse that could run you $500,000.


How are businesses priced?

Businesses are priced based on a few factors – namely how much money they earn (cash flow), the value of things like vehicles/equipment/furnishings and the value of the current inventory. There are other factors that also play into pricing, like how much comparable businesses have recently sold for, how many years the business has been open – the list goes on. When you first enter the business market it is a great idea to use the advice of an experienced and qualified business broker because they will be able to both explain how a particular business has been priced and also advise you on whether the business is potentially worth what the sellers are asking.


How do I actually buy a business?

In the business world cash is king. Most first-time buyers, however, are not coming to the market with large amounts of cash to spend. If you don’t have a ton of cash available then a very large manufacturing business that lists in the millions is probably not for you. There are, however, smaller businesses that can run under $30,000. What you end up spending will depend on what type and size of business would fit with your goals and also what you can afford.


What if I have almost no cash available, can’t I just get financing? Yes and no. Buying a business is nothing like buying a car. You can’t walk in with no money down and walk out with the keys. There are a few financing options available to business buyers, but it is important to understand from the start that you will need a fair down payment for any business with any financing option. No one is going to finance 100% of a business purchase.


There are a few traditional lending options – like bank loans – but for the most part you will have an incredibly hard time getting any bank to finance a small business purchase. 


The Small Business Administration (SBA) has some funding available, but much like traditional lending these loans are often hard to get. A business must meet a rather stringent set of criteria and then the buyer themselves will also have to meet SBA’s buyer criteria.


The last and most common financing option is something called seller financing. In this scenario the seller finances a portion of the purchase price to be paid back by the buyer over time. If you are looking to this option then you as a buyer will have to bring some capital to the table in the form of a down payment. For a seller a large down payment shows good faith that a buyer is serious about getting to a closing table. For buyers, a seller who is willing to hold a note like this is a good sign. It means the seller has confidence in the future of the business.


No matter how you end up buying a business – be it cash or financing – the most important point is to have realistic expectations and seek some sound advice.


When you first talk to your business broker, be honest about the amount of capital you will actually be able to bring to the table. Dishonesty here will eventually come out as you will be asked to prove how much capital you have as a deal progresses. Also be honest with your broker about what you are looking to get out of buying a business – if you just want to be your own boss, if you want a flexible schedule or if you want to follow a passion you’ve always had. With the amount of money you have and the goals you have in mind an experienced broker should be able to find you businesses that will meet with both what you have and what you need.


Are you a first-time buyer who has more questions about how businesses are priced? Would you like to know how much of a down payment you would need? Please ask us! Leave a question here, and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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The Pre-Closing Panic: How Business Buyers And Sellers Can Avoid Disaster

A business changing hands is a big deal. One side is selling their blood, sweat and tears. The other is writing a very big check and stepping into the unknown. It can be scary. Really scary.


What happens more often than not is one or both sides start to panic as the closing date approaches – and when that happens tempers can flare and perfectly good deals can fall apart.



How do you avoid a pre-closing disaster? Know that it’s coming and mentally prepare.




If you are selling your business, it can be difficult to remain objective and unoffended when a buyer gets antsy and starts questioning everything about your business. We get that. Repeat questions, constant requests for renegotiation, attempts to lower the offer, demands for new issues that have already been dealt with and the like would make anyone angry – even angry enough to pull out of the deal.


What you should know going in is these things are probably going to happen. There are very few buyers who don’t get cold feet as the contract winds towards closing, and those cold feet can cause a buyer to do some pretty weird things. They are going to try to find a way to back out of the deal – not because they really want to, but because their nerves got the better of them.


Whatever your buyer is doing or demanding at the end, take a step back and think about where the panic behavior is coming from. Are they just freaking out? Have they really found an insurmountable issue with your business, or are they trying to give themselves a reason to back out because they’re scared? You don’t have to bend to their every demand, but you do need to have some patience and be ready for this inevitable last-minute buyer anxiety. 



If you are a buyer, know going in that you are probably going to be really nervous increasingly so as the date for writing that big check approaches.


You are absolutely entitled to all of the information you need before you sign on the dotted line and buy a business – that’s what the due diligence period is for. You need to utilize that time for due diligence to go through all of the information you request, ask good questions, discuss any issues you uncover with your business broker, your spouse, your transaction attorney, etc. and make an educated decision based on all of that information. Once you’ve made that decision – don’t second guess yourself.


Feeling anxious about a big decision is totally normal – letting that anxiety override an educated decision is far from productive. If you are days away from closing and are feeling like you’re making a mistake – go back and talk to the people you talked to during the due diligence process, like your business broker, your spouse and your transaction attorney. Go over your worries and work through why you are suddenly feeling like you don’t want to go through with the deal. It is nerves, or is it really an insurmountable problem? If you’ve made it all the way through due diligence without finding a deal-killing problem, it’s probably just nerves. Don’t talk yourself out of a great new opportunity.


The message? It’s the last minute panic that causes the issues. Big decisions might feel like they require a big leap of faith – but the reality is the decisions you’ve made during your business transaction have been made based on facts, no leap of faith was required. Trust your gut, be patient with the other side and remember that nerves can only cause issues if you let them. 


Do you have questions about how to deal with a panicking buyer? Would you like to know more about how due diligence works? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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Problems? How Business Buyers Can Spot Issues


If you are looking at businesses to buy, then the first things you will encounter that will tell you about the business are the financial records – likely a P&L and/or tax returns.


While financial records can tell you a great deal about the stability and health of a business – there are some other less obvious ways to determine how a business is really doing.



Watch The Owner

Some owners mentally check out the moment they list their business, some mentally checked out long ago. Owners who are consistently late to meetings, consistently sluggish on answering questions or constantly procrastinating with requested information are probably that way in the day to day operations of their business. A business with an owner who habitually doesn’t stay on top of things probably isn’t in the best shape.


How does the owner treat you when you visit? If they are condescending or rude to a potential buyer – someone who may write them an enormous check in the near future, then they are probably even worse to their employees, vendors and customers.



Read Reviews

You might need to take these with a grain of salt, especially if it is a business with only a handful of reviews. The internet creates a veil of anonymity that some use to blast businesses for almost no slight at all. Some people just love to complain.


What reviews should you take seriously? If a business has 300 reviews and 80% are horrible, then there is definitely an issue. If there are only a few reviews that seem to be written by chronic complainers – but they all follow the same vein, like terrible customer service from wait staff, then that can give you a pretty good idea of what you’ll need to change the moment you get the keys.



Watch For A Mess

When you tour a business, you can find out very quickly if the current owner is someone who excels at attention to detail. A business that is filthy or has equipment in various stages of disrepair is probably lacking ownership attention in other non-physical areas of the business as well.


When you are in the market to buy a business, don’t just rely on the financial numbers when deciding whether to purchase or how much to offer. You can use other indicators, like owner behavior or the state of equipment, to determine if the business is right for the price and for the goals you are hoping to achieve.


If you are looking for a business that is more of a fixer-upper – then bad reviews, poor cleanliness and a disconnected owner might be good signs that you will be able to negotiate for a price that leaves you the capital you’ll need to turn it around. If you are looking for more of a turn-key business, then you’ll want to find the non-financial aspects of the business in good shape.




Do you have questions about other non-financial clues you should be watching for when considering businesses to buy? Do you have one that we didn’t mention that you’d like to share? Please leave your questions and comments – we would be happy to help!




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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The Long Wait – When Sellers Drag Their Feet

As business brokers this has to be one of the most frustrating aspects of the job.


You have a motivated buyer who is very interested in a particular business and a decent offer is on the table. You request that the seller send over the information required for due diligence, like financial records, tax returns, etc.


Then you wait. And you wait.



Then the seller sends over partial records, which you forward to your buyers, but the rest of the information your buyers requested has yet to be produced. So you wait.


You get constant calls and emails from your buyers, and all you can tell them is you haven’t received the information from the seller so your hands are tied. The inevitable conclusion of this situation is the deal will fall apart and the buyer will move on.


Why does this happen?


Some sellers go on the market with the initial intention of selling, but once they are in the process, they realize

  1. that it can require a lot of work on their part to produce information and be available for questions/meetings, and
  2. they are shortly going to be out of a job


This can cause some sellers to develop a decent case of cold feet. It can also cause a seller to be defensive, as constant requests for more financial information can give the impression that the buyer is trying to dig up dirt on the business.


This, of course, is not the case. Buying a business is a huge decision, and most buyers are going to want a thorough look at any business before they pull the trigger.


What if the problem isn’t the seller? Could the problem be the broker?


If your broker is really good about answering your questions, is prompt with returning phone calls and emails and has been forthcoming about the issues they may be having with the other sidethen their hands are probably are tied. If it takes your broker ten days to return your phone calls, then yes, the problem is likely the broker.


As with everything in a business transaction, a good dose of patience will go a long way. This does not mean, however, that you have to sit around and wait for a seller to deliver information they have no intention of ever giving you. Talk to your broker if you have concerns about time frame issues, and understand that sometimes there really isn’t anything a broker can do to speed up the process.


Are you a buyer who is having a hard time getting information out of sellers? Do you have questions about whether the issue may be with your current broker and not with the seller? Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to assist you.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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Don’t Be Disengaged: Why This Buyer Spells Disaster

Buying a business is a big deal. You are embarking on a whole new life, have a ton to learn and an exciting new road ahead – a road that takes a lot of planning, preparation and hard work.


What can sometimes confound business brokers, business sellers and even some buyers is a relatively rare but alarmingly destructive force – the disengaged buyer.



What’s a disengaged buyer?


Someone who waltzes into the business buying process with nonchalance – they don’t take anything seriously.


They miss conference calls. They’re chronically late for appointments. They let license applications sit on their desk unfinished. They don’t show up for training with the seller, or they show up and act like they could care less. Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it?


Frustration isn’t the only issue. This level of apathy can be destructive as well.


It alienates the seller. It angers the commercial landlord. It hampers the ability to run the business because licensing requirements have not been met.


Sure, some of the business buying process is tedious. Some of your training will seem unnecessary. Red tape and paperwork are boring. We get it. Guess what? Nonchalance on your part can (and probably will) cause irreparable harm to your business ownership goals.




All those conference calls and meetings are crucial to your success. You can’t know if a business is going to be right for you if you haven’t asked the right questions.


Licensing requirements are an absolute necessity – and they can take time. Time that is out of your control because the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. You need to get going on applications as soon as is feasible and you need to stay on top of all the bureaucratic red tape before it has a chance to strangle your new business venture.


Your training period is critical to your success. You need to take every single moment of training seriously and try to gain every bit of knowledge you can from your seller. They’ve already worked through the pitfalls that you will face, and their knowledge will help you avoid them.


The relationships you have with your seller and your commercial landlord can make or break your transition to business ownership. If you alienate the seller, they are much less likely to take training you seriously – and you’d better believe they’ll stop taking your calls as soon as the training period is over. An angry landlord can refuse to transfer the lease, raise the rent, etc. Preserving those relationships by being respectful of everyone’s time and effort will go a long way on ensuring your success.


Do yourself and your future business a favor – BE ENGAGED.


Are you thinking about buying a business and want to know more about how to maintain important relationships throughout the purchase process? Would you like to know more about licensing requirements? Do you have questions about how the training period works? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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Are You A No-Offer Business Buyer? How To Be Taken Seriously

If you’ve been looking for a business to buy for a while, you may have run into a problem that some buyers encounter – no one will take you seriously.


Maybe it’s your broker or the seller’s brokers that you have come across, maybe it’s the sellers themselves. Whoever it is, they don’t look at you as someone who is serious about buying a business. What they see is someone who is on an eternal search, and therefore someone who isn’t worth their time and energy.


How can you prove them wrong and show that you are a serious buyer? Make an offer.



“I don’t want to make an offer on every business I look at.”


Of course you don’t, and you shouldn’t. What we mean here is if you are seriously considering a business, the only way to know for sure if the business is going to fit your goals is to get to the due diligence process. In this process, you are allowed an in-depth look at all aspects of the business, from financial statements to contracts – then you can decide if it really is the right business for you.


“If I make an offer, I’m stuck with that business whether I like it or not, right?”


Absolutely not. If, during the due diligence phase you come across a reason why you don’t want the business – you will have the opportunity to back out of the deal before anyone reaches the closing table. The system is designed this way because businesses are inherently complex, so your ability to get a good look at what you’re purchasing is part of the process. Then and only then do you have to make a final decision about buying.


If you’ve been looking at businesses for an extended period of time without even entertaining the idea of making an offer, then don’t be surprised if brokers don’t take you seriously.


There are plenty of “tire-kicker” buyers out there who inquire about countless businesses – over enormous amounts of time – without ever making the move to buy one. On the other hand, serious entrepreneurs come on the scene with goals in mind, do a targeted search of available businesses, then make offers.


If you were working in the business market or trying to sell your own business, who would you take more seriously?


Are you a buyer who has trouble getting sellers to take you seriously? Do you have additional questions about why it is a good idea to put an offer on the table? Please leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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Do You Have Enough Capital? The Big Question For Buyers

When the dream is owning your own business, you have a lot of questions.


A big one is “how much money do I need to buy a business?


There’s an issue with this question. The issue is the answer – it depends.



It depends on what type of business would be right for you. 

Many new business owners walk into the business market under the mistaken assumption that anyone can own and run any type of business. Nothing could ever be farther from the truth. To keep your new business profitable, you will need to be able to both navigate and compete in the market you are in. If you have little to no relevant experience in your business, there is likely no way for you to stay competitive. To avoid this pitfall you should look for businesses in industries where you have practical experience. By staying with what you know you will avoid the potentially catastrophic learning curve that comes with learning a new business and a new industry at the same time. 

Every industry is going to have options in terms of price. There will be some larger, well-established – and thus highly priced businesses as wells as smaller, more affordable businesses with room for growth. Focus first on the type of business, then look at price.


It depends on how much capital you have available, and how you allocate that capital.

Do you have enough money ready and available to buy and run a business? You should really have at least 50% of a purchase price if a seller is offering seller financing, and all cash or third-party financing already in place if seller financing is off the table. You need to allow for not only the purchase price, but all of the other costs involved in a business sale – like fees for licensing and money available to keep the business running until you are able to start turning a profit at the helm.

Be honest with your business broker about how much capital you have available for your new venture and then listen to their advice about what you can reasonably afford.


It depends on what your goal for business ownership is.

Are you looking to invest almost all of your capital in order to buy a well-established, highly profitable business – or are you looking to hang onto more of your funds and buy a business that has lots of room for growth? You will likely have to work a bit harder in the second scenario, but you will have the benefit of having enough funds to ride out any issues that you come across.

You will have to decide what you want your day to day life to look like, and discuss those desires with you business broker.


The message here is there’s more to look at than just the price of a business. You need to figure out your goals, look for industries where you can be successful and then decide how you’d like to allocate the money you have available.


Are you thinking about buying a business? Do you have questions about seller financing and the best type of business for you? Ask us! Leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help you on your business ownership journey.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242




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Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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