What Can You Realistically Afford? Thoughts For Business Buyers

We all have big dreams. A bigger house. A nicer car. Lavish vacations. Your own private island. What keeps these wonderful flights of fancy in the realm of dreams is the fact that we just can’t (currently) make them happen.

 

 

Big dreams can become a big problem in the small business market. Why?

 

New buyers will often consider businesses that are completely out of their price range – like drastically so.

 

Why do many new business buyers have unrealistic expectations? It may be, in part, because of the way people buy homes.

 

When you go into a bank to get a mortgage, you might walk out with a pre-approval for $750,000. Does that mean you have $750,000 in the bank in cash? Nope. It just means the bank is willing to loan you that amount because they can take back your new house as collateral if you don’t pay them back.

 

Small business transactions don’t work that way. There are financing options if you don’t have a huge amount of cash available – but that financing is very different than what you see in the housing market. You might be able to get a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) or from the seller of the business via seller financing – but no matter where you get your loan you are going to have to put up a large down payment and prove that you have the capital to both get through the transaction process and sustain yourself as the new owner of the business.

 

What do we mean by that? The business buying process can be expensive. If you get a loan from the SBA, they are going to require an appraisal of the business – one you as the buyer have to pay for. There are application fees for SBA, as well as application and licensing costs associated with the licensing requirements for your new business. If your future business is in a commercial space, your new landlord is going to want first-last-security and to see your financials to assure them you can not only pay those initial costs, but be able to pay your rent going forward. You might need capital for payroll in the first few weeks or months. The list can be long and pricey.

 

This doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your dream of buying your own business. It just means you need to be realistic with what you can afford. If you only have $50,000 to spend, you shouldn’t even look at a business that is $750,000. It can’t happen. What you can do is find an affordable business that you can grow. Smaller, more affordable businesses can be very successful – and have lots of room for that all-important growth.  

 

If you want to know what you can realistically afford, ask an experienced and qualified business broker. They can look at your current financial situation, your goals for business ownership and your previous experience – then assist you with finding the right business to buy. The right business will both meet your goals and keep you from extending yourself beyond what is currently financially possible.

 

Have you always wanted to buy a business but aren’t sure what you could afford? Would you like to know what types of businesses are currently on the market in your price range? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Right Advice At The Right Time: The Role Of Attorneys In Your Business Transaction

Let’s start this one off by saying we are absolutely not advocating an attorney-free business deal. A business transaction involves contracts that you will need to sign and a lot of money changing hands – so the assistance of an attorney is absolutely necessary.

 

 

Business transactions, however, are also inherently very complex and businesses themselves involve a decent amount of risk. If buying a business gave you a 100% chance of getting a fabulous return on your investment then that’s what everyone would do. Buying and running a business means a fair share of risk and plenty of hard work.

 

Before you bring your attorney into the mix (which you will definitely need to do), ask yourself this important question – what do they do for a living? They protect you from any and all risk.

 

It is impossible for your attorney to keep you from any and all risk and also give you a thumbs up on a business. It is because of this conflict between what a lawyer does for a living and what you are trying to do (buy or sell a business) that we are suggesting that you keep their advice to only the portions of your deal that they specialize in.

 

What do we mean by this?

 

Your attorney doesn’t need to be giving you advice about price. Determining what a business is worth in the current market isn’t what they do. They don’t know how to derive value from cash flow or how to price a business based on what comparable businesses have actually sold for.

 

Your attorney shouldn’t have a major role in negotiations. At the end of the day, a deal is happening between the buyer and the seller. These two parties will have a tough time coming to a consensus – even when using intermediaries like business brokers who act as buffers. Adding more voices and opinions to the mix by having attorneys intimately entwined in the negotiations might mean no deal will ever be reached. It becomes a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario.

 

I get why my attorney might cause problems, so what should I use them for?

 

Again, your attorney will be instrumental in putting together contracts and advising you of your risks in association with these contracts. You should absolutely listen to what they have to say in regards to these parts of a business transaction that are very much their specialty. You should listen to their advice, weigh what they have to say based on the fact that their job is to protect you from risk – and then use common sense to make up your own mind about what you should do.

 

A note here. You should also be using a business transaction attorney for this role. Your family law attorney (for example) isn’t going to understand your business contracts the way a business transaction attorney does. It would be like going to the pediatrician to get plastic surgery – it isn’t what they do. Finding and using a business transaction attorney with some experience in this very unique process will be pivotal to success.

 

Keeping a business transaction as simple as possible is the only way to successfully navigate a process that is inherently complex. Use each advisor for the role where their advice is the most appropriate and you will have a far better chance of transaction success.

 

Are you a buyer or seller who wants to have their attorney involved in everything? Do you have more questions about why this might be a problem? Ask us! Leave any comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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All The Way To The Finish Line – Why You Need A Great Broker

 

Both parties have agreed on the purchase contract, you’re finished – right?

 

Not quite, and if you have a business broker who isn’t going to push your deal all the way to the finish line – then your deal could be in trouble. 

 

A contract does not mean the deal is done, it just means one step in the process has been completed. We have a very high closure rate once our deals get to contract – 70-80%, but most business brokers can’t get anywhere near that number.

 

Why?

 

Once the contract piece of the puzzle is done, many brokers walk away and let the deal fend for itself. They let things like licensing, SBA loan issues and follow-thru with details fall by the wayside – and when this happens a minor issue can become a major deal-breaker in no time.

 

A transaction isn’t closed until it’s closed.

 

Why would any broker let this happen? Once the contract is put together, most brokers think that their work is done, but the last few details are often the most important. Our process is different because we do an immense amount of pre-due diligence. We have all of the ducks in a row and have rooted out and dealt with many of the issues that come up at the end long before they become potential deal killers. Then, we don’t stop until the deal is done.

 

Let’s focus on just one of the often-overlooked last-minute details to give you an example of the importance of getting all those final ducks in a row:

 

If you as a buyer have no idea what the licensing requirements are for the business you are about to take over, how can you possibly have all of those requirements complete on the day you get handed the keys? Any business transaction means that at the very least all licensing must be transferred from the old owner to the new, and many of these licenses come with an inspection requirement that needs to be fulfilled before the business can serve customers. What does that mean if you don’t complete the necessary applications and inspections before the day you take over? You can’t open the doors until they are all complete, so having a broker who is on top of issues like licensing will be crucial for a successful transaction.

 

If you are a seller who offered seller financing, then it is in your best interest for the transition to the new owner to go smoothly. An incomplete licensing, permitting or inspection requirement will put the transition and the future of the business in jeopardy (meaning you won’t be able to get paid). Having a broker who is proactive on the licensing front (and all other fronts, for that matter) will mean a more successful transition to the new ownership and a far better chance for the new owner to find success right out of the gate.

 

Ask your broker how many of their deals make it to closing once the contract step has been reached. Their answer to this question will tell you all you need to know about their follow-through and whether or not you’ll be able to make it to the closing table.

 

Are you buying a business and want to know more about the process to transfer licenses? Are you selling your business and would like to know what aspects of your transaction will need to be followed all the way to the end? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we will be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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Buying A Business? How Much Of A Project Do You Want?

If you are in the market to buy a business – you probably already have a bit of an idea what you want. A dream industry, a long-sought location or a passion project turned entrepreneurial goal. 

 

 

Ok, great – you know what you want. That’s step number one. Now, the questions get a bit harder.

 

Once you enter the business search process, you will likely find a number of businesses that might be a good match. How do you decide which one is the right one?

 

Here’s where a big factor comes in, one you may not have considered.

 

How big of a project do you want? 

 

What do we mean by that? Like anything in an open market, businesses can run the gambit from wildly successful and exquisitely organized to lightly congealed and barely successful. Circumstances from even the far ends of the spectrum could end up a great buy for a particular buyer you just need to decide where you want to fall on that spectrum. A wildly successful and exquisitely organized business is going to probably cost a lot up front – but you won’t have as much of a project to contend with. Similarly, the opposite end of the spectrum will get you a business for a great price – but you might need to do a lot to get that business to a good place.

 

To decide where you fall on that spectrum, think about what your goals are for business ownership. If you have a bit more capital to invest and are looking for something stable – look for businesses that have great numbers, great reviews and many years of existence. If your goal is to make the most of your money and you like a challenge, then something nearer the barely successful end of the spectrum might be right for you. A bit of effort – some re-branding, a few staffing and protocol changes, perhaps some remodeling, a marketing plan, retooling of customer service – these are the things you may have to do to get a red-line business back in the black. An entrepreneur who wants a serial-entrepreneur lifestyle (one where you buy a faltering business, grow it to a certain metric and then sell for a profit before finding your next venture) would be well-suited for this lower end of the spectrum.

 

How can you decide how much of a project you want? Think about what will make you happy day-to-day.

 

Do you want to just go to work and keep it simple, or are you someone who would be bored with that and needs a challenge? Once you decide, talk to an experienced and qualified business broker. Discuss the amount of capital you are willing and able to invest, as well as your optimal project-level. They will be able to take this information and find businesses that will be a good fit.

 

Are you considering buying a business but hadn’t considered how much of a project you are willing to take on? Do you need help finding a business that will fit with your goals for business ownership? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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Are You Being Ignored? 3 Ways A Business Buyer Can Stand Out From The Crowd

 

There are a lot of potential business buyers out there. So many, in fact, that around 90% of people who talk to brokers and sellers about purchasing a business never do. What does this litany of tire-kickers mean to the 10% of buyers who actually want to and will buy a business? It can be really difficult to get anyone to take you seriously. 

 

How do you pull away from the pack and let the other side know you’re for real?

 

Be Upfront

Business brokers get calls every day from prospective buyers, but what you as a buyer need to realize is the 90% have muddied the waters. Most business brokers aren’t going to give you the time of day if it appears to them like you aren’t serious – it isn’t worth their effort or energy. Your initial conversations with a broker will be a vetting of sorts, where you will be asked about the amount of capital you have available to invest in a business, your work experience and your goals for business ownership. If you are evasive or vague with your answers, it will immediately send up red flags for the broker. Someone who is serious about buying a business will be forthcoming with the amount of capital they have because it would be foolish not to. They will also be willing to talk about their experience and goals because that’s the only way a broker can really help someone get the right business. Why would you waste your time as a buyer looking at businesses you could never afford or are completely ill-prepared to own?

 

Don’t Drag Your Feet

One of the most important qualities an entrepreneur must have to be successful is the ability to be decisive. Eternal back-and-forth “I want this business, I don’t want this business” conversations will never get you any closer to your goals of business ownership. It will also do nothing but frustrate the sellers and brokers involved. Once you have the necessary information, make a decision and stick to it.

 

Be Realistic

There is no such thing as the perfect business, so constantly passing on businesses because they didn’t have perfectly organized records or because the decor didn’t suit your style means you aren’t really sure you want to buy a business. You are buying cash flow, not furnishings and paint colors, so you need to be looking at businesses from a big-picture perspective. You also need to make realistic offers. Coming in with an absurdly low offer tells the seller you have no interest in a real negotiation, and if the offer is bad enough you stand the chance that the seller will refuse to work with you at all.

 

The message here is if you are serious about buying a business, then you need to take the process seriously and show the brokers and sellers involved that you are ready and willing to put together a realistic deal. By showing your intentions through your actions, you will be able to differentiate yourself from the sea of buyers who will never make it to business ownership.

 

Are you looking at businesses to buy and it feels like no one is taking you seriously? Would you like to know how to put yourself in the 10% category? Please ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help. 

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Paperwork Series: The Licensing For Business Buyers

Buying a business is no small task, and many first-time buyers are initially intimidated by the paperwork required to make a sale happen.

 

The good news is the paperwork, contracts and red tape required for buying a business are totally do-able.

 

You just need to stay on top of requirements, have patience and have the right help.

 

 

The last (and possibly the most aggravating) part of the paperwork you will come across in a business transaction has to do with the licensing involved when starting or running a business.

 

A very important note on licensing – you absolutely must have all your licensing in place before you take over as owner of the business. Any procrastination on your part will probably lead to major issues. Any procrastination on your business broker’s part could also be a problem. Any good business broker should be helping their buyers wade through the paperwork jungle. Some brokers leave their clients high and dry, postponing important licensing issues until the last minute. Your broker should be helping you get the information necessary to get the proper licenses and permits. If they aren’t, you might need to find better help.

 

Your licensing requirements will depend on where the business is located, what goods or services it provides and your role in the business itself. For example, a small pizza shop that does not serve alcohol will have to comply with licensing requirements from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants but not the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. If you are buying a contracting business, you may need to have the appropriate contractor license for your state. Each state, county and city will also require specific licensing requirements depending on what the business is and where it is located in relation to state, county and city boundaries.

 

Just like all of the other paperwork requirements we have discussed in previous articles – this is a great example of when a business broker is worth their weight in gold. As we already mentioned, any good broker should be helping you with licensing requirements or referring you to a licensing professional. They should also be advising you on when each part of the licensing process should be started and when it needs to be complete.

 

If you don’t want to pay the fees of a licensing professional, you should know that it is absolutely possible to do your own licensing – but it will take a good dose of patience and plenty of perseverance.

 

The best advice is to get all of the necessary licensing information from the seller (through your broker) and then go through each licensing requirement one at a time. You should print all applications regardless of whether or not you will be submitting them online as many government agencies have time-out procedures on their websites (so if you take too long to fill out your application online it will time-out and you will have to start over). Printing the applications allows you to fill everything out beforehand so you don’t have timing issues. You should also have everything in printed form and kept together because in many cases an application will require approval and signatures from multiple agencies – so it is best to take everything with you.

 

You should also understand that all government agencies are very large bureaucracies, and as such the red tape involved can be extensive and open to interpretation. What do we mean by “open to interpretation”? If you have a question on one part of a specific application, you might call one day to get an answer. The next day, when you speak to someone else in the same office, you might get a completely different answer. Although frustrating, this difference in opinion is totally normal. Just follow the instructions of the government agent you are currently dealing with, and try to deal with that one specific person every time (not always possible).

 

The best way to deal with licensing? Ask questions, lean on the experience of your business broker and stay on top of deadlines.

 

Do you have more questions about the licensing requirements in a business sale? Would you like to know more about what’s included? Ask us! Feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Paperwork Series: The Commercial Lease For Business Buyers

Buying a business is no small task, and many first-time buyers are initially intimidated by the paperwork required to make a sale happen.

 

The good news is the paperwork, contracts and red tape required for buying a business are totally do-able.

 

You just need to stay on top of requirements, have patience and have the right help.

 

 

As you near your closing date, you will also be nearing the day when you sign your commercial lease. Almost all business transactions are for the business itself – not for the associated real estate, so in almost all cases you will be dealing with a commercial lease when you buy a business. The timing for signing your commercial lease will be one of the clauses mentioned in your purchase contract.

 

Navigating the negotiation of a commercial lease and acting as a buffer between buyers and typically difficult property managers is yet another example of why a good business broker is instrumental in the success of a sale.

 

Property managers are difficult by nature because it is their job to protect the owner of the property from anyone who might not be able to pay the rent. Businesses, especially small businesses, are inherently very risky – so many property managers are hesitant to allow new owners to take over the lease at a location. You should expect a thorough vetting process, and should be prepared to disclose your financial statements and your resume. Your new landlord wants to make sure you have the experience necessary to keep the business successful and the capital to pay the rent during the transition to new ownership.

 

The inherent risk of small business also means you should expect that your lease will be essentially the same price as the lease the current seller is paying. Most property managers are not going to renegotiate for a much lower price. Why not? Keeping the current tenants at their current rate means more money for the property owner, so be ready to pay essentially the same rent (if not more).

 

Commercial leases are similar to the purchase contract because they are very extensive. You should review them carefully with your business broker and your business transaction attorney. Just like your purchase contract, any attorney unfamiliar with the business transaction process will be hesitant to advise you to sign a commercial lease simply because it is so extensive. Listen to the advice of your business broker and your business transaction attorney as they are best suited to advise you in this situation. Also be aware that most commercial leases are fairly standard, so although you may be able to negotiate some small parts of your lease – it will largely stay as it was for the original tenant.

 

Do you have more questions about the commercial lease in a business sale? Would you like to know more about what’s included? Ask us! Feel free to leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Paperwork Series: The Purchase Contract For Business Buyers

Buying a business is no small task, and many first-time buyers are initially intimidated by the paperwork required to make a sale happen.

 

The good news is the paperwork, contracts and red tape required for buying a business are totally do-able.

 

You just need to stay on top of requirements, have patience and have the right help.

 

 

After you have signed non-disclosure agreements and have had a chance to check out a few businesses, the next set of paperwork you will encounter will be your purchase contract.

 

What is a purchase contract?

 

When you find a business you really like, you will put together an initial offer with your business broker and present that offer to the sellers. This initial offer opens up the negotiating table, and after a bit of back and forth between both parties you will hopefully have your amended offer accepted by the sellers.

 

Your initial offer, once accepted, essentially becomes the purchase contract. This contract is basically a guide for what will happen during the transaction process.

 

What will it include?

 

It will vary from transaction to transaction because businesses are inherently complex and each one is very different from the next. Some basic items the purchase contract will cover? The price offered, the length of the due diligence period and the length and scope of training are a few of the things covered in your contract, but there will also be many more.

 

The complexity of this agreement is one of the major reasons the professional help of an experienced and qualified business broker is necessary for a successful transaction. Drawing up a purchase contract on your own could leave you in a lurch if you forget something critical.

 

An important point about seeking professional help with your purchase contract: your business transaction attorney could also help you with the purchase contract  – however, notice we said business transaction attorney. Your family law attorney or the attorney you used for a civil lawsuit are not going to understand a purchase contract the way a business transaction attorney would. Remember that an attorney’s sole purpose is to protect you from any and all risk – and all businesses come with an inherent amount of risk. This contradiction means it will be tough to properly advise you if your attorney has never been a part of a business transaction. The solution is to use the advice of a business transaction attorney and business broker instead.

 

Do you have more questions about the purchase contract in a business sale? Would you like to know more about what’s included? Ask us! Feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Paperwork Series: The NDA For Business Buyers

Buying a business is no small task, and many first-time buyers are initially intimidated by the paperwork required to make a sale happen.

 

The good news is the paperwork, contracts and red tape required for buying a business are totally do-able.

 

You just need to stay on top of requirements, have patience and have the right help.

 

 

We’ll start with the first paperwork you will come across, the non-disclosure agreement. This is an agreement you must sign in order to learn the name and physical location of a business that interests you.

 

Why do you have to sign it? When a seller puts their business on the market, the confidentiality of that for-sale status is crucial for protecting the business. When confidentiality is breached an entire staff can quit, vendors can cancel contracts and the competition may move in for the kill.

 

The non-disclosure agreement protects the confidentiality of the business by creating legal repercussions for a buyer who discloses the business inappropriately. You as a buyer can avoid these repercussions by keeping the information you are given to yourself and by following the instructions of your broker in regards to any financial documents or associated information you are given.

 

What if I don’t like a portion of the non-disclosure agreement? Can I cross out the portions I don’t like before I sign it? No, you can’t. Non-disclosure agreements are standard documents, and as such changes are not permitted.

 

If you are uncomfortable signing the non-disclosure, consider the reason it is needed. If you were selling your own business, you would want legal repercussions in place to protect that business. You wouldn’t be comfortable handing over sensitive and/or proprietary information to just anyone in that same way you probably wouldn’t be comfortable handing your personal tax return to the strange guy sitting next to you at a coffee shop.

 

You should discuss any reservations you have with your business broker, but understand that your refusal to sign a non-disclosure agreement will probably put a stop to your ability to buy a business.

 

Do you have more questions about the non-disclosure agreement and what it means for you as a buyer? Would you like to know more about the business buying process? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Business Buyer Questions: What Can I Afford?

 

What can you afford?

 

This is an important question, but a vastly more important question is…

 

What can you REALISTICALLY afford?

 

Anyone around for the real estate crash of 2008 knows that a major contributor to that disaster was people buying homes they had no business buying. Great big loans were common, and eager home buyers leapt at the chance to buy dream homes that were well out of realistic reach. 

 

While one would hope that we’ve all learned our lesson, there are many instances in the business market today where buyers make a 2008-esque mistake. They purchase a business they can’t realistically afford and guess what happens? Failure. Time and time again we’ve seen buyers bite off more than they can chew, use up all of their free capital and end up having to walk away six months after the closing table.

 

How do you protect yourself from this disaster?

 

Have a frank and honest conversation with your business broker when you start the business buying process. Your broker needs to know what funds you actually have available and what you are willing to risk. It should go without saying that you should be using as little of your free capital as possible for the purchase of your new business.

 

Why?

 

You are going to need cash available for a litany of things when you take over the helm. Payroll, inventory, licensing – there are day to day costs that will need to be paid in order for the business to continue running long enough for you to get profitable. 

 

What we’re trying to drive home here is if you have $100,000 available – don’t look at $100,000 businesses. Look for businesses well below your max budget so you leave yourself some financial wiggle room in your early days as owner. 

 

Are you currently looking for businesses to buy and want to know what you can realistically afford? Would you like to know more about how much free capital you should leave yourself? Ask us! Leave us any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

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Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242




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