Buying A Business? Commercial Lease 101

You’ve found a great business and are excited to start negotiations with the sellers – but here’s a thought you may not have considered. That’s not the only negotiating you’re going to have to do.


When you buy an existing business, you typically are not buying the physical space that the business occupies.


Most businesses come with a lease, and that lease comes with a landlord and/or property manager.



Most landlords accommodate transfers easily, but not all do. Deals can get hung up on the lease when the landlord refuses to grant the transfer or has decided to change the lease terms dramatically. They can also get hung up if you don’t start working on the transfer until the last minute. 


The most important thing you can do as a buyer is get your hands on a copy of the current lease as soon as possible, and then deal with any lease issues long before the day you are supposed to close your deal.


Once you have the lease, the language you would typically want to see is in the section of the lease that has to do with transfers or assignments of the lease. Does it say something along the lines of “any assignment will not be unreasonably withheld”? If it does, you are probably in good shape. This type of language means the landlord would have to come up with a very good reason to keep from transferring the lease to you.


Landlords, for the most part, are concerned with keeping a rental space filled and generating rental income. Some, however, are unwilling to reassign leases (at least initially).


This is a part of the business sale process where your business broker will be an invaluable asset. They can act as a buffer between you and a difficult landlord, and can help to negotiate your new lease or the reassignment of the old lease to keep the lease rates reasonable.


Another way to keep the lease from holding up your closing is to be forthcoming with your financial information when the landlord asks for it. Most landlords are going to want to see some kind of financial statement that proves you have the capital to keep the business open. It would be foolish for them to rent to a tenant who will be forced to close the business doors only a third of the way through the lease. Some landlords also want to see some kind of resume or work history to show you have the experience necessary to keep the business running and profitable.


You should also be aware that in some cases the rental rate will slightly increase from what the seller is currently paying when you get a new lease. You can negotiate a lease extension at the same rate, but eventually your new lease may come with a new rental rate. You will also be responsible for coming up with the deposits necessary for the lease.


The message here is your business won’t be much of a business if you can’t get a lease assigned to you for the space. Deal with lease issues early on and the won’t become a big headache in the end.


Are you a business buyer who has questions about business leases? Have you had a deal fall apart because of a difficult landlord? Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to assist you with any lease questions.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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Could Vs. Should – Buying A Business Without The Right Help

If you’ve ever bought a house or have even just rented an apartment, you know the importance of agents in those transactions. Your real estate agent or your rental agent helped you with locating potential properties, let you in to take a look around, assisted with your purchase or lease contract and was there throughout negotiations. While it is possible to buy a house on your own or rent your own apartment, it’s definitely easier with someone who knows what they’re doing by your side. When it comes to the small business market, the same will be true. It’s going to be much easier with help.


Business transactions are inherently very, very complex.


If you’ve never been through a business transaction before you are probably going to have an impossibly difficult time navigating everything that needs to happen. That’s where business brokers come in



A business broker is a transaction agent. Their job is to get a business sale from start to finish. They help buyers by guiding you through from you initial contact all the way past the closing table.


Your broker will talk to you about your goals for business ownership, the amount of capital you are able to invest, the areas where you would like your business to be located and your education/experience. Your broker will then help you with your business search, narrowing down the choices based on your feedback. Once you have found a business or two that interests you, you will sign nondisclosure agreements to gain access to the business name and some cursory financials. If you like these businesses your broker can schedule conference calls with the sellers as well as site visits when there are no employees or clients around. Your business broker will then help you write your offer which, if accepted, will become the purchase contract. The business brokers will act as buffers during negotiations between you and the seller – a very important role. They will also negotiate with your future commercial landlord and property manager to ensure you get a fair lease. Your broker will also help you with the licenses and permits required for you to take over as owner.


This is a big list – and it would be quite an undertaking for someone who has never been through it before. Very few business transactions go through successfully without help. An experienced and qualified business broker has not only been down this road many times before, but they know where the pitfalls are going to be and can help you avoid them. 


The message here? Could you buy a business without a business broker? Maybe. Should you? Definitely not.


Are you considering buying a business but aren’t convinced you need a business broker? Do you have more questions about what a business broker can do to help you throughout the transaction process? Please feel free to leave any comments or questions. We would be happy to help!




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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The Justifiable Offer: Why A Low-Ball Is A Bad Idea

You’ve done the searches. You’ve analyzed your options. You’ve done a few conference calls with sellers and you think you’ve found the right business for you. Your next step is a big one, and your decisions here can absolutely make or break your chances of buying this business. It’s time to make an offer.


Your offer is important for a number of reasons. The offer you put together (if accepted) will become the purchase contract. This contract will include not just the final sale price but many other parts of the transaction that will need to be negotiated. Think the length of your training period, the terms of the deal and how existing contracts will be assigned – just to name a few.


This all-important document essentially contains all the parts of your deal that will need to be negotiated. The fluid nature of an initial offer/purchase contract means the first version – your version – is just a place to start those negotiations. It should go without saying that you need to start off on the right foot. 



The relationship you have with the seller, although not a permanent one, will be critical to the success or failure of your transaction. You have to talk to this person, meet with this person, iron out a deal with this person and then most likely work side by side with this person during your training period.


This is not a relationship you want to start with a perceived slap in the face.


What do we mean by that? You do not want to low-ball a seller just to see how desperate they are or how great of a deal you can get. People who intentionally low-ball business sellers aren’t business buyers. They’re tire-kickers. Your initial offer speaks volumes to a seller about how serious you are and what it’s like to work with you. You are making a financial offer for something that seller has invested countless hours in, has spent years building and has made sacrifices to maintain. Yes, business transactions shouldn’t be emotionally driven, but in the small business market it really can’t be helped. No one wants their blood, sweat and tears treated like a cheap car.


What should you do instead?


Make a JUSTIFIABLE offer.


A justifiable offer is a simple concept – it’s something based in reality and backed up by data. You’ve looked at the numbers, you’ve considered the current market and you’ve come up with a number that makes sense – not the lowest, rock-bottom price you’d love but something you feel (based on the data you have) is fair.


Making a fair offer tells a seller that although you may not want to give them their full asking price, you are a person interested in making a deal happen. You are someone who values their business and all they’ve invested. 


How do I make sure my initial offer is fair? Talk to your business broker about what you’d like to offer, and then listen to their advice. They know the market, and can give you insight into whether or not the number you’ve come up with will be a good point to start negotiations.


The message here is simple. If you are serious about buying a business the best way to start your transaction is by making a fair and justifiable offer. 


Have you looked at businesses and want to know more about how sellers come up with their listing price? Do you have questions about what an initial offer/purchase contract entails? 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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Unexpected Problems: What To Do When Your New Business Gets Sticky

You’re a brand new business owner and you’ve successfully navigated the path of purchasing a business. You took your time and really delved in during due diligence. You paid close attention during training with the seller and took copious notes. You’re pretty sure you’ve got the hang of this new business, and that you know everything about it.



Until you don’t.


Suddenly there’s an unforeseen problem. Something you didn’t find during due diligence. Something that happened out of the blue.


What can you do?


It depends. If a seller purposefully withheld something like a fatal flaw you will likely have some kind of recourse. If this is the case, call your business broker and discuss what options are available.


What if it’s not a secret fatal flaw? Then what?


Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Business ownership is tough stuff, and sometimes no matter what’s being thrown at you – you just have to find a way to persevere.


For instance, say you just bought a restaurant. Shortly after you take over the whole staff quits because they can no longer get away with things the previous owner allowed. Although a potentially rough situation, it can be solved by working some shifts yourself while you hire new staff or temporarily limiting the restaurant’s hours until you can right the ship.


What’s important to remember when you hit those initial and inevitable bumps in the road is no business is perfect and no business is smooth sailing. You are going to encounter problems – your success or failure as a business owner depends on what you do when faced with those problems.


It is also important to remember that the buck ultimately stops with you. If you aren’t willing to work with a staff who wants to get away with whatever they want – it’s not the previous owner’s fault when that staff quits en masse. It’s yours. Deal with the fallout and do what you need to do to get a new staff in place. Business buyers who sit on their hands and blame everyone but themselves are probably going to have a hard time as entrepreneurs.


The message here is you can research all you want and learn all you can about your new business and still end up with unexpected problems right out of the gate. Just remember that with some thought and hard work you and your new business can overcome anything.


Are you considering buying a business and want to know what recourse you might have if a seller hides issues? Do you want to know more about how you can find and deal with potential issues during due diligence? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments, we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242



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When To Jump: Thoughts For Business Buyers In 2020

These are interesting times, to say the least. Making the call to buy a business and jump into entrepreneurship was a difficult decision before the pandemic invaded all of our lives – now it seems like an impossible decision to make. 



Should I really buy a business right now?


If living through this madness has you rethinking all of your life choices and has you seriously considering making the jump – then you still can if you do so with the right planning and a good dose of flexibility. 


If you were seriously considering buying a business before the madness, the madness doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop. Whether entrepreneurship was the plan then or suddenly now, you should take another look at the businesses you consider and ask this question – will this business help me meet my goals for business ownership?


Defining your goals for business ownership will be pivotal to finding the right business for you – one where you can be successful and achieve the life you are looking for. Think about how much money you need to make to keep your life moving. Think about what you want your work week to look like. Think about how many hours you are willing to work everyday. Think about how much money you want to realistically spend right now. Think about jobs and industries where you think you would do well. 


These considerations will be very important, as will the ability to be flexible. You might have your heart set on a specific type of business, but buying that business will be an exercise in futility if that business meets none of the goals we discussed above. The current world we live in will also play a part in what business will meet your goals. For instance, if you are a buyer without a lot of free cash available, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a business that can be affected by shutdowns – you won’t have the cash to sustain it.


The message here is that business ownership is still in cards if you want it to be. There are good businesses for sale and with the right planning and forethought you can find one that will meet the goals you have for your life.


It probably also needs to be said that not only will you need to be flexible with your initial business choices, but also with the process. There are new protocols to keep everyone safe – so meetings will need to be planned ahead of time or take place via conference call or Zoom, masks will need to be worn for on-site visits, documents will be signed electronically instead of in person and requests may take a bit longer than they once did.


If you want to buy a business, you can. If you have questions – about the businesses that are currently for sale, about the changes to the business buying process, about how you can find a business that meets your goals – ask us! Please feel free to 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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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

5111 Ocean Boulevard, Suite E
Siesta Key, FL 34242

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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

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

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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.




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

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


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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

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


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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

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

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Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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