“A needle in the haystack!” or “A diamond in the rough”, both popular saying’s apply to what’s involved in finding your ideal company to buy! Any seasoned business buyer will tell you that finding viable companies that can be purchased for reasonable terms is a “numbers game”. Thousands of company purchase candidates defined, that lead to hundreds of contacts to be made, resulting in tens of acquisition conversations that hopefully lead to ONE company acquisition! Many merger and acquisition veterans will tell you “It takes 100 potential opportunities to get one good deal” … a numbers game. At any point in the business buyer’s purchase process, for any number of valid or invalid reasons, either the business buyer or the business seller can call off the potential deal. Most potential business mergers and acquisitions pursuits do fall apart. The human and financial costs to both parties involved can be significant, sometimes devastating.
Start thinking about buying an established business if you want to avoid the immense risks involved in starting one. Not everyone wants to start a business from scratch, and buying a business with the infrastructure in place lets you focus on building it up, as opposed to getting a new business off the ground. This is not to say that it’s easy to buy an existing business; it’s a fairly complicated process throughout which you need to know exactly what you’re doing.
First off, decide that you do want to buy before you begin your research. This way you will look at options more carefully. A particular business may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re sure that you do want to buy, then you won’t brush it off immediately, without first considering how you might grow with it. Business Broker’s deals with a wide range of businesses and will surely help you make up your mind quickly.
Talk to the people in your life who are likely to be affected by the venture. Let them know the hours that you are likely to have to work and the risks involved. You might need their support if you initially go through a rough patch.
Using a Broker
It would be more prudent to use the services of a broker in buying your business. All the important groundwork in terms of research would already have been done. And, you can focus on finalizing the deal.
A broker will handle all those complicated negotiations which you may just find too much to handle. And, when things turn unpleasant you can leave it all to your broker.
Brokers are supposed to have systems in place to take care of deals. The sale is usually a time of some stress for both the buyer and the seller, so having someone to put everything together and take care of the paperwork is very helpful. You will appreciate a broker’s services as it will allow you to concentrate on getting a worthwhile deal, and not have to worry about whether all the documents -and there are a lot of them- are in order.
Of course, your broker will charge you a substantial commission, but it will all be worthwhile if you get the deal you want.
Once you figure out your particular area of interest, think about the size of the business that you want to buy, the location of prospective sellers etc. Know your financial resources so that you don’t waste time looking at businesses that are beyond your reach, even if you have always fantasized about being a ship-builder.
Identify your strengths. Are you good at sales? Operations? Look out for a business that is in a
position to benefit from your particular strengths.
Once you’ve identified a business that you want to buy, make contact with the seller but hire professionals i.e. accountants, attorneys, etc. to take care of different aspects of the purchase.
Allow yourself a gut instinct about the seller and the business. Feel free to ask why they want to sell the business, and evaluate your decision based on their reasons. It might just reassure you that you should go ahead with the deal.
There are many methods of valuing a company, and it is up to the seller to decide how to go about it. Make sure the price is a fair representation of how valuable the company is likely to be to you. It is obviously disadvantageous to you if a non-performing company that is heavy in assets is priced based on the net value of its assets.
The asking price is negotiable. Even in a situation where the seller is firm on her price, enquire as to the method of valuation and challenge it if you think it leaves you with an unfair deal. While negotiating, be prepared to challenge the seller with facts and statistics.
Find out what specific concerns the seller has about the deal, and address them. Be sensitive to the fact that selling a business can be an emotional process but at the same time make sure that you don’t end up paying for its sentimental value.
Financing the Deal
To finance the deal, seller financing is probably the best option available to you. You won’t get a bank loan without offering 100% collateral. The Small Business Administration does offer some financing but only for deals that meet a strict set of criteria.
The good thing about seller financing is that it shows that the seller is being serious and honest about the deal, and is not trying to offload an ailing business onto you. It shows that he has enough faith in the business he is selling to share the risk involved in running it with you. There’s no better way to be sure that a business is really worth buying. Seller financing also allows for far greater flexibility than any other kind of financing.
Most people who start looking for a business to buy never actually end up buying. If your first deal doesn’t come through, don’t let it deter you from looking for other businesses. Learn from the experience and use it to sharpen your skills so that the next time around, you know exactly what you want and how to go about getting it.
1. Initial Consultation – You will have a one-on-one via phone or in person with a broker in your area to discuss all of your questions and concerns regarding the business buying process. Our brokers are trained to help you with business concerns as well as personal concerns. We realize that this is not only a financial decision, but a lifestyle decision as well.
2. Buyer Profile – Once all of your concerns have been addressed and you have signed a buyer registration agreement, your Business Broker will create a buyer profile by which he/she can search for the exact type of business you are looking for.
3. Viewing Listings – Once we have entered your criteria into our database, our computer will generate matches. Your professional business broker will then go with you to take a look at the listing and address any questions you may have.
4. Offer To Purchase – If one of these businesses fits what you are looking for and you have had a chance to think about making an offer (sometimes you may have to make several visits to the business to be certain), your broker will help you fill out an offer sheet. This sheet details the price and terms at which you would like to purchase the business. Here the experience of your broker will help you in making the best offer.
5. Due Diligence – Once the offer has been accepted, the buyer conducts a period of research on the business. Basically, due diligence is the process by which you work with the seller to verify the financials of the business as well as a period in which you learn the inner workings of the business. This process typically takes two weeks. A buyer may want to bring in his/her attorney or CPA to help during this phase of the purchase. Your broker will be available to assist you in the due diligence process in every way.
6. Contract & Closing – Following a successful due diligence period in which all of your concerns have been addressed, a contract will be drawn up between yourself and the seller of the business. Typically this is done between your attorney and that of the seller. If the contract meets all contingencies you have set forth, it can be signed and a closing date set. At closing, the business will officially change hands and you will have completed the buying process. Keep in mind that our brokers are here for you every step of the way to ensure that you are making informed decisions.