Business Buyers Can Leverage SBA Lending

Finding the money to start your own small business can be a challenge.  Over the decades, countless people have turned to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for help.  A recent Inc. Magazine article, “Kickstart Your Business Dreams with SBA Lending,” by BizBuySell President, Bob House, explored how SBA lending can be used to the buyer’s advantage.

The article covers the basics of an SBA loan and who should try to get one.  House notes that the SBA doesn’t provide loans itself, but instead facilitates lending and even micro-lending with a range of partners.  The loans are backed by the government, which means that lenders are more willing to offer a loan to an entrepreneur who might not typically qualify for one.  The fact is that the SBA will cover 75% of a lender’s loss if the loan goes into default.

Entrepreneurs can benefit tremendously from this program.  In some cases, an SBA loan even means skipping the need for collateral.  SBA loans can be used for those looking to open a business, expand their existing business or open a franchise.

House points out that getting an SBA loan has much in common with receiving other types of loans.  For example, it is necessary to be “bank ready.”  By “bank ready,” House means that all of your financial documentation should be organized, clear to understand and ready to go.

Next, a buyer would need to check that he or she qualifies, find a lender and fill out the necessary SBA forms.  In order to be eligible for an SBA loan, it is necessary that the business is a for-profit venture and that it will do business in the United States.  Once the necessary forms have been submitted, it can take between 2 to 3 months for an application to be processed and potentially approved.

The simple fact is that the SBA helps thousands of people every year.  If you are looking to buy a business or expand your current business, then working with the SBA could be exactly what you need.  Of course, business brokers are experts on what it takes to buy.  Working with a broker stands as one of the single best ways to turn the dream of owning a business into a reality.

Less Risky Business: Buy a Business

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Harvard Business School professors Richard S. Ruback and Royce Yudkoff advocate for more aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue their goals by buying a business. They site concern over risk as the most common explanation for shying away from acquisition. They further argue that these concerns are short sighted and unfounded.

Comparing Risk

“We think that these concerns about ‘risk’ are misplaced and that searching for a business is less risky than other career paths that are traditionally considered more stable,” they write.

“Nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth,” says Forbes contributor Neil Patel. “Cold statistics like these are not intended to discourage entrepreneurs, but to encourage them to work smarter.”

Top 10 Reasons Startup Fail (by CB Insights)

Purchasing a vetted business allows you to avoid many of the reasons for this high failure rate. “Your chances of success are far greater buying an existing business than starting your own,” says Michael Greene, President of Sam Goldenberg and Associates.  “A good broker can help you find an established business that already has a proven success model, history of revenue generation, and immediate cash flow. It can also come with much more: inventory, trained employees, a customer base, operating systems, equipment, vendors, transitional support—the list goes on. It’s a more manageable risk than other options.”

“Finding an existing local business for sale can often be less risky and more satisfying and rewarding than starting completely from scratch,” says Simon Brackley, President and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. “Aspiring entrepreneurs can enjoy improvements in operations, marketing and strategy rather than starting from the ground up.”

Navigating the Search for a Business

Unfamiliarity with the search process is a major source of concern, according to Ruback and Yudkoff. For many buyers, there are uncomfortably many unknowns along the way.

 

A buyer can drastically limit risk in the area of search success by working with a broker. According to an International Business Brokers’ Association Market Pulse survey, “Dating back to the earliest Market Pulse surveys in 2012, surveyed advisors consistently report that approximately 49-50% of their engagements closed in a successful transition while half are terminated. This closing ratio is approximately twice the accepted industry standard of anywhere from 18% to 30%, depending on deal size.”

Buying a Small Business

Furthermore, according to IBBA, it is an especially good time for people looking to buy a business in the range of $500,000 or less. This is the range of most small businesses for sale in New Mexico. “Small business confidence is at a record high, with the longest stream of small business optimism in history.”

A broker further helps to mitigate risk by  facilitating negotiations, advising on financing, and setting up support during the transition between business owners. Click here to find out more about how brokers support buyers throughout the search for and purchase of the right business.

Finally, Ruback and Yudkoff suggest that buying a business results in less stress, more success, and higher quality of life in the long run.

“The searcher becomes a CEO of a business. Over time the business evolves to match the CEO, the management team is picked by the CEO, the products and customer base shifts to align with the CEO’s skills and interests, and the CEO is likely to understand the business better than competitors. Plus, the CEO’s significant ownership interest adds both to rewards and stability. In the long run, we think that being a senior consultant involves much more angst than being the CEO of a small business.”

Plus, with good exit planning, owning a business helps you create options for your next phase of life.

Get Started!

If you are considering entrepreneurship through acquisition, congratulations! Click here to get started by looking at our current listings.

Santa Fe Fresh for a 63-Year-Old Brand

Santa Fe Florist business sold July 6, 2015. Sam Goldenberg & Associates handled the transaction.There are now two fresh faces behind one of Santa Fe’s oldest brands. Long-time graphic designers Stephen Jones and Christopher Hill closed on Barton’s Flowers on July 6, 2015. Barton’s has been an indelible part of the community’s weddings, Mother’s Days, prom nights, and other celebrations since it first opened its doors in 1962. Read more

Ready to take the leap? Visit Us at the Santa Fe Business Expo.

Stop by our booth Thursday, April 2, 2015, at the Santa Fe Business Expo held at Santa Fe Place Mall. Chat with us about how we can help you exit your business, step up to becoming your own boss, and learn more about what is involved with both. We’ll be there all day at Santa Fe Place Mall and can’t wait to meet you.

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Steve & Jeni Resnick

Now as a resident of Santa Fe and a member of the business community, I can highly recommend Michael and the team at SGA as extraordinary partners to help buy or sell a business. I now consider Michael a friend, neighbor, and mentor – he is that good.

New Business Opportunities in New Mexico

What Do Buyers Really Want to Know?

Before answering the question, it makes sense to first ask why people want to be in business for themselves. What are their motives? There have been many surveys addressing this question. The words may be different, but the idea behind them and the order in which they are listed are almost always the same.

  1. Want to do their own thing; to control their own destiny, so to speak.
  2. Do not want to work for anyone else.
  3. Want to make better use of their skills and abilities.
  4. Want to make money.

These surveys indicate that by far the biggest reason people want to be in business for themselves is to be their own boss. The first three reasons listed revolve around this theme. Some may be frustrated in their current job or position. Others may not like their current boss or employer, while still others feel that their abilities are not being used properly or sufficiently.

The important item to note is that money is reason number four. Although making money is certainly important and necessary, it is not the primary issue. Once a person decides to go into business for himself or herself, he or she has to explore the options. Starting a business is certainly one option, but it is an option fraught with risk. Buying an existing business is the method most people prefer. Purchasing a known entity reduces the risks substantially.

There are some key questions buyers want, or should want, answers to, once the decision to purchase an existing business has been made. Below are the primary ones; although a prospective buyer may not want answers to all of them, the seller should be prepared to respond to each one.

  • How much is the down payment?  Most buyers are limited in the amount of cash they have for a down payment on a business. After all, if cash were not an issue, they probably wouldn’t be looking to purchase a business in the first place.
  • Will the seller finance the sale of the business?  It can be difficult to finance the sale of a business; therefore, if the seller isn’t willing, he or she must find a buyer who is prepared to pay all cash. This is very difficult to do.
  • Why is the seller selling?  This is a very important question. Buyers want assurance that the reason is legitimate and not because of the business itself.
  • Will the owner stay and train or work with a new owner?  Many people buy a franchise because of the assistance offered. A seller who is willing, at no cost, to stay and to help with the transition is a big plus.
  • How much income can a new owner expect?  This may not be the main criterion, but it is obviously an important issue. A new owner has to be able to pay the bills – both business-wise and personally. And just as important as the income is the seller’s ability to substantiate it with financial statements or tax returns.
  • What makes the business different, unique or special?  Most buyers want to take pride in the business they purchase.
  • How can the business grow?  New owners are full of enthusiasm and want to increase the business. Some buyers are willing to buy a business that is currently only marginal if they feel there is a real opportunity for growth.
  • What doesn’t the buyer know?  Buyers, and sellers too, don’t like surprises. They want to know the good – and the bad – out front. Buyers understand, or should understand, that there is no such thing as a perfect business.

Years ago, it could be said that prospective buyers of businesses had only four questions:

  1. Where is the business?
  2. How much is it?
  3. How much can I make?
  4. Why is it for sale?

In addition to asking basic questions, today’s buyer wants to know much more before investing in his or her own business. Sellers have to able to answer not only the four basic questions, but also be able to address the wider range of questions outlined above.

Despite all of the questions and answers, what most buyers really want is an opportunity to achieve the Great American Dream – owning one’s own business!

Key Factors on the Acquirer’s Side

There are several key factors on the acquirer’s side of a sale, most of which are necessary to achieve a successful closing. Just as a seller has to deal with quite a few factors, the acquirer must also. Some of the more important ones on the acquisition side are:

  • Sufficient financial resources to complete the deal as specified.
  • Depth of capable staff to run the existing business and also execute an acquisition at the same time.
  • A rational approach to the type, size and geographic location of target companies.
  • The willingness to “pay-up” for acquisitions such as 6x EBITDA and, if necessary, the willingness to pay 100% cash, whether the sale is one of assets or a stock transaction.
  • Assuming the acquisition search generates satisfactory deal flow, a willingness to stay the course for 6 to 12 months in the search process.
  • A confirmation by the board of directors of their commitment to complete a deal.
  • A “point person” in the search process, preferably the CEO, CFO or Director of Development who is reachable on a daily basis to discuss relevant matters.
  • Complete access to sales manager and others by the business intermediary to discuss suggestions of target companies.

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Questions to Consider for the Serious Buyer

A serious buyer should have the answers to the following questions:

  • Why are you considering the purchase of a business at this time?
  • What is your time frame to find a suitable business?
  • Are you open-minded about different opportunities, or are you looking for a specific business?
  • Have you set aside an amount of capital that you are willing to invest?
  • Do you really want to be in business for yourself?
  • Are you currently employed or unemployed?
  • Are you the decision maker, or are there others involved?

The real key to being a serious buyer, however, is whether the individual can make that “leap of faith” so necessary to the purchase of a business. No matter how much due diligence a buyer performs, no matter how many advisors there are to advise the buyer, at some point, the buyer has to make a leap of faith to purchase the business. There are no “sure things” and there are no guarantees. If a buyer is not comfortable being in business, he or she should not even contemplate buying one.

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Advantages of Buying an Existing Business

1. Established.

An existing business is a known entity. It has an established and historical track record. It has a customer or client base, established vendors, and suppliers. It has a physical location and has furniture, fixtures, and equipment all in place.  The term “turnkey operation” is overused, but an existing business is just that, plus everything else. New franchises may offer a so-called turnkey business, but it ends there. Start-ups are starting from scratch.

2. Business Relationships. 

In addition to the existing relationships with customers or clients, vendors, and suppliers, most businesses also have experienced employees who are a valuable asset. Buyers may already have established relationships with banks, insurance companies, printers, advertisers, professional advisors, etc., but if not, the existing owner does have these relationships, and they can readily be transferred.

3. Not “A Pig in a Poke”. 

Starting a new business is just that: “a pig in a poke.” No matter how much research, time, and money are invested, there is still a big risk in starting a business from scratch.  The existing business has a financial track record and established policies and procedures. A prospective buyer can see the financial history of the business — when sales are the highest and lowest, what the real expenses of the business are, how much money an owner can make, etc. Also, in almost all cases, a seller is more than willing to stay to teach and work with the new owner — sometimes free of charge.

4. Price and Terms.  

The seller has everything in place. The business is in operation and a price is established. Opening a new business from scratch can be the proverbial “money pit.”  When purchasing an established business, the buyer knows exactly what he or she is getting for his money. In most cases, the seller is also willing to take a reasonable down payment and then finance the balance of the purchase price.

5. The “Unwritten” Guarantee.

By financing the purchase price, the seller is saying that he or she is confident that the business will be able to pay its bills, support the new owner, plus make any required payments to the seller.

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