What Should You Evaluate When Buying a Business?

Buying a business can be an exciting prospect.  For many prospective business owners, owning a business is the fulfillment of a decades long dream.  With all of that excitement comes considerable emotion.  For this reason, it is essential to step back and carefully evaluate several key factors to help you decide whether or not you are making the best financial and life decision for you.  In this article, we’ll examine five key factors you should consider before buying a business. What is Being Sold? If you hate the idea of owning a clothing store, then why buy one?  The bottom line is that you have to have a degree of enthusiasm about what you are buying otherwise you’ll experience burnout and lose interest in the business. How Good is the Business Plan? Before getting too excited about owning a business, you’ll want to take a look at the business plan.  You’ll want to know the current business owner’s goals and how they plan on going about achieving those goals.  If they’ve not been … [Read more...]

Interested in Buying a Business? Check Out These 3 Commonly Overlooked Areas

When it comes to buying a business, nothing is more important than the factor of due diligence.  For most people, this investment is the single largest financial decision that they will ever make.  And with this important fact in mind, you’ll want to leave absolutely no stone unturned. Let’s examine the three most commonly overlooked areas when it comes to buying a business: retirement plans, 1099’s and W-2’s, and legal documents. 1. Examine All Legal Documents While it may sound like a “pain” to investigate all the legal documents relating to a business that you are vetting for purchase, that is exactly what you have to do.  The very last thing you want is to buy a business only to have the corporate veil pierced.  Everything from trademarks and copyrights to other areas of intellectual property should be carefully examined.  You should be quite sure that you receive copies of everything from consulting agreements to documentation on intellectual property. 2. Retirement Plans Don’t … [Read more...]

Key Elements for Every Partnership Agreement

You should never forget that your partnership agreement is, in fact, one of the most important business documents you will ever sign.  Many people go into business with loved ones, relatives or lifelong friends only to discover (once it’s too late) that they should have had a partnership agreement.  A partnership agreement protects everyone involved and can help reduce problems that may arise.  Outlining what will happen during different potential situations and events in a legal framework can help your business keep running smoothly. What Should Be in a Partnership Agreement? Every business is, of course, different; however, with that stated, any partnership should outline, with as much clarity as possible, the rights and responsibilities of all involved.  A well written and carefully considered partnership agreement will keep small problems and disagreements from evolving into more elaborate and serious concerns. There are times to take a DIY approach and then there are times when … [Read more...]

Is It Time to Become a Business Owner? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself.

Many people know that owning a business isn’t for them.  But for others, the appeal and lure of owning their own business can be powerful indeed.  If you are uncertain as to whether or not this path is for you, there are a few simple questions you can ask to gain almost instant clarity.  In this article, we will explore those key questions and help you determine if owning a business is in your future. 1. Are You Dedicated to Growing Your Income? Quite often people like the idea of making more money, at least in the abstract.  But when presented with what it takes, many people realize that they don’t want to do what is involved.  Owning and operating a business can be a lot of work and it’s not for everyone.  Yet, those who embrace it can find it rewarding in a variety of ways. Being a business owner is radically different than being an employee.  As an employee, you simply don’t exercise much control.  Summed up another way, your financial fate is clearly in the hands of someone else: … [Read more...]

The Top Two Ways to Purchase a Business without Collateral

Banks love collateral and for a very simple reason.  If you have collateral, then the bank has something it can take if you fail to repay your loan.  At its heart, collateral is a remarkably simple concept.  However, unfortunately, many people who want to start a business lack it.  All of this leads us to the simple question, “Can I start a business without a collateral. 1. Try the SBA There are ways that you can start a business without collateral, but you will need some amount of money.  The larger the business, obviously the more money you’ll need.  Those interested in the zero collateral route will want to take a look at the SBA’s 7 (a) program.  This program incentivizes banks to make loans to prospective buyers.  Through this program, the SBA guarantees an impressive 75% of the loan amount. Of course, the buyer still has to put up 25% of the money in order to buy the business, but for those looking to own a business without having to put up collateral, the SBA’s 7 (a) program is … [Read more...]

Around the Web: A Month in Summary

A recent article posted on Business2Community.com entitled “How to Close the Deal and When to Walk Away When Buying or Selling a Business” explains the business sale process and how to differentiate between a good deal and a bad deal during the process. Closing a deal involves quite a bit of legwork, including producing a letter of intent, doing due diligence, acquiring financing, signing a purchase agreement, and actually closing the deal. These items can be easier with the help of a business advisor, broker, or attorney, but emphasis should be placed on the due diligence aspect: knowing the business inside and out is vital to a successful sale. Walking away from a deal can be difficult for a motivated buyer, but is sometimes necessary to avoid emotional and financial disaster. The following red flags help to signify that it's time to walk away: Inconsistencies Neglect Undisclosed Problems Poor Credit Rating The Industry is in Decline Being prepared is one of the best things that a … [Read more...]

The Top 3 Key Factors to Consider about Earnings

Two businesses could report the same numeric value for earnings but that doesn't always tell the whole story. As it turns out, there is far more to earnings than may initially meet the eye. While two businesses might have a similar sale price, that certainly doesn't mean that they are of equal value. In order to truly understand the value of a business, we must dig deeper and look at the three key factors of earnings. In this article, we'll explore each of these three key earning factors and explore quality of earnings, sustainability of earnings after acquisition and what is involved in the verification of information. Key Factor # 1 – Quality of Earnings Determining the quality of earnings is essential. In determining the quality of earnings, you'll want to figure out if earnings are, in fact, padded. Padded earnings come in the form of a large amount of “add backs” and one-time events. These factors can greatly change earnings. For example, a one-time event, such as a real … [Read more...]

The Deeper Significance of a Listing Agreement

Listing agreements are very common when it comes to selling a business. In order to sell a business using a business broker, a listing agreement is usually required. In this article, we will explore this essential agreement and why it is so critical. Signing a listing agreement legally authorizes the sale of a business. The fact is that signing a listing agreement serves to represent the end of ownership, which for many business owners, means heading into new territory. Quite often owning a business is more than “owning a business,” as the business represented a dream and/or a way of life. Walking away from the dream or lifestyle represents a significant change. For many owners this is the end of a dream. It is not uncommon for many business owners to have started a business from “scratch,” and it is also only human to feel at least somewhat attached to the creation. Phrased another way, walking away from a business that one has worked on and cared for is often easier said than … [Read more...]

Are You Sure Your Deal is Completed?

When it comes to your deal being completed, having a signed Letter of Intent is great. While everything may seem as though it is moving along just fine, it is vital to remember that the deal isn't done until many boxes have been checked. The due diligence process should never be overlooked. It is during due diligence that a buyer truly decides whether or not to move forward with a given deal. Depending on what is discovered, a buyer may want to renegotiate the price or even withdraw from the deal altogether. In short, it is key that both sides in the transaction understand the importance of the due diligence process. Stanley Foster Reed in his book, The Art of M&A, wrote, “The basic function of due diligence is to assess the benefits and liabilities of a proposed acquisition by inquiring into all relevant aspects of the past, present, and predictable future of the business to be purchased.” Before the due diligence process begins, there are several steps buyers must take. First of … [Read more...]

Defining Goodwill

You may hear the word “goodwill” thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? When it comes to selling a business, the term refers to all the effort that the seller put into a business over the year. Goodwill can be thought of as the difference between the various tangible assets that a business has and the overall purchase price. The M&A Dictionary defines goodwill in the following way, “An intangible fixed asset that is carried as an asset on the balance sheet, such as a recognizable company or product name or strong reputation. When one company pays more than the net book value for another, the former is typically paying for goodwill. Goodwill is often viewed as an approximation of the value of a company's brand names, reputation, or long-term relationships that cannot otherwise be represented financially.” Goodwill vs. Going-Concern Now, it is important not to confuse goodwill value with “going-concern value,” as the two are definitely not the same. Going-concern value … [Read more...]