10 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Before buying any business, a seller must ask questions, lots of questions.  If there is ever a time where one should not be shy, it is when buying a business.  In a recent article from Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “10 Questions You Must Ask Before Buying a Business”, author Jan Porter explores 10 of the single most important questions prospective buyers should be asking before signing on the dotted line.   She points out to remember that “there are no stupid questions.” The first question highlighted in this article is “What are your biggest challenges right now?”  The fact is this is one of the single most prudent questions one could ask.  If you want to reduce potential surprises, then ask this question. “What would you have done differently?” is another question that can lead to great insights.  Every business owner should be an expert regarding his or her own business.  It only makes sense to tap into that expertise when one has the opportunity.  The answers to this question … [Read more...]

A Step by Step Overview of the First Time Buyer Process

A recent article on Businessbroker.net entitled, First Time Buyer Processes by business broker Pat Jones explores the process of buying a business in a precise step-by-step fashion.  Jones notes that there are many reasons that people buy businesses including the desire to be one’s own boss.  However, he is also quick to point out that buyers should refrain from buying a business that they simply don’t like.  In the quest for profits, many prospective owners may opt to do this, but it could ultimately lead to failure. Step One – Information Gathering For Jones, there are seven steps in the business buying process.  At the top of the list is to gather information on businesses so that one has an idea of what kind of businesses are appealing. Step Two – Your Broker The second key step is to begin working with a business broker.  This point makes tremendous sense; after all, those new to the business buying process will benefit greatly from working with a … [Read more...]

Goodwill and Its Importance to Your Business

What exactly does the term “goodwill” mean when it comes to buying or selling a business?  Usually, the term “goodwill” is a reference to all the effort that a seller puts into a business over the years that he or she operates that business.  In a sense, goodwill is the difference between an array of intangible, but important, assets and the total purchase price of the business.  It is important not to underestimate the value of goodwill as it relates to both the long-term and short-term success of any given business. According to the M&A Dictionary, an intangible asset can be thought of as asset that is carried on the balance sheet, and it may include a company’s reputation or a recognized name in the market.  If a company is purchased for more than its book value, then the odds are excellent that goodwill has played a role. Goodwill most definitely contrasts and should not be confused with “going concern value.”  Going concern value is usually defined as the fact that a business will … [Read more...]

The Importance of Understanding Leases

Leases should never be overlooked when it comes to buying or selling a business.  After all, where your business is located and how long you can stay at that location plays a key role in the overall health of your business.  It is easy to get lost with “larger” issues when buying or selling a business.  But in terms of stability, few factors rank as high as that of a lease.  Let’s explore some of the key facts you’ll want to keep in mind where leases are concerned. The Different Kinds of Leases In general, there are three different kinds of leases: sub-lease, new lease and the assignment of the lease.  These leases clearly differ from one another, and each will impact a business in different ways. A sub-lease is a lease within a lease.  If you have a sub-lease then another party holds the original lease.  It is very important to remember that in this situation the seller is the landlord.  In general, sub-leasing will require that permission is granted by the original landlord.  With a … [Read more...]

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...]

Around the Web: A Month in Summary

A recent article posted on the Axial Forum entitled “What Do Buyers Look for in the Lower Middle Market?” explains how to make your business valuable to potential buyers and how to find the right buyers for your business. The buyers in the lower middle market are usually strategic buyers, financial buyers, private equity firms, and search fund advisors. Buyers in this market are generally looking for the following characteristics: A strong management team who has incentive and is prevented from competing against the company if their employment is terminated Stability and predictability of revenue and cash flow Low customer concentration Other value drivers such as state-of-the-art operating systems High level of preparedness The article warns about the biggest obstacles for owners. Business owners should consult with experienced deal attorneys and investment bankers before speaking to any buyers. They should also consult with advisors before the company goes on the market to make … [Read more...]

The Importance of the Term Sheet

The value of the term sheet shouldn't be overlooked. From buyers and sellers to advisors and intermediaries, the term sheet is often used before the creation of an actual purchase or sale agreement. That stated, it is important that the term sheet is actually explained in detail. Let's take a closer look at its importance. What is a Term Sheet? Even though term sheets are quite important, they are rarely mentioned in books about the M&A process. In the book, Streetwise Selling Your Business by Russ Robb, a term sheet is defined as, “Stating a price range with a basic structure of the deal and whether or not it includes real estate.” Another way of looking at a term sheet, according to attorney and author Jean Sifleet, is that a term sheet serves to answer to four key questions: Who? What? Where? And How Much? Creating the Right Environment A good term sheet can help keep negotiations on target and everyone focused on what is important. Sifleet warns against advisors, … [Read more...]