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...]

Do I need an attorney?

It may be advisable to have an attorney review the legal documents. It is important, however, that the attorney you hire is familiar with the business buying process and has the time available to handle the paperwork on a timely basis. If the attorney does not have experience in handling business sales, you may be paying for the attorney's education. Most business brokers have lists of attorneys who are familiar with the business buying process. An experienced attorney can be of real assistance in making sure that all of the details are handled properly. Business brokers are not qualified to give legal advice. However, keep in mind that many attorneys are not qualified to give business advice. Your attorney will be, and should be, looking after your interests; however, you need to remember that the seller's interests must also be considered. If the attorney goes too far in trying to protect your interests, the seller's attorney will instruct his or her client not to proceed. The … [Read more...]

Why should I go to a business broker?

A professional business broker can be helpful in many ways. They can provide you with a selection of different and, in many cases, unique businesses, including many that you would not be able to find on your own. Approximately 90 percent of those who buy businesses end up with something completely different from the business that they first inquired about. Business brokers can offer you a wide variety of businesses to look at and consider. Business brokers are also an excellent source of information about small business and the business buying process. They are familiar with the market and can advise you about trends, pricing and what is happening locally. Your business broker will handle all of the details of the business sale and will do everything possible to guide you in the right direction, including, if necessary, consulting other professionals who may be able to assist you. Your local professional business broker is the best person to talk to about your business needs and … [Read more...]

What happens when I find a business I want to buy?

When you find a business, the business broker will be able to answer many of your questions immediately or will research them for you. Once you get your preliminary questions answered, the typical next step is for the broker to prepare an offer based on the price and terms you feel are appropriate. This offer will generally be subject to your approval of the actual books and records supporting the figures that have been supplied to you. The main purpose of the offer is to see if the seller is willing to accept the price and terms you offered. There isn't much point in continuing if you and the seller can't get together on price and terms. The offer is then presented to the seller who can approve it, reject it, or counter it with his or her own offer. You, obviously, have the decision of accepting the counter proposal from the seller or rejecting it and going on to consider other businesses. If you and the seller agree on the price and terms, the next step is for you to do your … [Read more...]

What does it take to be successful?

Certainly, you need adequate capital to buy the business and to make the improvements you want, along with maintaining some reserves in case things start off slowly. You need to be willing to work hard and, in many cases, to put in long hours. Unfortunately, many of today's buyers are not willing to do what it takes to be successful in owning a business. A business owner has to, as they say, be the janitor, errand boy, employee, bookkeeper and "chief bottle washer!" Too many people think they can buy a business and then just sit behind a desk and work on their business plans. Owners of small businesses must be "doers." … [Read more...]

What should I Look for?

Obviously, you want to consider only those businesses that you would feel comfortable owning and operating. "Pride of Ownership" is an important ingredient for success. You also want to consider only those businesses that you can afford with the cash you have available. In addition, the business you buy must be able to supply you with enough income - after making payments on it - to pay your bills. However, you should look at a business with an eye toward what you can do with it - how you can improve it and make it more productive and profitable. There is an old adage advising that you shouldn't buy a business unless you feel you can do better than the present owner. Everyone has seen examples of a business that needs improvement in order to thrive, and a new owner comes in and does just that. Conversely, there are also cases where a new owner takes over a very successful business and not soon after, it either closes or is sold. It all depends on you! … [Read more...]

How are businesses priced?

Generally, at the outset, a prospective seller will ask the business broker what he or she thinks the business will sell for. The business broker usually explains that a review of the financial information will be necessary before a price, or a range of prices, can be suggested for the business. Most sellers have some idea about what they feel their business should sell for - and this is certainly taken into consideration. However, the business broker is familiar with market considerations and, by reviewing the financial records of the business, can make a recommendation of what he or she feels the market will dictate. A range is normally set with a low and high price. The more cash demanded by the seller, the lower the selling price; the smaller the cash requirements of the seller, the higher the price. Since most business sales are seller-financed, the down payment and terms of the sale are very important. In many cases, how the sale of the business is structured is more … [Read more...]