Questions Business Buyers Want Answers To

If you are even thinking about selling your business, it’s important to know the questions that buyers generally want answers to. For example, the first question almost always asked by buyers is: If this is such a good business why is it for sale? How you answer this question can make or break a sale. A vague answer can discourage buyers from further consideration of your business, as they may assume the worst. If you say you are “burned out’ or just ready to try something new – that’s fine. If you’ve owned and operated the business for 10 to 15 years, buyers will most likely accept your reason for sale and continue their investigation. However, if you’ve only owned and operated the business for two years or less, a prospective buyer may find it concerning that you are already burned out or ready for something new. If you’re sick, be open about what the problem is; otherwise buyers will think you are just sick of the business. The worst thing a seller can do is to fudge an answer or … [Read more...]

What Happens If?

You may not have any intention of selling your business today. But, what happens to your business if you get hit by a truck, fall ill or are injured in some other way making you unable to operate your business for a fairly long period of time? Will your spouse step in? Do you have a trusted employee that can run things? Now might be a good time to give this some thought and discuss it with family and advisors. You have spent time, effort and money building your business. Your business is probably your and your family’s biggest asset. So, what happens to this asset if one of the unfortunate events mentioned above actually occurs? Without some strategies to deal with the unexpected, your business could be in serious trouble by the time you recover and return to work. Or worse, if you fail to survive an illness or injury, your family/heirs will be forced to create a plan of action to run the business or, at least, operate it until it can be sold. The obvious time to come up with a plan … [Read more...]

Increasing the Value of Your Business

Considering selling your business? Just want to increase the value of your business? Here are some areas to look at that can fairly quickly increase profits, which are, after all, a main building block in creating value. •    PRICING: Are the prices of the products or services set too low? Owners too often continue with the same prices year after year without revisiting their pricing structure. •    CUSTOMER SERVICE: Despite all of the above Elevating the quality or amount of customer service may not only increase business and support the higher prices suggested above, but also encourage customers to pay more promptly, increasing cash flow. •    EXPENSES: Owners should review what they pay for inventory, supplies, utilities, insurance, technology and any other expenses. Are you getting the lowest price possible? Are you taking advantage of all available discounts, etc.? It may pay to check pricing from other suppliers and vendors. Every saving increase profits and subsequently … [Read more...]

Unreported Income: “Show Me the Money!”

Prospective buyers don’t want to hear about “what the business really makes” – they want to see the books and records that show what is down in black and white. Here  is the old story about proper accounting procedures, or lack of: A Greek restaurant owner had his own bookkeeping system.  He kept his accounts payable in a cigar box on the left-hand side of his cash register, his daily cash returns in the cash drawer of the register, and his receipts for paid bills in a shoe box on the right side of the cash register.  When his youngest son graduated as a CPA, he was appalled by his father’s primitive bookkeeping methods.  “I don’t know how you can run a business that way,” he said.  “How do you know what your profit is?” “Well, son,” the father replied, “when I got off the boat from the old country, I had nothing but the clothes on my back.  Today, your brother is a doctor.  Your sister is a speech therapist, and you’re a CPA.  Your mother and I have a nice car, a city house, a … [Read more...]

The Highest Price Vs. The Best Deal

Naturally, sellers want the highest price they can get for their business. In come cases, however, it might not be the best deal. For this reason, every offer should be scrutinized carefully. When an offer is presented, the first thing a seller looks for is the price. If it is lower than anticipated, the seller’s first reaction is to give it back, initiating the case for its being much too low. A seller should consider an offer carefully and avoid a hasty reaction. Here are a few alternatives that might offset a lower price: •    an offer with no or very few, and easily satisfied contingencies •    a consulting agreement or other deferred compensation •    a quick closing •    all cash, if that’s important •    employment contracts with relatives or long-time employee(s) •    business vehicle to remain with the seller •    buyer has a long success record indicating long-term survival •    short-term payment period if seller financed When a professional business broker is involved, … [Read more...]

What’s Selling Now?

A recent survey revealed the following percentage breakdown of last year’s business sales by business types. The information was furnished by business brokerage firms nationally and compiled by Business Brokerage Press.        Retail businesses 17% Food & Drink related business 14% Auto related businesses 9% Distribution type businesses 11% Manufacturing businesses 16% Service type businesses 25% Other 5% Professional Practices 4% Figures rounded Service type businesses include dry cleaners, quick print, video stores, etc.  Other businesses include coin laundries, delivery, product, and vending routes, and any that don’t fit into the other categories listed. What does this mean to you as a business owner?  It indicates that service type businesses seem to be creating the most activity from business buyers, followed by retail and the food and drink sector.  The service sector has also been the leader in businesses sold by business brokers for the previous two … [Read more...]

Where Your Business Is Located Can Affect Its Price

The most recent editions of BizComps, the leading resource for comparable sales data ( ) has some interesting information on small business pricing based on the three major regions of the country – Eastern states, the Central states and the Western states.  They cover thousands of actual business sales over a ten year period.  Here is the breakdown: Location                        Average Sale Price Western states                    $299,500 Central states                    $221,951 Eastern states                    $285,941 Using the Western states as the base, since that region of the country has the highest average price business, businesses in the Central states sell for 74 percent of the average price in the Western states; and the average price in the Eastern states is 78 percent of the Western states average. … [Read more...]

What Will Your Buyer Be Looking For?

The buyer loves your business; it’s just what he or she has been looking for.  He has reviewed your financial statements and has made an offer contingent on several items.  You’ve reviewed the offer and it looks fine, so what’s next?  The contingencies in the deal mean that the buyer or his or her advisors have some concerns. In larger deals, this process might be called due diligence.  However, in the smaller business sale, the items of concern are usually spelled out as opposed to a general review of everything.  The reason for this is that larger businesses or companies have a lot more areas of concern than the typical smaller business. Most contingencies concern the review of financial statements and/or business tax returns.  Others may involve lease issues, the seller staying on for a set period of time, or some very specific issue such as repaving the parking lot, if the landlord won’t or isn’t required to. Unfortunately, some contingencies may be hiding other ones such as a … [Read more...]

A Seller’s Major Concerns

For many owners, selling their business is a new experience, and there is always the fear of the unknown. Selling a business is a not only a major economic decision, but it can also be an emotional one. After all, many business owners have spent many years, and a lot of hard work building the business. When the decision to sell is made, there will inevitably be accompanying concerns. However, when faced head-on, these concerns can usually be addressed and resolved. Here are some of the major concerns and ideas on how to deal with them. Getting the Highest Possible Price Every seller wants to get the highest possible price for their business - that's a given. Here is an old, but very accurate definition: The Asking Price is what the seller wants. The Selling Price is what the seller gets. The Fair Market Value is the highest price the buyer is willing to pay and the lowest price the seller is willing to accept. Today's buyers are more educated, more sophisticated, and more … [Read more...]

What is a Contingency?

A contingency in the sale of a business is a condition in the contract of sale or offer that must be resolved, satisfied or rectified by either a buyer or seller. If they are not satisfied then the sale will generally not go forward. Most offers on a business contain one or more contingencies. The sale may be subject to the buyer obtaining financing, or the seller repaving the parking lot. Experienced business brokers have seen just about every contingency there is. Most of these are placed in the offer by a buyer who has concerns about one or more issue and needs it or them to be satisfied before proceeding with or closing the sale. It may be as simple as the sale is contingent upon the buyer receiving a five-year extension of the lease by [a certain date]. Or, the offer to purchase may state that the sale is conditional upon the buyer's approval of the seller's books and records. The difference between the two examples is that in the first one, it is a specific event that must be … [Read more...]