Buying A Business - The Basics
Whether you are starting your own business from scratch, going into a business opportunity, or buying a business, you need to have certain characteristics, traits, skills, and goals in order to succeed. So how do you know if you are ready to own a business? Basically, you need to ask yourself some hard questions and give yourself honest answers. If you don’t have the time and commitment to start a business, you need to look elsewhere for your income. You may be better served accepting a job with a company. There are those that need structure and a job is the place for them. But, if you are inclined to owning your own business, then lets discuss some necessary items. First, you need to have a plan. The plan can come from your own imagination, the franchisor, or the company offering the business opportunity. It doesn’t have to be something set in stone, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be a basic outline of what your business will be, what you will sell, how you will sell it, and what your operating costs will be. It is recommended that you include at least three months of operating expenses into your start up costs budget, which also needs to be determined in your plan. The next item is paramount to your success. It is the infamous 4 letter word and that is work.
Buying a business in today's economic climate requires that you, the buyer, be on the ball, with regard to business basics. This economic climate, as far as businesses are concerned, is a sellers market.With the corporate downsizing, economic downturn and other factors, there are a lot of very knowledgeable buyers out there looking for one of the very few good business to buy. This means that you, as a buyer have a lot of competition. Consequently, you need to be well prepared. Professional business buyers, report that it takes anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to find the right business. So, if anything, what can be done to speed this looking process and at the end finally get a good business?The decision - the first step is deciding to buy a business. Once you have made this decision and you are definite and firm about the fact that you are definitely buying a business, the process has started.The second step is to decide what kind of business. This is really really important. What are the criteria for this business you are looking to buy? Do not make a wish list or what would be nice. Make a list of what is important. For example, if your standard of living requires $100,000 income, do not compromise by looking at businesses that make only $50,000.That is unless you consider yourself a knowledgeable business manager and marketing person who knows that any business they buy will double in income and sales. That kind of buyer can buy a business that makes no profit and probably should.Other criteria include; is it something you can handle? What kind of work are you willing to do? If you like sales and do not like running a factory, buy a distribution company, or sales organizations, and do not buy a manufacturing firm, unless you have a partner that likes running a production line.I have people call me to inquire about buying a body shop that have no automotive experience at all. You can buy an auto repair shop, muffler shop, brake shop or lube store, and learn the business, with no experience to start. You probably should not buy a salvage yard body shop, or scrap yard with out being raised in the business. If you are a salesman you can buy almost any business.All manufacturing, distribution or retail sales require good personal sales skills. If you are poor at communication skills or English is a second language, consider buying a liquor store, gas station or hamburger stand, just a few of the businesses that do not require, personal selling, or do they?About you - There are some things you need to prepare for the brokers when they start coming to you with possible businesses. You need to make sure that you have your down payment sorted out. Expected down payments are anywhere from 25% to 100% of the selling price. So make sure you know what you want to spend and then make sure you have the down payment easily available.Then you need to get your financing options determined. You can get yourself pre-qualified for a business loan or an SBA loan if the business you are buying is required by you to show a profit on the books. SBA loans are only available to businesses that have shown a 5-year profit on their tax returns. If you are looking at businesses that are heavily unrecorded income, you must have cash or seller financing. Being your own broker - You should determine who is going to make your offer. A broker, or yourself? If it is you then you should locate the necessary offer forms and study them carefully. Determine what must be in your offer so that you can put in an offer, the instant you find a business that meet your requirements. This is an important step, as putting in an offer tends to lock out other buyers while you look over the business. Make sure you have contingencies in your offer, which means you have lots of "get out of the deal" clause.I would like to suggest, for the less experienced buyer to hire as a consultant the sharpest attorney or business broker you can find and pay him for his time to watch your rear end, in negotiations and in reviewing the companies you are considering buying. In real estate we call this a buyers agent, except with businesses the listing agent will not always co-operate in splitting the commission. This means you need to be willing to pay your agent an hourly fee for helping you. Let me give you a real example.David and his father were looking for a business to buy. They were interested in a Scrap yard that I was selling. I asked their buying agent to bring them over so I could interview them and to explain this business to them. In 3 minutes it was clear that they should not even consider this business. We spent the balance of the meeting talking about the businesses they had looked at and the pros and cons of each. I gave them my honest suggestions about each from their description. They thanked me and left.Two months later David calls and asked if he could come talk to me. He told me about an FSBO "For Sale by Owner," who would never pay any agent a commission unless he got his price + the commission. That of course doesn't make sense to a buyer. David told me about the deal and I gave him my honest opinion about it. David asked what my time was worth and gave me a check for an hour's time.Two months again passed and David called and said, "I need to see you today." He proceeded to tell me about a Car Wash Soap manufacturing company that was suppose to be making $500,000 profit per year. The asking price was $2 Million. David wanted several things from me. He wanted my opinion of the business, he wanted me to help get the price down to a more reasonable amount and he wanted me to verify the income. It took me 30 hours of reviewing the books and talking to the seller to determine that the business was making only $350,000 per year including what was not on the books. The books were made complicated, intentionally so that no one could understand what was going on.I related my findings and told David he had to do his own negotiations but I would coach him every step of the way. David paid my fee and I didn't hear from David for one year. When he called, I asked what happened to the car wash soap business. He filled me in on the story.He bought the business for more than I suggested because he saw where he could improve the business instantly. The profit turned out not to be $500,000 as the seller guaranteed, but exactly $350,000 as I had determined. David took over sales and marketing and within 1 year had the company profit up to the $500,000 he was promised.David now had found a related business that had been listed with an agent who did not understand the business he was marketing and could not sell it. David was now talking to the seller directly. The seller wanted $550,000. David wanted me to negotiate, on a consulting fee bases with the seller to get the price down.I instructed David that I would appraise the business, and convince the seller that my appraisal was accurate, but David had to do the negotiations. The seller would never talk to me about the inside details if he was negotiating with me directly. This time I spent 5 hours with the seller, not the books, to determine the business was worth $350,000. The seller would not take the price, but felt I had done an excellent appraisal. I suggested to David to wait 60 days and open discussions again. I also told him the seller would eventually take the $350,000.I again didn't hear from David, this time for 6 months. When David called I asked for his report on what happened. The seller called him after one month and sold the business to him for my appraised amount, just as predicted. What did David want this time? Two guys wanted to buy the business and David wanted me to justify a price of $500,000? I did my updated analysis and got paid. I will not find out what happened until David calls me with my next assignment.Get the word out - Now that you have got all of your preliminary work done you are ready to go looking for businesses. You are ready to look for businesses for sale. Go on to the Internet and look at sites that have businesses for sale. Look in the classified section of your county newspapers and look at what is for sale. Contact business brokers and tell them what you are looking for in detail. Call on broker listings and FSBO (For Sale by Owners.) When you find something interesting you move through the steps with a broker, accountant or attorney or without a broker, accountant or attorney.Find out what financial records they have. This will eliminate 75% of the businesses. The records are false because of cash sales and/or cash payroll. A lot of auto repair shops pay their mechanics a base salary on the books and the balance in cash. This is crazy and illegal. They have cash sales, which are illegal, and not reported and then they give this money to the employees illegally. Have fun figuring out the profit on these businesses. Some businesses do not want to give you any financials. They do not even want to lie to you about the numbers; they just do not give them to you. You need financials even to just see what the operating expenses are.Cash income -- The problem with cash income, besides being illegal is it is unconfirmed. Jack bought a body shop doing $60,000 sales on the books. The seller showed Jack records that proved to Jack, an experienced body shop owner that the business was really doing $125,00 month in sales. After escrow closed Jack was given the production records for the last 5 years by the general manager that stayed with the company. The business was doing $60,000. Exactly what was on the books! There was no cash. The seller reported every dime. I hate to say it but if someone were willing to lie to the government and their business broker, why would they tell you the truth? Find out what the seller wants - the next key step is to ensure that you find out exactly what the seller wants. You have already stated what you wanted when you got the word out. Now, you need to make sure you understand what the seller wants. Make sure you get full information on this from the broker or seller. On this step, you are basically finding out what the seller wants for his or her business exactly. That includes, down payment, seller carry back terms, time he is willing to train you to run the business, and what he is including in the price. Inventory can be included or extra. Leased equipment basically has you as the buyer assuming the debt, where financing on owned equipment is paid off in escrow or the price is lowered because you are assuming the debt. With all of this information, you can begin your negotiations.Negotiate - Ok, now you know what the seller wants and you know what you want. On this step, the objective is to get the two wants to match up and agree with each other, so that the deal can take place. What you are trying to do at this stage is decide if you are going to go ahead with the deal or if you are going to continue talking with the broker and the seller until what they want is closer to what you want. The key here is keeping the conversation going (negotiate). As long as the conversation is going, it is much more likely to result in the deal taking place. So keep the conversation going!Almost the final action - after the negotiations and an agreement has been reached, there is one final action that is vital. Your offer is in, but you are not done yet! Due diligence is required. Here you must get documentation on the financial figures you have been given. You want to verify that what you have been told is indeed the case. Get Profit and loss statements, business tax returns and other important documents. If you have been told that a body shop has a contract with the local city to service all their vehicles, or some such story, ask for and see the contract and verify that a valid contract does indeed exist. Part of this final action is ensuring that you have the advise of a competent professional as well.Escrow - Never buy an asset sale purchase without an escrow. We have already established that the sellers may be lying to you about any number of things, but they may have debts that they do not even know about. The escrow will do a "bulk sale notice" that gives creditors of the business a chance to file their claims, and if they do not the buyer cannot be held liable. The escrow also makes sure that the payroll taxes; sales taxes; federal and state income taxes are paid in full. The IRS has come into companies and assessed for many years of unpaid taxes. As the buyer you would get stuck with this bill, if you didn't do an escrow.Conclusion - Following the above steps will see you through most of the pitfalls in buying a business.
Buying a Business - Steps
After reading this article, you will be ready to start applying your knowledge and reach your American Dream of owning a business. This comes with a serious effort on your part; however, by reading this article, I assume you've decided to take this long journey and start making a change in your life. I'm going to introduce you to some easy ways to get the money you need through the modern-day miracle of leverage. We'll start with an approach that enables you to make the business actually pay for itself without requiring you to reach for your wallet.Question: Is it true that the method of taking money out of the company's cash flow is reserved exclusively for financial gurus?Answer: It is partly true. Most leveraging techniques have that reputation. And frankly, they shouldn't. If more people knew about them, many entrepreneurs would have been in business long ago. Such techniques only seem to be reserved for financial experts because they [the techniques] appear more frequently in strategic financial markets. You hear of many major acquisitions worth billions of dollars. Yet, you will never hear how it happened or what was involved. This information never goes public. As will be mentioned in Strategy 4, by developing a strong network with corporate leaders, you will definitely have access to that valuable information even though you might not work in the field.These are actually hidden secrets that I'm revealing to you right now. The power of information will allow you to go far. However, it's up to you to make the effort in searching for more information about the company that you want to acquire. Remember, the most powerful tool you have while you are dealing with the seller is showing him your knowledge in the industry and how it can be beneficial for him (and yourself, of course) to sell you the business. And, believe me, you too can put these powerful, yet simple, tools to use immediately.Question: What is the easiest way to explain how to use a business's cash flow for financing purposes?Answer: Let me start by giving you some perspective on how much money we're really talking about. One expert explains it this way:"The amount of cash an average business puts into its cash register over just two or three weeks is usually enough to cover the down payment to buy that business".Think about it. The cash that collects in just a matter of days is usually enough so that, with some creativity, you can use it to satisfy the seller's down payment. That can work no matter what type of business you are pursuing. Since there is no law that says you can't "borrow" that money, all you have to do is figure out how to use the cash collected to pay for the business once you have acquired it. This easy if you have a C.P.A to calculate your cash flow in order to know how to approach the seller with your proposal. Question: How does the process work?Answer: A few steps are required. You, or your C.P.A, must determine the net cash flow generated over the first several weeks of business by determining the difference between cash receipt totals and operating expenses.Question: What are the proper procedures to evaluate a business, and what should I prioritize to make my decision?Answer: There are several methods used to evaluate companies. Typically cash flow, assets, or replacement values, or a combination of these, are considered when determining the value of a company. The following lists various valuation methodologies typically used by valuation firms. Replacement Cost Analysis: o Generally, the value of a company does not relate to the value of replacing the assets of the company. Sometimes the replacement value of the property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) is far higher than the fair market value of the operating business. Sometimes the value of goodwill, such as customer relations, corporate logo, and technical expertise are far higher than the replacement value of the PP&E. You can often choose a particular industry by expanding facilities already owned, investing in entirely new facilities, or by purchasing all or part of a new company operating in the industry. The decision as to which investment to make depends, in part, on the relative cost of each. Of course, an investor will often consider capacity utilization, location, environmental, political, and legal issues among other things in determining where and how to invest. These issues may outweigh the importance of the replacement cost analysis; in such cases, this valuation method is not used to determine the fair market value of the company. Asset Appraisal Analysis: o It is generally possible to liquidate the PP&E assets of a company, and after paying off the company's liabilities the net proceeds would accrue to the equity of the company. It is necessary to determine whether such liquidation analysis should be performed assuming rapid or orderly liquidation of the assets. However, even when assuming an orderly liquidation of a company, it is generally the case that an operating company will be of substantially higher value. It is not appropriate to use the asset appraisal approach in this case because the company is operating successfully; under such circumstances, in the industry in which the company operates, the company's fair market value will almost certainly be in excess of the value of its assets on a liquidated basis. The sum is more valuable than the parts. It is appropriate to appraise non-operating assets using an asset appraisal approach to determine their value as part of the fair market value of the company. Discounted Cash Flow Analysis. o Another determinant in a company's value is the anticipated cash flow. Discounted cash flow analysis is a valuation method that isolates the company's projected cash flow that is available to service debt and provide a return to equity; the net present value of this free cash flow to capital is computed over a projected period based on the perceived risk of achieving such cash flow. So as to take into account the time value of capital it is typically appropriate to value the company's cash flows using a discounted cash flow approach. Total Invested Capital. o Each method of valuing a company or its business units places a value on the total invested capital. These various values are compared to reach a definitive fair market value. Often it is appropriate to weight the various implied values for total invested capital based on the relative effectiveness of each valuation method used for the analysis. When the value of the total invested capital has been determined, any claims to that value that have a more senior right than common stock are subtracted to determine the fair market value of common stock. These other claims include the fair market value of all debt, outstanding preferred stock, outstanding stock options, and share appreciation rights. Non-operating assets that had not been previously valued must be accounted for and added to total invested capital. These generally include cash and the fair market value of any non-operating assets. Terminal Value. o An owner may expect cash to flow to capital over an indefinite period of time. While valuation models often use predictions of future cash flows, it may be necessary to represent the value of the cash flow that can reasonably be expected to extend beyond the horizon of the projections. This value, known as the terminal value, is often calculated by multiplying the fifth year cash flow by a multiple. Selected multiples commonly use the median multiple of total invested capital to comparable companies selected in the comparable public company analysis. The selected multiple may be discounted to reflect the company's performance or size characteristics relative to comparable companies. This is quite similar to dividing the cash flow by the weighted average cost of capital and including a growth factor.Question: Well, that is all great. However, how will that help me in the purchase of the business?Answer: You negotiate a deal that enables the seller to receive the down payment directly out of the cash flow once you've taken over the company. If this sounds too good to be true, here is an example of its viability: An aspiring young entrepreneurial couple, Sandy and Kevin, wanted to buy a thriving restaurant and pastry shop in Northern Virginia. Although they were bright and energetic, and possessed some experience in the food industry, they nevertheless lacked-by a long shot-the ability to pay the $100,000 the seller wanted down on the total price of $500,000. (The restaurant's annual sales equaled $1 million, some of which came from a thriving commercial business selling its fresh roasted coffee to local gourmet supermarkets and coffee shops.)Fortunately, the seller agreed to pitch in and finance the $400,000 difference over five years at 10% interest. This happens often, especially with a good deal of persuasion. The couple's problem, however, was raising the remaining $100,000. Kevin's parents believed strongly in their son and daughter-in-law's skills and determination and decided to loan them $20,000 to be paid back at their convenience. That certainly helped, but they still needed $80,000. In order to reach this goal, the couple's C.P.A developed a cash flow statement for the first month of his clients' new ownership. Their suppliers wouldn't require any payment for a month so Sandy and Kevin would not have that expenditure. However operating expenses such as rent, payroll, and utilities had to be considered.Upon seeing the numbers from the financial analysis, Sandy and Kevin were convinced they could easily draw $80,000 from their business within four weeks. But the big question was: How could they convince the seller (who expected a $100,000 check on closing) to wait three to four weeks for his money?This is where creativity, persuasion, and earnestness were required. Strategizing with lawyers and their C.P.A, Sandy and Kevin devised a plan that enabled the seller to withhold the final papers of the sale for four weeks. During that period, they would pay the seller approximately $20,000 a week. If they missed a payment, the seller would have the right to renege on the deal. The seller agreed to this proposition giving Sandy and Kevin their American Dream for no cash of their own.This example represents over 80% of all take-over and acquisitions. In the worst-case scenario, the seller may not cooperate; in this case you should understand that he probably was never seriously interested in selling his business. It is possible that the seller was waiting to see how far you would go during the negotiating process, which brings us to the next question.
I Own a Small Business, Do I Need a Business Lawyer?
Creating a business from home is not as difficult as people may think. There are a multitude of home businesses that offer people the chance to earn income from the comfort of their own home. All you have to do is find the right home business opportunity to join. Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that gives people the opportunity to get an objective review on most home business opportunities. If you are searching for the right opportunity, this non-profit organization is a safe place to see if an opportunity is legit or not.According to home business magazine, marketing contributes to 58% of a business's success.Once you find the right opportunity, you will have to use effective marketing techniques. Being involved with the right opportunity is half the battle, you will have to use up-to-date techniques in order to get the best attention from the marketplace. Below are some effective marketing techniques to use when you are launching your marketing campaign. 1. Seasonal marketingSeasonal marketing is a great way to attract new customers for your brand. For retailers like Hallmark, Valentine's day represents the biggest portion of their business, according to Google. I would recommend that you do some research as to when your products are most in season for your market. If you know when your products and services are in season, you will be able to find demand and promote your products at the best possible time. I would recommend that you go on any search engine and search for free trend-tracking services in order to see when it will be the best time for you to market your product.2. PR marketingThis type of marketing is expensive. If you have a big budget, you can use the power of public relations in order to bring awareness to your product. When Steve Jobs was alive, apple constantly held press conferences to announce new products. You can go on any search engine and research the best public relation marketing services in order to get started. I suggest that you start off with the lowest possible budget first before going to the more expensive packages. 3. Online marketingOnline marketing has elevated to a new level. You can use a multitude of online marketing services, like e-mail lists, in order to come in direct contact with the people who are interested in what you have to offer. To succeed in e-mail lists, you will have to master the art of prospecting and closing. Once people respond to your promotional e-mails, it is best to call them in order share what your product has to offer.You can master the art of calling leads by getting prospecting and closing scripts on any search engine.According to home business magazine, any person who is affiliated with a home business opportunity can succeed as long as they master effective marketing techniques.
Owning Your Own Business - The 10 Things You Must Know