If you're thinking about buying a business, you'll be pleased to learn that financing the purchase is generally quite easy. In fact, it's far simpler to get the money you need to buy an existing business than it is for a start up. Most people simply don't realize how to do it. Don't get the wrong idea: you're not going to buy a business, at least a good one, with no money down; that only happens in the infomercials.
Many prospective business buyers mistakenly believe that traditional lenders will welcome them with open arms when they present them with a business they're looking to acquire. Unfortunately, nothing can be farther from the truth. It still amazes me how the banks have got most people fooled. They run these great ad campaigns promoting themselves as "business/client friendly" but try to get them to lend you money to buy a business. It won't happen.
It doesn't matter how experienced you are, or what your relationship is with them,. Unless you're prepared to collateralize the loan 100% with non-business and personal liquid assets, they aren't going to give you a penny. So don't waste your time seeing them. With the terms they offer, it's just not worth it.
The landscape is pretty lopsided when it comes to how people buy small businesses. 90% of all transactions involve some financing. Only 10% are all cash deals. Even if you're inclined to pay all cash, my advice is not to do so, unless you get a very hefty price reduction: at least 20%.
The vast majority of small business acquisitions involve seller financing. In fact, it's estimated that over 80% include some for of financial aid from the former owner. While the percentages vary, it's generally 30% to 50% of the total purchase price. When you think about the situation, it makes perfect sense. First of all, by providing financing, the seller validates the viability of the business itself. Also, the seller is able to get the highest price possible by funding part of the acquisition.
From a buyer's perspective, it serves to reinforce that the seller is also at risk in the transaction. It's a perfect mechanism to help ensure that what you've been told by the seller is true and accurate. It also serves as a mechanism to deal with situations that may arise later on that come about as a result of their actions where you may need the ability to offset their financing.
The Small Business Administration does NOT lend money for people to buy businesses. The SBA guarantees loans made by lenders (up to a certain amount) for small business acquisitions. There are both good and bad points to an SBA loan.
You may be thinking, if you can make the acquisition with 20% down, why would you even think about anything else? Here's why:
Having said this, it is nevertheless advisable for you to explore the SBA option. You'll want to approach a "preferred SBA lender". Most banks have this status. What it allows for is the banks to approve the loan on their own without having to submit everything to the SBA. If you choose this route be VERY specific in asking the lender for timelines to complete the transaction.
Unless you're buying a business for under $100,000 or getting an enormous price concession, don't pay cash. As for SBA approval, while their rigid guidelines will help to confirm the viability of a business, unless you're making an acquisition where you cannot finance the down payment, I tend to place this as my second choice.
I am a huge believer in seller financing. It's like buying a used car with an extended warranty paid for by the prior owner. There's no substitute for the flexibility you can achieve, or the favorable terms, plus, more than anything else, it really forces the seller to share in the risk. If I'm going to buy someone else's business, I want to be darn sure that they've got a stake (or risk) in my success as well.
|Richard Parker is the author of: How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price, the most widely used reference resource and strategy guide for buying a business. He has purchased ten businesses in his career and has helped thousands of prospective buyers worldwide learn how to buy the right business for sale. He is also founder and President of Diomo Corporation - The Business Buyer Resource Center.|