For most entrepreneurs, finding the money to launch their first business stands as a tremendous challenge. The good news is that getting a loan through the Small Business Association (SBA) is turning out to be a viable option for many business owners.
The SBA doesn’t directly provide loans itself, but instead, works to facilitate lending. SBA assistance can even extend into the realm of micro-lending. It is very important for prospective buyers to realize that since SBA loans are government backed, lenders are typically much more willing to offer a prospective buyer a loan. Impressively, the SBA will cover seventy-five percent of a lender’s loss in the event that a loan ultimately goes into default.
Many entrepreneurs find the issue of collateral to be a challenging one. Once again, the SBA can be of assistance. In some cases, an SBA loan may bypass the need for collateral altogether.
Overall, SBA loans do in fact have a good deal in common with other types of loans. Prospective buyers should have all of their financial documentation ready and well organized. In short, prospective buyers should have all their information organized as they would when dealing with a bank without SBA involvement.
Not every prospective buyer will qualify, so the first step that should be taken is for a would-be business owner to check and verify that they do indeed qualify for a loan. The next step for a prospective buyer is to find a lender and complete all necessary SBA forms.
There are several factors that determine eligibility for an SBA loan. Here are the two top factors that are important for qualifying for a loan
- The business must be based in the United States, the business must be a for-profit venture.
- Prospective buyers should expect that their application will take two to three months to process once it has been submitted.
All too often, people assume that they simply won’t qualify for an SBA loan. The statistical data tells a different story. Every year, thousands of people are approved for SBA loans. It’s important to keep in mind that these loans are not just for those looking to buy a business. The SBA also helps existing businesses that are looking to expand.
For the end of 2023, the SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman announced that this year, the SBA delivered $50 billion and this included capital, disaster relief and small business support. Guzman stated, “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to simplifying and addressing persistent inequities in accessing capital to ensure all small business owners can get the funding needed to grow and create jobs for our economy. In Fiscal Year 2023, the SBA transformed its lending and investment programs and expanded its capital partners to deliver nearly $50 billion in startup, growth, and recovery capital, as well as surety bonds, including more small business lending to people of color, women, and veterans.” 
Business brokers and M&A advisors are experts in working with the SBA. Entrepreneurs looking to buy a business can benefit enormously from their years of SBA experience. Working with a business broker or M&A advisor can help you streamline the SBA process and dramatically increase your chances of success.
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Are you a first-time business buyer? If so, it is critical that you work with a business broker or M&A advisor. If you’ve never purchased a business before, you simply can’t anticipate all that is involved in buying a business.
Buying a business is vastly different than buying a home, which is typically the largest purchase that most first-time business buyers have made. Sometimes buyers assume that since they have made large investments before, they will have a leg up in the business buying process. However, they typically quickly find out that they still need a great deal of assistance to navigate the complexities of the business buying process.
Business brokerage professionals know the process, the lay of the land, and the players involved. Additionally, business brokers and M&A advisors know where the traps and pitfalls are located. When it comes time to buy a business, all prospective business buyers can benefit from a guide.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps that are involved in purchasing a business.
Sign a Confidentiality Agreement
Prospective business buyers should always be ready to sign a confidentiality agreement. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the seller. They have invested a great deal of their lives in their business and allowing someone to peak behind the curtain can be a stressful prospect. Signing a confidentiality agreement is an initial sign of good faith.
Investigate the Business
Next, you’ll want to gather a good deal of information about the business. Once more, working with a business broker or M&A advisor is a prudent move as business brokers understand what kind of information should be acquired. They have an understanding of how to uncover important information that might otherwise go unseen.
Armed with as much relevant information as possible and an experienced brokerage professional, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the business in question. With the right information and experienced professionals at your side, you can be sure that you are making a wise investment.
Make Your Decision
The next step is to either decide to make an offer or pass on the business. You and your business brokerage professional will carefully evaluate a range of information including financial statements and tax returns. When choosing to make an offer, it is important that all key details are clearly laid out in writing, and this includes contingencies.
Finding the right business for you, in part, means determining what kind of business you truly want to own. The good news is that business brokers and M&A advisors are experts in every point examined in this article, and they can even assist prospective business buyers with determining what type of business is a good fit. The sooner you begin charting out a plan, the greater your chances of finding the right business for your unique needs, preferences, and specifications.
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Truly understanding a business is much like understanding the condition of a car. It is necessary for a skilled mechanic to “pop the hood” to access the true condition of a car. In much the same way, you and your team of experts need to “pop the hood” of the business in order to understand the business’s long-term health and viability. Here are four things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Will You Enjoy the Work?
Owning a business, especially if you are planning on being an owner-operator, can be a demanding path. You will likely have to log many hours, especially in the beginning. For this reason, you’ll want to select a business that you will enjoy owning.
Life is too short to own a business that you would not want to be involved in. Importantly, if you do not like the business you own, the odds of facing burnout and losing interest are higher. It goes without saying that these kinds of obstacles can dramatically harm your business. Think long and hard before selecting a business to buy, as it is a decision that you will have to live with for years to come.
Did You Examine the Business Plan?
A second factor to consider is that there is no replacement for a good business plan. When you are considering buying a business, you’ll want to dive in and understand every aspect of the current owner’s business plan. If the business plan has major holes or just doesn’t seem to be adding up, you should move on.
Do You Understand the Financials?
Similar to understanding the particulars of a business’s business plan, it is also critical that you have a very precise and clear view of a business’s financials. You should look over everything from profit and loss statements to tax returns and more. It is a smart idea to consult your accountant and a brokerage professional regarding what financial documents you should review. Before you buy a business is the time to understand every small detail of a business’s financial health, not after.
How is the Business Performing?
A fourth factor to consider when evaluating a business is the business’s overall performance. It is possible for a business to have a good business plan (at least on paper) and strong financials and yet it could still have a less than stellar future. Oftentimes, the true health of a business lies beyond the business plan and the current financials.
You’ll need to know about a wide variety of factors including how vulnerable the business is to competition, changes in market forces, the status of key management and employees, the relationship with key suppliers and customers, and any pending litigation. When buying a business, you simply can’t afford to overlook any area.
If you keep an eye on these four key areas, and work closely with experienced professionals like business brokers or M&A advisors, your odds of finding the right business for you will skyrocket. Owning a business that you love will greatly increase your chances of success, so don’t underestimate the emotional factor in the equation.
If you’re planning to buy or sell a business that involves a lease, this can lead to an extra level of complication. Oftentimes, such as in the case of a restaurant or retail establishment, the location is essential to the success of the business itself. That means that if you’re buying a business, you’ll have to make sure any lease issues you might encounter are straightened out before you sign on the bottom line. But even if you’re buying a business that isn’t location-sensitive, you’ll still want to iron out all the details about your lease ahead of time.
Negotiating a Lease
If you’re buying a business with a lease, one word of advice is to have a clear way out of the lease in the near future. After all, with a business so new to you, you might make changes in the short term. The general recommendation is to negotiate a one-year lease that has an option for a longer period of time.
In many instances, the buyer of a business with a lease will find that he or she doesn’t have too much leverage. However, buyers typically find that there is more opportunity to negotiate if the lease is close to its expiration date or the business is performing poorly.
When you’re first negotiating your lease, you may also want to think about the big picture. For example, if your business is in a mall, you might want to confirm that no future tenants will be allowed to move in and be your competition. Along similar lines, some businesses located in shopping centers seek to outline a reduction of rent if the shopping center’s anchor store were to close, as that could negatively impact the business.
When you negotiate your lease, you’ll also want to think about the far-off future when you’d like to sell the business. You will want to make sure that the landlord allows for lease transfers, and you’ll want to confirm the requirements necessary for a potential transfer.
Another thing to consider is what if the property did become available in the future? If this were to occur, you might want to negotiate the option to potentially buy the property. Otherwise, you might find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you are forced to move your establishment.
Basics for Your Lease
A lease should always outline your responsibilities as well as those of your landlord. Make sure you carefully review the lease with your attorney. You’ll want to be sure that you thoroughly understand all the terms. It should cover various issues that might arise in the future and how they will be handled. For example, if there were a fire or disaster, who would pay to rebuild the building? How are the taxes, fees and maintenance handled for the property?
Unfortunately, in some situations a landlord’s lack of flexibility with a lease has even sunk a deal. If the landlord is unwilling to agree to a new lease or offer concessions to an ongoing one, buyers often will find the situation too restrictive. In certain instances, however, sellers have been willing to offer concessions to buyers to counterbalance issues with a lease.
The fate of your business could literally depend on your lease. If you set things up correctly in the beginning, it will most likely benefit you tremendously in the long run.
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There are clearly qualities that make a person an ideal candidate to be a business owner. On the other side of the coin, however, it’s clear that owning a business isn’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the unique personality aspects that help motivated individuals identify owning a business as a good fit for them.
You Seek to Guide Your Destiny
A common reason people become business owners is that they want to have more control over their lives. After all, if you’re working for someone else, your fate is never truly in your own hands. You can always be fired or let go. When you are a business owner however, not only do you have control over your job itself and the tasks you accomplish on a daily basis, but you can also determine who you work with and where you work. You also need to have optimism to keep working with the belief that things are moving in a positive direction.
You are Comfortable with Risk
When you take the role of business owner, you invite a certain degree of risk into your life. That means you are responsible for the success of your business, and you will also have a team of people depending on you. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear vision for the business before you take on the responsibility. You are likely to invest a great deal of your own money into the venture. You may even have to put up valuable assets as collateral, such as your house. You may also have to make sacrifices such as taking a reduced income as the business gets off the ground. It’s important for business owners to possess the inner strength to stay motivated and on track to keep the business growing.
You are Motivated
People who make good business owners are typically inspired by the idea of growing their income, and they are willing to put in the work to achieve that goal. The idea of making key decisions to grow their business is something they find exciting. The truth is, the longer you own your business, the more money you will make. Often you will have to exercise patience in order to reap the financial benefits you’re seeking.
You are Collaborative
Not everyone is great at collaboration. As a business owner however, you will need to work well with others for the business to be a success. It’s rare to do everything on your own. That’s why you need to be a good communicator and will need to be talented at managing others. Great business owners are bosses that are disciplined, self-aware and able to operate comfortably with a high degree of vulnerability.
Before you decide to own a business, it makes sense to do some self-reflection to ensure that your personality really does lend itself to being a business owner. If you have questions about what owning a business entails, be sure to discuss this topic with a business broker or M&A advisor.
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