After consulting (BizBen.com ProBuy Program) with California business buyers for over 25 years I highly encourage them to have a "buying a business checklist", an important tool if they are serious about purchasing a company and not wasting a lot of time looking.
Only 20% of all potential business buyers within California actually end up purchasing a small business.
I have found that the failure to buy a California business can be chalked up to not following the proven suggestions listed below.
The main items that should go into that checklist are:
1. Getting personally prepared: This includes putting together a buyer profile, including financial statement, description of what you want, and a resume summarizing your work experience. These documents demonstrate you are a "real" buyer, deserving of cooperation from sellers, business brokers, and agents. The information is personal, of course, and should only be shown to sellers who have a business you might want, or brokers whom you believe are honest and professional. Willingness to be upfront about your interests and capabilities will immediately separate you from the majority of people searching for business opportunities but, for one reason or another, will never complete a purchase. Another preparation strategy is to apply for an SBA-backed loan pre-qualification. Buyers who do this find out how much money they will have to work with, and can gain a competitive advantage over buyers who look for a business first, and look for money second.
2. Organizing a team: The purchaser who has a lawyer and accountant listed on his or her buying a business checklist will be in a position to move quickly once an interesting business is found. This means of course that the professionals are ready to be of service--the lawyer helping with language in the contracts and protecting you from problems, the accountant to help value a business and conduct due diligence. While other buyers interested in a particular business are trying to find the professional help they'll need to proceed, the entrepreneur who has taken care of that step will be able to move more quickly than competing purchasers.
3. Cast a wide net. The more businesses you're aware of, the better the chances of encountering just the right offering in a short period of time. That means working with more than one broker, answering for sale by owner ads, even posting a business wanted to buy request on a site such as BizBen.com.
4. Respect the sellers' requests for confidentiality. And be ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Showing that you are honest and "above board" will earn the cooperation of sellers. And without that, it's nearly impossible to buy a business.
5. Try for a win-win in negotiations with someone whose business you'd like to buy. The purchaser who wants to beat a seller in the price and terms aspects of a deal, might find he's taken "round one" but then when extra help is needed--a bit longer to pay off the note or advice about some confusing aspect of running the company--the seller will be unwilling to accommodate.
6. Pay attention to the details when a transaction is in the escrow/bulk sale process. After all the work and excitement as you come to the end of the buying a business checklist, it's a shame to lose a deal over some issue that might have been avoided had you noticed a developing problem and taken action right away. Make certain the escrow holder is competent and is doing everything that was promised.
Buying a small business is not rocket science, but it can be rather complicated and detailed. Make sure to be fully prepared, and that includes making up a buying a business checklist before you answer the first business for sale ad!
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - CA
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Brad Steinberg, Business Broker: Laundromat Specialist
PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.
|Janet Carrera: Escrow & Bulk Sale Service - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence
Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.
|Shalonda Chappel: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California
Escrow services to brokers/agents, sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services. 951-808-3972.
|William F. Ziprick, Attorney: Legal Services For Buyers And Sellers
Through creative problem solving, attention to detail, accessibility, & understanding that unnecessary delay is often a deal killer, I work closely with my clients and other professionals to consistently achieve a high rate of successful closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.
|Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - San Francisco Bay Area
McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.
|Helen Yoo, New Century Escrow - Escrow Services In Southern California
New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Tips For Faster SBA Loan Approvals For California Small Business Purchases
In this article on BizBen, business purchase financing advisor and SBA loan broker, consultant Peter Siegel (Business Purchase Financing Expert/Advisor & the ProBuy Program Director at BizBen) at 925-785-3118 shares his views of getting SBA loan financing faster for business purchase financing.
|How To Determine Whether The Buyer For Your Business For Sale Is Sincere
A problem owners encounter when offering a CA business for sale is that not all so-called business buyers are qualified to make the purchase. It's frustrating and costly to waste time showing non-qualified buyers the business. Here are ways to identify time wasters so the focus is on real buyers.
|Unreported Income: Should Sellers Disclose Unreported Cash To Buyers?
Should owners who offer a business for sale reveal to prospective buyers any income that is not recorded in the books? This is a controversial topic with arguments both for and against. Most business sales intermediaries believe if you don't pay tax on it, you can't claim it. Some sellers disagree.
|Valuing A Business - Do You Add The Inventory Amount To The Price Or Not?
A business buyer asks how to handle the inventory amount in the purchase price of a business. Do you add the inventory value to the business value? Peter Siegel, MBA (ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor - Lead Facilitator ) answers this question with the BizBen Network of advisors and resources.
|Financing A Business Purchase With Limited Or No Real Estate Collateral
In my experience working with the "right banks and financial institutions" repayment ability sometimes overrules collateral pledged by someone needing financing for a business purchase or a down payment. Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert) at 925-785-3118 shares his experience.
|Is There Such A Thing As Paying Too Little When Buying A Small Business?
We all understand the idea of paying too much for a small business. But is there such a thing as not paying enough? That seems like an odd notion, but I'm familiar with situations in which a buyer acquired a small business for a figure substantially under what probably was market value.
|How Many Listings Is Too Many For One Broker To Handle? Is It 5? 10? 20?
Peter Siegel, MBA in this Vlog/Podcast discusses how many listings is too many for one business broker to handle at one time. Is it 5 is it 20? I recently had a coaching call with one of my BizBen broker clients who asked that question this week. There are many factors that go into the answer.
|Why Isn't My Business Selling? 6 Great Questions To Ask Yourself For Answers
It can take months, sometimes longer to sell a small business. Here are 6 questions from Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProSell Program Advisor with BizBen) at 925-785-3118 to ask yourself to help you determine why your small to mid-sized California business isn't selling.