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Should You Knowingly Overpay For A Small Business Purchase?


Should You Knowingly Overpay For A Business

I remember growing up hearing from sellers the following sales pitch for why I should pay them top dollar. "You can get fresh oats for a fair price or you can get oats that have gone through the cow for a lot cheaper." The other one I heard was "Quality remains long after price is forgotten."

After 20 years of being a business broker, I have heard every justification in the world for why this owner's business is special and deserve a price at top market.

The difficulty for a buyer is two fold. The asking prices are presupposing that the report sales and profit are applicable for this time frame, not the civil war. Ninety percent of the time the profit is a lie, which makes the asking price unimportant. For the remaining ten percent, where the profit and sales figures are accurate and based on the current month's numbers, the profit level becomes critical.

If it is a small profit, and only affords the owner a low wage, it is stupid to pay too much just for a job. If the profit is substantial and more then the buyer needs, it might actually make sense to pay top dollar or even more. .

The reason is that in this economic climate, the numbers of businesses making a desirable profit are so small that if you can find one of those "keepers" it is worth paying a premium to get it. If you over pay at least the business profit can support the extra cost and when all the loans are paid off the price will be forgotten.

Of course, if you are lied to about the numbers, then any price you pay is too much. The reason the sellers lie is because they know that if they told you the truth you would not buy the business at any price or at a price so low the seller figures he might as well just keep it.

So first make sure you have the business reviewed in and out and upside down. Put it through the audit from hell, and if it still looks after that, you may have found a diamond. In those rare cases, consider paying what you must, in order to not let that good one, get away.

Willard MichlinAbout The Author:  Willard Michlin, CPA (106752) offers business buyers Due Diligence Services (Second Opinion, Offer Assistance, Final Due Diligence) when they are thinking of making an offer on a business or in the process of investigating a business purchase. Serving all of Southern California. He has written numerous articles on the due diligence process and can be reached direct at 805-428-2063 for more information and an appointment.

Categories: BizBen Blog Contributor, Business Valuation Issues, Deal And Escrow Issues, How To Buy A Business, How To Sell A Business


Comments Regarding This Blog Post


Business buyers, particularly first-timers, need to make a very important distinction between what they are paying themselves to run the business, and what profit they will derive from the business after paying themselves a reasonable salary. Often, business buyers delude themselves by looking at the "bottom line" but not taking into consideration how much of their personal time will be spent running and growing the business.

And the important question about business valuation is that it is highly personal and unique. The correct question is: "What is this business worth TO ME?"

After carefully analyzing the business, burdened by an appropriate salary paid to the new owner (based on the market for the position, NOT based on what the buyer "needs" to be paid) and finding a profit that justifies the price, the buyer can prudently determine that he is not "overpaying." It doesn't really matter if the price is right for some abstract "other buyer" -- it matters that the price is right for the particular buyer.






  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
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.

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.

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.

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 closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.

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.

Larry Larsen: Laundry Consulting, Brokerage, Insurance

I have over forty years of experience in the sales, ownership, management, and construction of coin laundries. He is a licensed broker active in the sale of coin laundries, a licensed insurance agent specializing in coin laundry insurance. Phone me at 714-630-9274 or 714-630-Wash.

Ralph Santos, Business Broker: Health Care Specialist

Using my MBA and my perseverance I will make things happen! I provide business brokerage niche services specializing in the hospice and home health care agency industry in the Los Angeles County or Ventura County areas. For either buying or selling assistance please phone or email me today.


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This seminar focuses on the process of buying & selling a small business. Sat's - Monthly (refreshments will be served) in Southern California. Phone Willard Michlin (CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Expert, Business Broker). Phone 805-428-2063 to RSVP. Click On Link For Schedule.

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