With any good start, all parties need to have a set of expectations around what will happen in the future to avoid misunderstandings. My commitment is to engage in your business sale or purchase with passion and drive to make it happen. Therefore, I need to know that you are ALL IN so the time we spend together is well worth our investment.
The measuring stick for business are its financials, so when you are SELLING your business, we must have financials that indicate your revenue, expenses, and lease rate and terms before we can start. Buyers will ask for it in their first inquiry and we want to be ready to help them move forward. If you use taxes as your financial reference, we will redact your personal information. If you have a largely cash-based business, we unfortunately, cannot represent the cash portion of your business to the Buyer as it is not verifiable. You may speak to the Buyer about this in person when you meet with them, however.
Similarly, when you are BUYING a business, we want to distinguish you from other buyers based on your ability to finance the business. We will ask you for a Personal Financial Statement. It will help you negotiate a good deal if we can have a picture of your financials or, better yet, you are pre-qualified with the bank.
Most people’s reference around brokers and agents comes from real estate (different than a business broker), where one agent represents the seller and the other represents the buyer, pitting one agent vs. another on what can be a contentious outcome and sometimes a lost deal. In business brokerage, the role of the agent to bring together the parties in a transaction that is mutually beneficial.
In a home sale, the buyer and seller may never meet, but in a business sale, the buyer relies on the seller to transition and train them. Both parties acting in a virtual partnership for a period of time, not at odds, yields the best outcome. Therefore, while I reward agents for their referrals with a finders fee, I will document and manage the transaction for both parties and assemble a transaction that is guided by each party. Should either party want representation for only THEIR side, I will reduce my finders fee by the cost of a LegalShield attorney. (Their fees are predictable, they have experienced staff specialized in business transactions, and they have national coverage). They will be a great legal advocates for you during the negotiation, if needed.
In working with both parties, there are several codes of conduct. Some of our own and some borrowed from the world of real estate agency:
P|E Agent will not reveal unpublished pricing information to either party. The seller and buyer establish their own offer price or asking price which is delivered by the Agent.
P|E Agent will keeping all information confidential, even after the transaction.
P|E Agent will keep the buyer's motivations for buying confidential.
P|E Agent will take no action that is adverse or detrimental to the parties’ interest in a transaction.
P|E Agent will advise and support the use of experts when needed.
If you do not wish to enter into a relationship on this basis, we will make arrangements to help you find a more suitable situation whether that is ti find legal representation, a business advisor, or accountant.
When sharing financial information, I will first obtain a signed NDA from prospective buyers ensuring that your financials will not be shared.
Sellers, if you’re listing your business anonymously, we will review your listing together before it is published to ensure that we maintain confidence in your business. All Buyers will be instructed not to speak with employees or otherwise disrupt business.
If you are seeking a bank loan, take into account that the end-to-end timeline for obtaining cash can be months. Here’s how can you shave off some of this time so when you buy you are able to offer an all-cash sale, thus reducing your price:
Get pre-qualified - Most banks will pre-qualify you and give you a letter which shows strength in an offer to a business owner.
Start SBA Loan early - you can start the SBA process before you make an offer on a business. The bank will look at your personal financials and see what loan size you can afford.
Try to use Lines of Credit when possible. LOCs are fast and secured but be careful what you offer for collateral and read the fine print.
Seek alternative loans: See my post on non-conventional loans for scenarios with CRAFT3 or Business Impact NW, when you might not qualify for a traditional loan. There are also alternatives such as Invoice Financing, Equipment Financing
Check online: The options vary dramatically for online loans, but be careful to check into the background of the lenders you work with there. Here is a place to start which tracks the current business loan offerings, and there are many more with interest ranges including Lendio, Kabbage, and more. If you’d like to apply for an SBA loan in one place, you may start here.
Pick a strong lending agent. If you are seeking a lender, I would start with one of the following resources for SBA, HELOC, and/or Conventional loans. I have worked with these Bank VPs on SBA and conventional loans and found them to be exceptional in moving the loans forward:
Allison Mann, Vice President, SBA Division
U.S. Bank Plaza
10800 NE 8th St, Suite 1000, Bellevue, WA 98004
Carrie Callaway Cardy, Vice President
Senior SBA Relationship Manager
Key4Women Certified Advisor
1301 Fifth Ave, 24th Floor, Seattle, WA 98101