The time you invest getting to know and understand your customers is time very well spent. The feedback you get is gold, pure gold. Yet, there are other reasons why this is a prudent move. Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons you should learn more about your customers and their specific needs.
Today’s world has become increasingly impersonal. Most of us spend a shocking amount of time looking at one type of digital screen or another. Personal interaction isn’t what it once was, and you can use that fact to help build your business.
The Ultimate Form of Customer Service
Good old fashioned human contact goes a long way when it comes to keeping customers happy, loyal and returning. The personal touch can go a long way towards building your business by improving customer service. Customer service has become, in general, a very impersonal experience for most people in the modern world.
In most businesses, the owner is more of an impersonal theoretic concept that an actual being; after all, how often do you meet the owners of the businesses that you frequent? As a business owner, when was the last time that you got on the phone or had lunch with a good customer? The truth is that customers and clients enjoy working directly with owners, and it makes them feel more connected with a business. An owner who is working directly with his or her customers or clients is engaged in a powerful form of customer service.
Investing time to build your business’s key relationships is a prudent step. When was the last time that you took a moment to contact your accountant, banker, legal adviser or other key people that support your business, such as key suppliers? The time you invest communicating with these key people and institutions is time well-spent especially should a problem ever arise. Since most communication is now done online, a handwritten thank you note or a quick phone call can go a long way towards maintaining and building relationships.
It is important to rise above all the background noise of life. One of the best ways of doing so is to invest the time to add a personal touch.
Owning and operating a business shouldn’t be a stealthy activity. Instead, you the business owner should be out front meeting with customers, suppliers and other key people. Running a business isn’t a “backroom” operation, so go out there and meet your customers and other key people! This is how you build and protect your business.
It is common for executives at companies to undergo an annual physical. Likewise, these same executives will likely examine their own investments at least once a year, if not more often. However, rather perplexingly, these same capable and responsible executives never consider giving their company an annual physical unless required to do so by rule or regulations.
Most Business Owners Don’t Know
Recently, a leading CPA firm undertook a study that was quite revealing. In particular, this study concluded that a whopping 65% of business owners don’t know the value of their company and 75% of the surveyed business owners had their net worth tied up in their businesses. Phrased another way, 75% of business owners don’t know how much they are worth! Perhaps most striking of all was the fact that a full 85% of business owners have no exit strategy whatsoever.
Having Recurrent Valuations is a Must
Business owners should know what their businesses are worth at least on an annual basis. Situations, both personal as well as in the economy at large, can change very rapidly. A failure to have a valuation leaves one exposed if issues suddenly arise involving estate planning or divorce or even partnership issues. These are just two examples of potential problems.
It is also vital to understand how your business compares to last year and previous years; after all, valuations should be increasing not decreasing. A valuation can also help you understand how your business compares to other businesses. Perhaps most importantly, an annual valuation can help you spot and fix problems.
“Buy, Sell or Get Out of the Way”
If you don’t know your valuation, then you truly don’t know where you are headed. As former Chrysler CEO, Lee Iacocca once stated, “Buy, sell or get out of the way.”
Standing still isn’t an option. You need to know your valuation in order to take full advantage of opportunities. You may feel that an acquisition isn’t the right move at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready! Having a current valuation means you’re ready to go if opportunity does, in fact, knock!
You never know when a potential acquirer may enter the picture. Imagine missing out on a tremendous opportunity because you didn’t have a valuation in place. Often hot offers and hot opportunities depend on speed. The time it takes to get a valuation could mean that the opportunity is no longer available. An accurate annual valuation of your business provides a valuable option whether you choose to exercise it or not.
Not every prospective buyer actually buys a business. In fact, out of 15 prospective buyers, only 1 actually makes a purchase. Sellers should remember that being a buyer can be stressful. The bottom line is that buying a business is usually one of the single largest financial decisions that a person can make. In this article, we are going to explore a few of the reasons why being a buyer can be both stressful and taxing. Keeping a buyer’s perspective in mind will help you on the road to successfully selling your business.
A prospective buyer has many decisions to make before he or she decides to buy a business. Many prospective buyers are employed, and that means they will have to leave their existing job in order to buy a business. Simply stated, a buyer will have to leave the safety and security of their job and “strike out on their own.”
There are also other substantial financial concerns for buyers as well. The majority of buyers will, in fact, have to take out loans in order to purchase a business. Additionally, the new owner will need to execute a lease or assume the existing list. At the end of the day there exist an array of weighty business decisions that a buyer must make.
Ultimately, a buyer has to decide whether or not he or she is ready to take a giant step and purchase a business. This is more than just a financial decision. The enormity of the decision to purchase a business is such that touches every aspect of a person’s life. Owning a business can be very time consuming and demand a great deal of one’s attention. The end result, is that buying a business has a direct impact on both one’s financial life and one’s personal life. Owning a business can be extremely time consuming and this is particularly true for new business owners.
Prospective buyers need to weigh all the factors involved in buying a business. Caution must be exercised. Buyers need to step back and fully assess whether or not owning a business is right for them both on a personal and financial level. When sellers put themselves in their buyer’s “shoes,” things begin to look a bit differently.
When it comes to buying or selling a business, the assistance of a business broker is invaluable. A business broker understands what is involved in owning a business and can help both buyers and sellers evaluate the pros and cons of any transaction.
Business owners considering selling should realize that they have many different types of prospective buyers. Today’s prospective business buyers are more sophisticated and diverse than ever before. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of prospective buyers and what you should know about each of them.
1. Family Members
Family members often buy businesses from other family members. There are many reasons this happens. For example, a family member is already very familiar with the business. If a family member is treating the responsibility seriously and has prepared years in advance for the responsibility of owning the business, then selling to a family member can work.
However, there are many potential problems when it comes to selling a business to a family member. One problem is that the family member simply lacks the cash to buy the business. This can cause disruptions. If the family member is unprepared to run the business, then the business can suffer a range of disruptions leading to a loss of business. Any family member that buys a business must be ready for the responsibility. An outside buyer usually solves all of the problems that come along with a family member buying a business.
2. The Individual Buyer
Most owners of small to mid-size businesses like the idea of selling to an individual buyer. Often these buyers are older between the ages of 40 and 60, and bring with them a good deal of real world business experience acquired in the corporate world. For these buyers, owning a business is a dream come true. Many individual buyers have the funds necessary to buy.
An individual buyer who is looking to replace a job that has been lost or downsized is often an excellent candidate. On the downside, individual buyers quite often have not owned a business before and may be intimidated by what is involved. At the end of the day, the individual buyer is often easier to deal with than other types of buyers.
3. Business Competitor
It is quite common for business owners to look to their competitors when it comes time to sell. No doubt, the approach of selling to a competitor makes sense, as a competitor already understands the business and will likely see the value.
Additionally, a buyer may see buying a similar business as an easy way to expand and increase cash flow. That stated, it is extremely important to work with a business broker in this situation. By going through a business broker, it is possible to have a secure confidentiality agreement in place so that the prospective buyer doesn’t learn the name of the business or other details before signing the agreement.
4. The Foreign Buyer
Foreign buyers often have the funds they need and look at buying an existing business as a way of addressing such issues as language barrier, licensing difficulties and other problems. Business brokers can be very helpful when working with foreign buyers, as they have experience with the obstacles a foreign buyer may face.
5. Synergistic Buyers
A synergistic buyer is one that feels that a particular business would complement his or her existing business. The idea is that they can combine the two businesses and in the process, lower their cost and acquire new customers. These are just a few of the advantages for a synergistic buyer, and that is why they are often willing to pay more than other buyers.
6. Financial Buyers
Financial buyers can come with a long list of demands, criteria and complications, but that doesn’t mean that they should be discounted. With the assistance of a business broker, financial buyers can still be good prospective candidates.
It is, however, important to remember that these buyers want maximum leverage and are often a good option for the seller who wants to continue to manage a company after it is sold. It is common for financial buyers to offer a lower purchase price than other types of buyers. After all, buying the business is strictly for financial purposes and it isn’t attached to fulfilling a dream or a family tradition. Financial buyers are looking for a business that is generating sufficient profits so as to support the business and provide a good return to the owner.
Working with a business broker can help you find the right kind of buyer for you. Every business is different and every prospective buyer is different. A business broker can help you navigate the possibilities so you find the right buyer for your business.
Confidentiality is a major concern in virtually every business. Quite often business owners become a little nervous when it comes time to sell their business; after all, business owners usually want to keep the fact that they are selling confidential. Yet, at the same time, business owners want to receive top-dollar for their businesses and sell that business as quickly as possible. In order to sell a business quickly and receive top-dollar, it is usually necessary to present the business to a range of prospects. The simple fact is that you can’t sell a business without letting prospective buyers know that it is for sale.
All of this adds up to one simple conclusion: you will need a confidentiality agreement when selling a business. Let’s look at a few of the key points your confidentiality agreement should cover.
- Type of Negotiations
First, your confidentiality agreement should cover whether or not the negotiations are open or secret and exactly what kind of information can be disclosed.
2. Duration of Agreement
Your confidentiality agreement must specify exactly how long the agreement will be in effect. In most circumstances, it is prudent for the seller to seek a permanently binding confidentiality agreement.
3. Special Considerations
There are other considerations as well, for example, does your business hold any patents? A buyer could learn about your inventions during a buying process so you’ll want to make sure that your confidentiality agreement protects your patent and copyright interests as well.
4. State Laws
Additionally, your confidentiality agreement must factor in different state laws if the other party is based in a state different than your own.
5. Recourse in the Case of Breach
Finally, your confidentiality agreement should outline what recourse you will have if the agreement is breached. Having a confidentiality agreement does not offer magical protection against a violation. However, a confidentiality agreement does ensure that prospective buyers understand the seriousness of the situation and that there are indeed severe consequences if the agreement is not followed.
It is important for all parties involved to realize that a confidentiality agreement is a legally binding agreement that is enforceable in a court a law. Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, a seller can share confidential information with a prospective buyer or business broker so that a business can be properly evaluated.
With so much on the line, it is vital that you have your confidentiality agreement drawn up by a legal professional. A good confidentiality agreement is an investment in your business. It is possible for a business owner to sell his or her business and do so with some degree of confidence that information shared with prospective buyers will not be disclosed.
How the purchase of a company and the business financing terms accompanying it are structured, is something that must be dealt with early on in the selling process. The simple fact is that when utilizing business financing for the purchase of a business it is too important to treat as an afterthought. The final structure of any sale will be the result of the negotiations between buyer and seller. Business sellers should have a good idea of some of the most common deal terms that are in the majority of business sales.
In order for the sale to be completed in a satisfactory manner, it is vital that the seller answers these six key questions about selling and business financing:
- What is your lowest “rock bottom” price? It is important for sellers to know what is the lowest price they are willing to accept before they begin negotiations. Far too often, sellers have not determined what price is their “lowest price” and this can literally cause negotiations to fall apart.
- What are the tax consequences of the sale? Just as sellers often don’t know what their lowest price is, it is also true that sellers often don’t think about the tax consequences of the sale.
- Interest rates are no small matter. It is important to determine what is an acceptable interest rate in the event of a seller-financed sale.
- Have unsecured creditors been paid off? Does the seller plan on paying for a portion of the closing costs?
- Will the buyer seek business financing through SBA or Conventional loans and have to assume any long-term or secured debt? *For much more valuable info on SBA Loans- please read our SBA Loans Fact Sheet Here.
- Will the business be able to service the debt and still give a return that is acceptable to a buyer?
Studies have indicated that there is a direct relationship between more favorable terms and a higher price. In particular, one study revealed that offering favorable terms could increase the total selling price by as much as 30 percent!
Business brokers and M&A Intermediaries are experts in what it takes to successfully buy and sell businesses, and this is exactly the kind of insight and information that they have at their disposal. Experienced brokers are able to use their knowledge of everything from current market conditions and financing strategies to the knowledge of previous sales and a given geographic region to help facilitate successful deals.
Usually, selling a business is one of the most important things that a business owner does in his or her professional lifetime. Some realtors will say that selling your home is the biggest and most important financial transaction of a person life. Well guess what? Selling a home is peanuts to an entrepreneur whom is selling his business. Business brokers understand this fact, and they understand the importance of making certain that the deal is structured correctly. The facts are that the way in which a sale is structured could mean the difference between success and failure.
Structuring a deal in such a way where it is the best possible deal for both the buyer and seller, helps to ensure that a deal is successfully concluded. Working with a business broker is one of the best way to ensure that a business will be sold.
SBA Loans Fact Sheet: http://acquisitionspro.com/sba-loans-fact-sheet-everything-need-know-buy-business/
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You may hear the word “Goodwill” thrown around a lot, especially during business valuation and/or buying and selling a business, but what does it really mean? When it comes to selling your business, the term refers to all the “sweat equity” that the seller put into a business during his/her ownership tenure. Goodwill can be thought of as the difference between the various tangible assets that a business has and the overall purchase price.
The M&A Dictionary defines goodwill in the following way, “An intangible fixed asset that is carried as an asset on the balance sheet, such as a recognizable brand, product name, or strong reputation. When one company pays more than the net book value for another, the former is typically paying for goodwill. Goodwill is often viewed as an approximation of the value of a company’s brand names, reputation, or long-term relationships that cannot otherwise be represented financially.”
Goodwill vs. Going-Concern
Now, it is important not to confuse goodwill value with “going-concern value,” as the two are definitely not the same. Going-concern value is typically defined by experts, as the fact that the business will continue to operate in a manner that is consistent with its intended purpose as opposed to failing or being liquidated. For most business owners, goodwill is seen as good service, products and reputation, all of which, of course, matters greatly.
Below is a list of some of the items that can be listed under the term “goodwill.” As you will notice, the list is surprisingly diverse.
42 Examples of Goodwill Items that Drive Core Value
- Phantom Assets
- Local Economy
- Industry Ratios
- Custom-Built Factory
- Loyal Customer Base
- Supplier List
- Delivery Systems
- Experienced Design Staff
- Growing Industry
- Recession Resistant Industry
- Low Employee Turnover
- Skilled Employees
- Trade Secrets
- Mailing List
- Royalty Agreements
- Technologically Advanced Equipment
- Advertising Campaigns
- Advertising Materials
- Computer Databases
- Computer Designs
- Credit Files
- Engineering Drawings
- Favorable Financing
- Government Programs
- Training Procedures
- Proprietary Designs
- Systems and Procedures
- Employee Manual
- Name Recognition
As you can tell, goodwill, as it pertains to a business, is not an easily defined term. It is also very important to keep in mind that what goodwill is and how it is represented on a company’s financial statements are two different things.
Here is an example: a company sells for $2 million dollars but has only $1 million in tangible assets. The balance of $1 million dollars was considered goodwill and goodwill can be amortized by the acquirer over a 15-year period. All of this was especially impactful on public companies as an acquisition could negatively impact earnings which, in turn, negatively impacted stock price, so public companies were often reluctant to acquire firms in which goodwill was a large part of the purchase price. On the flip side of the coin, purchasers of non-public firms received a tax break due to amortization.
The Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) created new rules and standards pertaining to goodwill and those rules and standards were implemented on July 1, 2001. Upon the implementation of these rules and standards, goodwill may not have to be written off, unless the goodwill is carried at a value that is in excess of its real value. Now, the standards require companies to have intangible assets, which include goodwill, valued by an outside expert on an annual basis. These new rules work to define the difference between goodwill and other intangible assets as well as how they are to be treated in terms of accounting and tax reporting.
Before you buy a business or put a business up for sale, it is a good idea to talk to the professionals. The bottom line is that goodwill can still represent all the hard work a seller put into a business; however, that hard work must be accounted for differently than in years past and with more detail.
Generally speaking when you purchase another business, you are only buying the assets of that business. In other words, you are not buying the entity. Why not? Well, the entity could have a lot of skeletons in the closet. If the previous owner had made a mistake on a tax return and that mistake led to $100,000 in damages for the client, as the new owner do you want that responsibility or exposure? Nope.
There are circumstances where an asset sale is NOT ideal. At times the entity holds a license that is non-transferrable such as a liquor license or the entity has a contract with the government that took 7 years to bid and be awarded, and is also non-transferrable. But for most transactions, you will be executing an asset sale.
Within that asset sale is allocation of assets. Buyers and sellers have competing interests on price of course, but they also have competing interests on tax consequences. And to add to the complication, based on each party’s unique circumstances, a buyer and seller’s interests might be in concert with each other. In other words, an asset allocation might provide a favorable tax position for the buyer because of his or her own tax world, while still providing a favorable or at least neutral tax position for the seller. And these issues can affect the purchase price as well.
As business consultants, the Business Acquisition Experts is very aware of these competing interests and how they interplay with price negotiations. Let us help!
Let’s review some basics.
|Accounts Receivable*||Class III||NA||Ordinary Income|
|Inventory, Book Value||Class IV||NA||None|
|Fixed Assets||Class V||Amortized, Varies||Recapture / Gain|
|Intangibles||Class VI||Amortized, 15 Years||Capital Gain|
|Goodwill||Class VII||Amortized, 15 Years||Capital Gain|
|Non-Compete||NA||Amortized, 15 Years||Ordinary Income|
|Consulting Agreements||NA||Expensed||Income + SE Tax|
* Sellers using an accrual method of accounting would not recognize income for the sale of their Accounts Receivable
The IRS breaks assets into classes, and essentially once you’ve allocated everything to Class I thru Class VI, whatever is left over is then considered Goodwill. So if the price is $200,000 and all your assets add up to $150,000, then you are also purchasing $50,000 in Goodwill.
For more on selling your business and how to negotiate the many parameters of a deal contact Business Acquisition Experts today!
Buying a business requires a good deal of capital and/or willingness from the current owner to offer Seller Financing. The bottom line is that a large percentage of buyers don’t have the necessary capital or lender resources to pay cash and that is where seller financing comes into play. The fact is that seller financing is quite common. In this article, we will take a deeper look at some of the key points to remember.
Is Seller Financing a Good Idea?
Many buyers feel that a seller’s reluctance to provide seller financing is a “red flag.” The notion is that if a business is truly as good as the seller claims it to be, then providing financing shouldn’t be a “scary” proposition. The truth is that this notion does carry some weight in reality. The primary reason that many sellers are reluctant to provide seller financing is that they are concerned that the buyer will be unsuccessful. This, of course, means that if the buyer fails to make payments, that the seller could be forced to take the business back or even forfeit the balance of the note.
However, it is important for sellers to look at the facts. Sellers who sell for all cash receive approximately 70% of the asking price; however, sellers receive approximately 86% of the asking price when they offer terms!
Seller Financing has a Range of Benefits
Here are a few of the most important benefits associated with seller financing: the seller receives a considerably higher price, sellers can get a much higher interest rate from a buyer than they can receive from a financial institution, the interest on a seller-financed deal will add significantly to the actual selling price, there are tax benefits to seller financing versus an all-cash sale and, finally, financing the sale serves as a vote of confidence in the buyer.
Clearly there are no guarantees that the buyer will be successful in operating the business. Yet, it is key that sellers remember that in most situations the buyers are putting a large percentage of their personal wealth into the purchase of the business. In other words, in most situations, the buyer is heavily invested even if financing is involved.
Business brokers excel in helping buyers and sellers discover creative ways to finance the sale of a business. Your broker can recommend a range of payment options and plans that can, in the end, often make the difference between a successful sale and failure.
We’ve outlined below a few unexpected aspects of the business sale process that can pop up. Sometimes they severely impact the turnaround time of a sale. But if you can understand these potential issues better, you will be better prepared to try to circumvent them.
1. Do You Have Time on Your Side?
It’s helpful to use an intermediary who will assist with the filtering of prospects vs. “suspects.” However, the inclusion of yet another party, in addition to both the business seller and potential buyers, increases the amount of time required to navigate the process.
Sellers are typically unaware of the time and documentation needed to compile the required Offering Memorandum. Once completed, the seller must provide both the intermediary and potential buyer more time to review and propose meetings and pricing. In the interim, owners are faced with the challenge of keeping their business thriving.
2. Trying to Do Too Much
It’s not surprising when a company owner is also its founder that individual is typically used to making all of the decisions. That’s why business owners in the midst of selling will soon find themselves challenged with the desire to fully be a part of both the selling process and the running of the business.
Delegation to someone else, such as the Sales Manager, can be truly invaluable. Think of your top people as extremely valuable resources. They may have first-hand knowledge regarding additional concerns such as competition and potentially interested acquirers. Bringing in trusted employees to be part of the sales process can be tremendously beneficial.
3. Delays Due to Stockholders
When mid-sized, privately held companies are supported by minority stockholders, these individuals must be included in the selling process—however small their share may be. The business owner will need to firstly obtain their approval to sell by using the sale price and terms as influencers. Of course, issues such as competing interests, pricing disagreements, and even inter-family concerns may cause conflict and further delay the process.
4. Money Issues
Once sellers decide upon a price that they would like to see, it is sometimes difficult for them to accept or even consider anything less. After all, a business owner likely created the company and may have a strong emotional attachment.
Another factor that often interferes with a successful sale occurs when sellers instantly turn down offers because they don’t meet with their desired asking price.
That’s when the intermediary can often come in to salvage the deal. A business broker often serves as a negotiator. He or she can work out a deal that is structured in a manner that works for both sides.