Financing the Purchase of a Small Business

Financing the Purchase of a Small Business

If only I was paid a dime for every buyer that has came to me thinking they can finance a business with no money down. The truth is and this has absolutely nothing to do with the current financial crisis. You cannot finance a business with no money down. Now before the emails start filling my mailbox up with exceptions please let me explain myself.

Financing a small business requires one of these 2 options: A down payment from the buyer and seller financing for the balance, or a 100% purchase by the buyer with no seller financing. Let’s discuss them in more detail.

Down Payment & Seller Financing:

No seller in their right mind will sell a business without some form of down payment. The buyer must have an equity investment into the business for the seller to feel comfortable financing the balance and more importantly turning the business over to a new owner. Without this equity, the buyer has no exposure and could simply walk away at any time.

The typical down payment on a small business with seller financing will completely vary from deal to deal. The motivation of the seller will play a huge roll in this equation. One seller may accept 20%, another can be as high as 80%. Typically sellers would like to see the down payment close to 50%.

Terms of the Seller Financing Note:

Negotiate with the seller financing so that you are 100% comfortable in being able to cover the debt service out off the income from the business. A good place to start would be to look at a seller note amortized over 5 years (60 months) at 6 or 7% interest. (Use a mortgage calculator or auto calculator at Bankrate.com to calculate the payment) On larger transactions, the financing can spread over possibly 10 years with a balloon payment due in 5 years. A balloon payment means you will be required to pay the balance off on the last payment.

So now that we know a down payment will be required, where and how do we get the money? There are several sources from personal savings, family, friends, private investors, and banks.

Bank financing the down payment or 100% of the Purchase:

If you decide to use a bank for your financing method on the down payment there are a couple key facts to understand. Today banks are requiring buyers to put down a minimum of 15 – 20% down payment. This is money you must come up with to get the loan. In addition, you will need to have experience in the industry or least management experience and a good credit score to even qualify for the loan. Yes, that’s right. You will need to have a good credit score. Next, they will take a very close look at 3 years financial history on the business. If the business does not have strong financial tax records then you need to be considering a personal loan from the bank because a business loan is out of the question.

Personal Loan:

If you have good credit you may be able to qualify for a personal loan from the bank to use as the down payment or purchase. You may have a home you can refinance, a CD to borrow against, or another asset that can help secure the loan.

The Common Misconception from Bankers:

It is very common for bankers that do not specialize in SBA loans to unfortunately mislead buyers into believing they can easily give them a loan. It is not the bankers fault in this; they are just trying to bring in new business to the bank. The truth is very few bankers know anything about buying or financing a business. In my opinion, they just bring the new application in, process the loan and it’s the team of underwriters behind the scene that are the decision makers and who have the restrictions set in place. The best way to find a qualified SBA loan broker is to contact your local Business Broker and ask for their opinion. Business Brokers are an excellent resource for financing.

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