Chaldean entrepreneurs will mostly agree that buying a business is not simple; in fact, it is almost similar to starting a new venture. The struggle of finding a business that matches your capabilities and investigating the business potential to remain profitable is just the beginning. Buying a business requires the same thoroughness as creating a business plan for starting a business.
Edward Putrus, owner of West Coast Electrical Warehouse Supplies in Arizona says the ability to make a good business great is different than creating a new business. Anthony Jurjus, an associate partner in the firm Rosen, Russel, and Silverman Consulting, PLC is a commercial real estate agent and business broker who often helps Chaldeans in finding and buying businesses. “Anyone buying a business needs to do be careful, have a strategy, be patient, and persistent,” says Jurjus.
Jurjus suggest Chaldeans follow a 10-step process in guarantying the business they buy is the right one.
1. Like the start of a business plan, the business for sale must match the personal and financial objectives of the buyer. It is important that the personal and financial goals are written out before you begin your search. The Business Playbook should include a "target business profile,” listing a set of specific criteria for what you expect, what you are willing to invest, the acceptable level of risk, the minimum expected return, and the time you can devote to learning and managing the business.
2. It is important that Chaldeans locate business opportunities with the potential to grow and offer an attractive return on investment. Finding these potential opportunities can be difficult. Places to look include reading classified advertisements, networking in the community, discussing opportunities with business brokers, spreading the word throughout the community that you are looking for a business, and checking industry sources. Resist the temptation to buy the first business that looks good; step back and look at it objectively.
3. Always make an appointment to see the business sellers or brokers for an initial introduction to the opportunity. Ask that they provide you with brief financial reports, history, price, and reason for sale. This will allow you to know more about the business, how long it has been for sale and the financing adjustments that need to be made.
4. If the information they give looks good and the business seems to be sound, be sure to request for additional meetings to probe for more information. It is important to look at a business at different angles.
5. Review the facility closely to determine how well it has been managed and maintained. For service businesses, talk with the employees and even customers. You might need to provide the seller a “A letter of intent” that shows you are a serious buyer. The letter will help encourage the seller to provide more information. Prepare a checklist of information needed, which should include the following:
- A complete financial accounting of operations, including all income tax returns and state sales tax forms, for at least the past three years or from the beginning of operations if not established that long.
- Listing of all assets to be transferred to the new owner, including item breakdown of all inventory as of the last accounting period.
- A statement as to any legal action past or pending against the present operation.
- A copy of the business lease or mortgage.
- A list of all major suppliers to the business to include names and addresses of those to contact who are familiar with the operation.
6. Upon a satisfactory personal examination of all information received the potential buyer should then visit:
- An accountant for further interpretation of financial information.
- The landlord or mortgage holder to inquire about the transfer of the premise to a new owner. In the case of a lease, the expiration date should be discussed and if possible renegotiated to the intentions of the new owner. An on-site review of the facility should be conducted to assure it is in satisfactory condition.
- Research the future of the market and the location. Be sure to look into demographic changes, road changes, legislation that might impact the business. Many business owners sell a business upon learning of some legal or city hardship, hoping the buyer will be unaware of the issue.
- Check with vendors that sell to the business to validate the sales reported and an opinion as to the likelihood of future growth of the business.
7. Request permission from the seller to allow you to spend time at the operation observing and surveying customer satisfaction.
8. Determine a fair price to offer for the business. It should be noted, however, that there is no universally accepted formula for determining business worth. Some of the approaches include book value and capitalization-of-earnings approach.
Before you present your offer to the seller, determine what financing arrangements can be made available through a lending institution or the seller.
Present the “Intent to Offer” in writing to the seller and be sure to include the appropriate business clauses such as accuracy of information, lending approval, and confirmation of pending legal actions to name a few. Always include in the letter that the acceptance of the intent precludes the seller from negotiating with other buyers for some period of time so that the potentially costly efforts to investigate liens, financial information, and market analysis are able to be completed.
Normally, at this point, there will be negotiation. The more information that you have collected and analyzed, the more confident you will be in presenting your case.
As the buyer, you will have to use your best persuasion techniques to convince the seller your offer is fair and the advantages to the seller of accepting the offer. Be prepared to walk away if a major obstacle prevents you from obtaining important objectives.
9. If an agreement is reached contact an attorney to draw up a suitable sales contract and research state records for any liens against the property for failure to pay a debt.
The contract should be contingent upon examinations of all assets to validate what is represented is true.
10. Before signing a sales contract, the buyer should be present when a final inventory count of assets, including inventory, is taken.