The Top 3 Critical Issues in Buying or Selling a Business

I’m often asked what the top critical issues are in buying or selling a business.  If the top three issues discussed below in the sale or purchase of a business are not properly addressed, then there is a good chance the transaction will fail.

So to get to the core of the question, these are in my opinion the top three issues involved in buying or selling a business:

1. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is critical to the successful transfer of a business.  If word gets out that a business is for sale, several things start happening and none of them are good for the seller or buyer of the business.  First, key employees start looking for other jobs, fearing that a new owner may not retain them.  In the uncertainty, customers may begin shopping elsewhere.  Suppliers get nervous.  Competitors can take advantage of the situation.

This is why a prospective business buyer will be asked to sign a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement early in the process of looking at a possible business acquisition. In this agreement, the potential buyer confirms that he/she will not disclose the fact that the business is for sale except to professional advisors.

If you show that you take the need for confidentiality seriously, you will be regarded as the professional that you are.

2. Valuation

Nothing causes the buyers and sellers of businesses more anxiety than the issue of valuation. The question of selling price haunts both parties. The seller doesn’t want to price his business too low and “leave money on the table.”  On the other hand, the buyer of the business is afraid he’ll pay too much and not get the best possible price.

Formal, fully documented business appraisals are now readily available.  In addition, there are rules of thumb guidelines that can be used to quickly estimate the value of a business.  As just one example, we know that a full service restaurant with a liquor license is worth about 30% of its annual gross revenue as an ongoing business.  This assumes – big assumption – that the business is earning the average bottom line profit for its peer group.

There are rules of thumb guidelines for almost all categories of business from ice cream stands to manufacturing plants.  But again, these guidelines provide only quick estimates.  And written, fully documented business appraisals are now done by several respected national firms at a cost similar to real estate appraisals.

3. Financing

Financing is always a concern, as hardly any business buyer has the financial capacity to write a check for the purchase price of a business.  If they did, they would most likely be living off of investment income rather than buying a business.

These are five possible sources for business acquisition loans:

BANKS – Although most people seeking a loan to buy a business will think first of a traditional bank loan, I can tell you from years of business brokerage experience that banks generally do not make business acquisition loans.  There are exceptions but they’re rare.

SBA – The SBA, through its approved lenders, provides business acquisition loans.  The SBA does not make direct loans, but rather guarantees a portion of the loan that is made by the approved lender.   It’s known as the SBA 7(a) program.  Wells Fargo Bank is currently the top volume SBA lender nationally.

The SBA route for a business acquisition loan is sometimes frustrating because of the time and detail that is involved.  However, keep in mind that the SBA will approve loans that others have turned down and will usually approve them with a smaller down payment.  In most cases, it’s worth the wait.

FAMILY – Many times the older generation in a family will loan the down payment or the entire amount needed to a promising member of the family’s younger generation.  If your family is willing to loan you the money, one word of advice is in order.  Have a very clear understanding as to how the debt is to be handled and put it in writing in the form of a legal note.

THE SELLER – In a significant percentage of the business transfers that I handle as a business broker, the owner of the business finances a portion of the purchase price for the buyer.  Some sellers cannot offer owner financing for a variety of reasons, but when they can, it conveniently solves the problem of financing.

The fact that the business owner is willing to finance the sale of his company provides more than a convenient finance plan.  More importantly, it provides a strong validation of the owner’s belief that the business will support the owner and earn enough cash to pay back the loan.  You can’t get any better recommendation on the business than this.

The normal down payment for owner financing ranges generally from around 30% to 50% of the purchase price of the business.  Interest rates are generally market driven but there is more flexibility here than in other forms of financing.

401(K) FUNDS AND IRA ACCOUNTS – The use of these funds to buy a business, without tax penalty, is a fairly recent development.  Several national CPA and attorney groups have developed a plan, approved by the IRS, which allows you to use your funds for business acquisition.  There are legal and accounting fees involved, but they are a small fraction of the tax penalty that would be assessed for cashing in these accounts early.

 The above ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­five sources of financing are not exclusive to each other.  I recently handled a transaction in which three of the five sources were used to buy the business.

It’s called creativity!

If I can assist you with any considerations involved in the transfer of ownership, please don’t hesitate to email or call me.

For further reading, here are additional related articles:

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

 
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Small Business Weekly News: Best and Worst States for Business

States ranked best and worst for business.

States ranked best and worst for business.

Small Business Weekly searches the internet to bring you every Monday the business news and ideas of particular interest to the business community.

This week’s issue includes:

  • President Biden’s tax plan
  • The ranking of the best and worst states for business
  • Who qualifies for a second Payroll Protection Program loan
  • 7 Daily Productivity Hacks to Help You Work Smarter in 2021.

To read the newsletter, please go https://conta.cc/36dR17b.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.  He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

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SBA Extends Deadline for COVID-19 Disaster Loan Applications

SBA COVID-19 Disaster Loans explained by William Bruce

SBA COVID-19 disaster loan application deadline extended.

Just recently, the SBA announced that the deadline to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic Economic Injury Disaster Loan has been extended to December 31, 2021.

To date, SBA has approved $197 billion in low-interest loans, which provide U.S. small businesses, non-profits, and agricultural businesses working capital funds. Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending the availability of funds.

Loans are offered at affordable terms, including a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin.

The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is separate from the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loans and requires a different application.

For details and an application, please click here.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

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The New Stimulus Package Explained

New stimulus act explained

Here’s a quick summary of the new stimulus package.

The new stimulus bill signed by the president Sunday night contains these items according to Forbes.  To read the full Forbes article, please click here.

Stimulus Checks: The new stimulus package will provide a one-time stimulus check of $600 for each eligible individual based on the same income limitations for the first stimulus check, which is a 2019 income less than $75,000 for each individual and $150,000 for each married or joint filer. Eligible dependents 16 and younger can qualify for $600 stimulus checks, while married and joint filers can get $1,200.

Unemployment Insurance: The new stimulus package includes $300 a week for enhanced unemployment insurance.

Rental Assistance: The stimulus package includes $25 billion of rental assistance to protect vulnerable Americans who are at risk of losing their home. There is also a one-month extension of the federal eviction moratorium.

Additional Benefits: The stimulus package also includes funding for the Paycheck Protection Program ($284 billion), education ($82 billion), child care ($10 billion), clean energy and fossil fuels, and vaccine distribution, among other benefits.

What’s Missing: Student loan relief was dropped from the stimulus package. There is also no Covid-19 liability protection for businesses or any state or local aid.

Our research here in the William Bruce office confirms that the act reauthorizes loans under the expired Payroll Protection Plan to certain businesses that have already received a PPP loan.

The act offers a second loan to businesses that meet certain eligibility requirements. Specifically, companies applying for a second loan must show that they employ no more than 300 employees.  Additionally, businesses are eligible only if they have used or will use the full amount of their initial loan and have lost at least 25 percent of their revenue in any quarter of 2020.

Business owners interested in applying for a first or second PPP loan should promptly contact their professional advisors.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

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Should You Sell Your Business Now or Wait?

Sell business now or wait

Should you sell your business now or wait.

We’re living in strange times with the pandemic, a record number of hurricanes and a change of residents in the White House.  So if you’re considering exiting your business, it’s natural to wonder if you should sell your business now or wait a while.

Among the many issues you must weigh, probably the most important consideration in making the decision to sell your business now or wait for a while longer is the question of valuation.  In short, business owners are wondering what effect the pandemic has had on the valuation of small to medium size businesses?

The answer is, “It depends.”

It depends almost entirely on the type of business, with bars and restaurants suffering the most. I’m advising my restaurant and bar clients who are considering selling their businesses to wait.  Valuations are down critically in the category because earnings have been so dramatically reduced.  If these owners can survive until the country is vaccinated — big “if” —  then they will realize more from their years of hard work.

Other categories of businesses are more fortunate.  In most other categories, valuation specialists, myself included, are not penalizing the business for a dip in earnings if experienced during the pandemic, realizing that it’s not a trend.  And any dip is likely to be dramatically less than in the restaurant/bar sector and easier for business buyers to overlook.

In addition, there are at least three other issues for a business owner to consider when trying to decide whether to sell the business now or wait.  These are (1) market availability, (2) the accessibility of buyer financing and (3) the time frame from the decision to sell until you get to the closing table.

By market availability, I mean what businesses are on the market and available for a business buyer to consider.  A lot of businesses on the market favor the buyer; fewer options favor the seller. Right now, there is a scarcity nationally of businesses posted to the business-for-sale websites compared to normal times.  I’m in touch weekly with business brokers around the country and almost to a person, they tell me they have fewer offerings in their portfolios now than they have had in a long time.  Some say the fewest ever.

Regarding buyer financing, banks with the federal government’s encouragement are now aggressively making loans, especially under the SBA 7(a) business acquisition loan program.  I have bankers calling me frequently soliciting referrals of business buyers seeking financing.

The last consideration I’ll discuss is the time it takes to sell a business.  It’s not an overnight process.  Selling a business versus selling a home is more complicated and it takes longer.  Four to eight months is a reasonable time frame.

Because of this, a business seller should start planning ahead.  There is more seasonality to business sales than most folks would realize, with January through April being the busiest months. It’s not dramatically busier, but in my 34 years of business brokerage, I’ve noticed it.

No doubt, you as the business owner, have more issues to consider than just those discussed above. After all, you have successfully operated your business over many years and you are the ultimate decision maker.

You’ve seen, haven’t you, photos of President Truman seated in the Oval Office behind the desk plaque, “The Buck Stops Here.”  It also applies to you, the business owner.

If you think I might be of assistance with your business planning, please don’t hesitate to call or email.  All communications are strictly confidential.  If you would like to have it, I can email you a digital copy of my 40-page booklet, “How to Sell Your Business While Avoiding Costly Mistakes.”

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.  He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

 

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Considering Buying a Business? Here’s How to Analyze It.

How to analyze a business to purchaseBy William Bruce

Are you considering buying a business but are not quite sure how to analyze it?  Here’s how to do it.

First, The Need for Confidentiality

Confidentiality is critical to the successful transfer of a business.  If word gets out that a business is for sale, several things start happening and none of them are beneficial to a prospective buyer.  First, key employees start looking for other jobs, fearing that a new owner may not retain them.  In the uncertainty, customers start looking around and begin shopping elsewhere.  Suppliers get nervous.

This is why a seller or business broker will ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement.  In this agreement, you confirm that you will not disclose the fact that the business is for sale — except to your professional advisors.  And yes, your spouse is considered a professional advisor.  After all, he/she consults with you often on a professional basis, right?  Just caution your advisors on the need for extreme confidentiality.

If you show that you take the need for confidentiality seriously, you will be regarded as the professional that you are.

The Anonymous Customer

If you’re working with a business broker, he will probably have furnished you with a summary profile on the businesses.  The profile will contain the salient points of the business including gross revenue and earnings.  The first step in analyzing the business might be an anonymous visit posing as a customer.  We call this a reconnaissance run.

As you visit, first, note the location.  Is it appropriately located for the type of business?  As you’re driving into the parking lot, what does the business look like from the street?  What about signage and street identification?  Then as you walk to the entrance, what kind of an impression do you receive?

Once you’re inside, take a close look around.  If it’s a retail establishment, are the shelves full?  Is it clean and neat  Are there customers there?  Are the employees helpful?

What is the general feeling you received from your visit?  If you decide this is a business you want to follow up on, make a list of questions for the owner.  Make this list while your visit is fresh on your mind.  Include anything and everything you’re curious about.

It’s great if the image is good, but don’t despair if it’s not.  As one of my astute clients reminded me recently as I was lamenting the poor street image of one of my offerings, “It’s an opportunity for a new owner to make a difference.”

A word of caution:  While on this visit, don’t talk to anyone in the business about the fact that the company is for sale.  Chances are the employees don’t know it’s for sale.  And even the owner would not be free to talk about it at this point within earshot of customers and employees.  Chat pleasantly about the weather … or college football!  (‘Tis the season, you know.)

The Meeting With the Owner

The next step in this logical sequence will be a meeting with the owner.  If you’re working with a business broker, he will set up the meeting at a time convenient for both parties.  He will attend the meeting with you and facilitate the exchange of information.

Be sure to bring your list of questions.  Ask anything you want to.  However, it’s usually best, at this point, not to discuss the asking price of the business or the possibility of owner financing.  That comes later.  But ask anything else that comes to mind.  Nobody knows the business better than the owner.  If you’re meeting at the business, ask for a tour of the facility.

It’s important that this meeting remains informal and cordial.  Remember, you are both checking each other out.  If the owner is going to finance a portion of the selling price, he’s looking at you as much as you’re looking at the business.  It’s a two-way street.

At the end of the meeting, you don’t have to express any commitment.  Simply say something like:  “Well this has been very informative.  Thanks for your time.  Let me consider this new information.”  It might also be a good idea to convey to the owner that the information will be kept in the strictest of confidence.  He’ll appreciate your sensitivity to that issue.

Computing Discretionary Earnings

The next step is to determine the owner’s discretionary earnings.  After all is said and done, what you will be buying is the ability of the business to produce profits.

So first let’s define discretionary earnings.  Some professionals refer to it as adjusted cash flow.  Discretionary earnings are defined as that amount of cash left over after only the necessary operating expenses have been paid that is available for (1) owner’s remuneration, (2) return on investment, and (3) debt service, if any.

Another way to express it is that discretionary earnings are the total owner’s benefit from owning the business regardless of how the owner takes the money out of the business.

Discretionary earnings are not the same as net profit shown on the business tax return.  It’s not the same because of the bookkeeping practices of most business owners.  Simply stated, most business owners make strenuous efforts to reduce any taxable income by running some expenses through the business that are not really necessary to the operation of the business.  This practice reduces tax liability but it also oftentimes masks the true earnings record of a business.

In considering a business, your challenge is to determine its true discretionary earnings.  CPAs sometimes refer to this exercise as the recasting or normalizing of the financial statements.  If you are using a business broker, he has probably already prepared a recasting worksheet on the business.

Here’s an article explaining more about the computation of discretionary earnings.

To Pursue or Not to Pursue

After computing the discretionary earnings of the business, the next step is to determine if the cash flow is enough for you.

To do this, you need a fairly close approximation of what your debt service, if any, will be on the amount borrowed to buy the business.  After all, it’s the amount left over after debt service that will be available for you and your family to live on.

Your broker will have amortization tables available for debt calculation.  Business loans without real estate generally run seven to 10 years.  With real estate, the term of the loan can be up to 20 years.

The arithmetic from this point is fairly simple.  Just take the yearly bottom line discretionary earnings of the business and subtract the annual debt service.  If the remaining balance is enough to support you and your family, then this business might be one that you would want to pursue.

It probably should be mentioned that the above calculations do not consider any increases in revenue and earnings resulting from new ownership.  Historically, a business will experience a revenue increase of between ten and fifteen percent due solely to a change in ownership.  Nor does this calculation account for any new products and services or other changes that a new owner may plan to introduce.

Now it’s decision time.  If the business is of interest to you, and if it returns the amount of cash flow you need (or can be made to do so), and if you can envision yourself successfully running the business, then you may be ready to move on to the next logical step.

If you’re ready to pursue this business, my next blog post will outline an important step: The Contingent Offer.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.  He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

Follow William on LinkedIn.

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Here’s How to Value an HVAC Business

how to value an HVAC business

Here’s how to quickly estimate the value of an HVAC business.

The valuation of privately held businesses is sometimes confusing.  But fortunately for heating, ventilation and air conditioning – HVAC – businesses, we have valuation formulas that will yield a pretty close approximation of value.  In determining how to value an HVAC business, let’s take a look at two valuation formulas.

Two frequently used formulas that professionals use to value an HVAC business involve (1) a percentage of gross annual revenue, and (2) a multiple of discretionary earnings.

First, let’s consider the formula that uses a percentage of gross annual revenue.  One widely respected reference source says that HVAC companies are worth somewhere in the range of 35 to 50 percent of annual revenue plus inventory stocked for resale at cost.  Where within this range a particular business falls depends on several factors discussed below.

The other formula maintains that HVAC businesses can be valued by using a multiple of yearly discretionary earnings.  What are discretionary earnings?  The number is sometimes also sometimes referred to as adjusted cash flow.

One easy way to define discretionary earnings is to explain that it is the total financial benefit to the business owner from his/her ownership of the business, regardless of how he/she takes that benefit out of the business.  For a more detailed description of the term, take a look at this article.

So with the term defined, let’s again quote a respected industry source which asserts that HVAV businesses are valued at 2 to 3.5 times discretionary earnings plus inventory for resale at cost.  This valuation based on a multiple of discretionary earnings is generally considered more accurate than the formula that uses a percentage of revenue.  After all, earnings are more important to value than revenue.

The formulas do not include the value of any real estate.  Any realty included in the transaction should be added to the final formula result, and as stated above, the cost of any inventory which is on hand for resale should also be added.

So where in the two ranges quoted above would a particular business fall?  Listed below are some of the factors to consider:

  • Location in a growing area with a strong local economy adds value.
  • A clean set of books and tax returns bring value to the company.
  • A trend of growing revenue and profits definitely creates value.
  • A good staff including a general manager and well-trained technicians adds value.
  • Conversely, an overreliance on the owner for management lower value.
  • A large number of annual maintenance contracts for recurring revenue adds value.
  • A significant portion of income derived from new construction lowers value.
  • Higher revenue and profits command higher multiples of discretionary earnings for valuation purposes.

However, an HVAC company, like any business, is worth what a willing seller and a willing buyer, with no undue pressure on either party, are able to agree upon as the market value of the company.

If my firm can assist you with your valuation or transfer of ownership processes, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  My office is 251-990-5934 and my email is Will@WilliamBruce.org.

Here are three additional articles that might be of assistance:

Using Rules-of-Thumb to Quickly Estimate Business Value

The Top 3 Critical Issues in Buying or Selling a Business

The Critical Question of Price When Selling a Business

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.  He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

 

 

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What Are the Differences Between EBITDA and Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE)?

What are differences between EBIDTA and Seller's Discretionary Earnings

There are important differences in EBITDA and Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE).

The differences between EBITDA and Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE) cause confusion.  Sometimes the two terms are incorrectly viewed as interchangeable, but there are important differences.

First, some definitions.  Both are business performance benchmarks that are widely used in valuing a business for sale or acquisition.  However, there are critical differences in EBITDA and Seller’s Discretionary Earnings, and if you use the wrong one in valuing the company under consideration, you could calculate a grossly inaccurate appraisal of the business.

EBITDA

EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.  In other words, to compute EBITDA you take the net profit of the business as shown on the company’s tax return or P&L and add back the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.  Only these four items are allowed to be added back.  The resulting number of this calculation is EBITDA.  It’s by far the easiest benchmark to compute because the adjustments to net profit or loss are limited and well defined.

Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE)

In computing Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE), you again start with the net profit or loss of the business and add the items listed above for EBITDA.  Then for SDE, you also add back some other items.  Those additional items are the business owner’s salary and perks, any one-time expenses not likely to recur (ie: a major remodeling expense), and any expenses that will disappear for the new business owner.

As just one example, let me tell you about the sale of a restaurant that I handled as a business broker several years ago.  The profit and loss statement from the business was actually showing a small loss.

However, the owner’s wife drove a Lincoln Navigator which was listed on the books of the business as a company vehicle. The company also paid for all her gas and maintenance on the Navigator although she had no role in the operation of the restaurant.  Same for the daughter’s Honda which she drove back and forth to college. The daughter was also on the payroll as an employee of the restaurant which furnished her with spending money at college, although she never actually worked at the restaurant.

The family’s week-long ski vacation to Colorado was charged to the business because the owner attended a business meeting for a few hours while in Aspen. You see where I’m heading here, don’t you? By the time all these items plus any non-cash expenses (eg: depreciation) were accounted for, the restaurant was actually producing a nice yearly discretionary income for the family.

DISCLAIMER: Hey, I’m not with the IRS and don’t render an opinion on these sorts of things!

Simply put, the calculation of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings is an attempt to determine the business owner’s total financial benefit derived from owning the business.

With the differences between EBITDA and Seller’s Discretionary Earnings, which one to use?

So with the differences, which one of these benchmarks do you use when buying or selling a business?  More than anything else, it depends on the size of the business.

For large businesses, usually with a professional non-family CEO running the company, EBITDA will yield a more applicable result.  These businesses are usually the ones being sought by private equity groups or considered by publically traded firms as a merger candidate.

But for smaller businesses, usually run by an owner-operator and with annual revenues below, say, $5 million, the calculation of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings will be much more meaningful.

More Information

For additional information on related topics, these articles may be helpful:

Please don’t hesitate to call or email if my office can be of assistance.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

 
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Here’s the New $600 Billion Federal Reserve Lending Program for Businesses

William Bruce talks about new $60 billion loan program for pandemic victims.

The Fed has budgeted $600 billion for the new loan program.

For some reason, this new loan program for businesses has not received much attention.  But $600 billion has been allocated for the project, so if you’ve been hit hard by the pandemic, it might be a lifesaver.

The name of this new program, The Main Street New Loan Facility, is somewhat of a misnomer.  The maximum allowed annual revenue that business can have and still qualify for a loan is $5 billion.  I’m not aware of any “Main Street” business that has that kind of revenue!

But regardless, it’s a new program by the Federal Reserve to assist businesses that are trying to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.

As the Fed explains it, the Main Street New Loan Facility (“Facility”) is intended to facilitate lending to small and medium-sized Businesses by lenders.  An eligible lender is a U.S. federally insured depository institution (ie: banks, savings associations and credit unions).  The Fed will buy 95 percent of the loan from the lending institution.

An eligible borrower is a business that

  • was established prior to March 13, 2020,
  • is not an ineligible business (ie: banks; life insurance companies but not         independent agents, finance companies; factoring companies; investment companies, bail bond companies; and any other businesses whose stock in trade is money),
  • meets at least one of the following two conditions: (1) has 15,000 employees or fewer, or (2) had 2019 annual revenues of $5 billion or less,
  • is created or organized in the United States with significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States, and
  • does not also participate in the MSPLF, the MSELF, or the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility; and has not received specific support pursuant to the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020.  (PPP loans are OK.).

Loan terms:

  • 5 year maturity
  • principal payments deferred for two years and interest payments deferred for one year (unpaid interest will be capitalized)
  • adjustable rate of LIBOR (1 or 3 month) + 300 basis points
  • principal amortization of 15% at the end of the third year, 15% at the end of the fourth year, and a balloon payment of 70% at maturity at the end of the fifth year;
  • loan size can be from $250,000 to $35 million
  • is not, at the time of origination or at any time during the term of the loan, contractually subordinated in terms of priority to any of the borrower’s other loans
  • prepayment permitted without penalty.

Other requirements and conditions:

  • Borrower must commit to not repaying principal or interest on other loans until the Facility loan is paid in full unless the debt or interest payment is mandatory and due.
  • Borrower must commit that it will restrict compensation, capital distributions to owners per the issued guidelines.
  • Each borrower that participates in the Facility should make commercially reasonable efforts to maintain its payroll and retain its employees during the loan term.
  • A lender will pay the Fed a transaction fee of 100 basis points of the loan amount at the time of origination. The lender may require the borrower to pay this fee.
  • A borrower will pay a lender an origination fee of up to 100 basis points of the amount of the loan at the time of origination. The Fed will pay a lender 25 basis points of the principal amount of its participation in the loan per annum for loan servicing.

There are many other details.  Speak to your banker to see if you qualify.  You’ll be dealing with the government so a word of warning: expect some confusion and delay.

Please don’t hesitate to call or email if my office can be of assistance.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

 

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Giving a Shoutout and Thanks to the Invaluable Healthcare Workers During this Covid Mess!

William Bruce salutes and thanks healthcare workers.

Posted in Valuing, Buying or Selling a Business | Tagged | 2 Comments

Considering Buying a Business? Here Are the 6 Most Frequently Asked Questions.

If you’re considering buying a business of your own, it’s natural that you would have lots of questions about the process.

William Bruce, President
American Business Brokers Association

I’ve been a business broker for over three decades.  During these enjoyable times, I’ve had the opportunity of assisting many individuals in achieving their goal of owning a business of their own.

In this work, I’ve found that many buyers of businesses have the same questions.  So I thought I’d list those questions that I’m most frequently asked along with my responses.

Why would a good business be for sale?

Answer by William Bruce: I have found that some buyers think that if a business is for sale, there must be something wrong with it.  This is sometimes true, but most businesses are for sale for legitimate reasons including retirement, health problems, family issues and burnout.  Burnout after many years of operating a business is real.  I experienced it years ago after owning a heavy equipment dealership for almost 20 years.

How will I know if the asking price of the business is reasonable?

Answer by William Bruce:  This is a very good question.  There are fairly simple guidelines for closely estimating the value of many types of small to medium size businesses.  These rules-of-thumb vary by category of business, but usually seek to estimate value (1) by applying a percentage to gross annual revenue of the business or (2) applying a multiple to the discretionary earnings of the business.

For example, we know that a full-service restaurant will most likely be valued at around 30 percent of gross annual revenue, assuming that the bottom line earnings support that appraisal number.

We also know that the majority of businesses will appraise for somewhere in the range of 2 to 3.5 times discretionary earnings.  As just two examples, a convenience store will appraise at approximately 2.25 times discretionary earnings plus inventory at cost, and a lawn maintenance service valuation will average about 2.75 times discretionary earnings.

Written and fully documented business valuations are also available for a reasonable cost from several highly respected national business valuation firms.

For further reading on this issue, please see this article.

What are discretionary earnings?  Is it the same as cash flow?

Answer by William Bruce:  The terms “discretionary earnings” and “cash flow” are used interchangeably by business buyers, sellers and brokers to refer to the total owner’s benefit from owning the business, regardless of how the owner takes the money out of the business (salary, draws, perks, etc.).  It’s the cash left over after only the necessary operating expenses of the business are paid.

CPAs sometimes refer to the process of computing discretionary earnings as “normalizing” the profit and loss statement.  The computation removes the camouflage from the bookkeeping practices of most business owners.

For an article on how to compute discretionary earnings, please see this article.

 How do I finance the acquisition of a business?

Answer by William Bruce:  There are five possible sources of financing for buying a business including (1) banks, (2) SBA-guaranteed loans, (3) the seller of the business, (4) family and (5) in recent years a new program that allows you to use your 401(k) or IRA funds to buy a business without an early withdrawal penalty.

For a discussion of the pros and cons of each of these options, please see this article.

How much down payment do I need?

Answer by William Bruce:  It depends on several things but between 25 and 35 percent should suffice in most situations.  You should also have in reserve for working capital about two months operating expenses of the business to get you comfortably over the initial timeframe.

What is due diligence?

Answer by William Bruce:  Due diligence is a fancy term.  In practical use, it can be summarized as that phase in the purchase of a business when you have access to all the books and records of the business (1) to verify the accuracy of the information that you’ve previously been furnished and (2) to make sure that there are no serious, undisclosed problems with the business.  It’s customarily done after a buyer and seller have agreed upon price and terms, with the completion of the transaction fully contingent upon a satisfactory due diligence investigation.

For a more thorough explanation, please see this article.

For a comprehensive discussion of these and other issues involved in buying a business, you can order William Bruce’s complimentary 62-page booklet “How to Buy a Business in a Safe & Organized Way.”  The booklet walks you through step-by-step the process of buying a business to make sure you get what you pay for.  To order, please click here.

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William Bruce is an Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI) and Senior Valuation Analyst (SVA) assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership.  He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.  His practice includes consulting services nationally on issues of business valuation and transfer.   He may be reached at (251) 990-5934 or by email at Will@WilliamBruce.org. 

Follow William on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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