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Hot Business List ~ April 2013

May 21, 2013

Below you will find the current “hot” business list courtesy of data from Businesses For Sale. We asked Businesses For Sale for a monthly ranking of business types based on the number of “hits” on their site. This ranking is not based on the actual sale of businesses.

Top Ten Businesses for April 2013:

  1. E-Commerce Businesses
  2. Health and Fitness Clubs
  3. Websites
  4. Convenience Stores
  5. Restaurants
  6. Auto Repair, Service and Parts
  7. Bars
  8. Delicatessens
  9. Marketing Businesses
  10. Fast Food Franchises

Top Ten M&A Businesses for April 2013:

  1. Tennis Clubs
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Distribution Businesses
  4. Construction Businesses
  5. Home and Garden Businesses
  6. IT
  7. Recruitment Businesses
  8. IT Manufacturing
  9. Specialist Subcontractors
  10. Fabrication Businesses

 

Questions to Ask the Buyer of a Business in Orange County

Photo Credit: Instant Vantage via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Instant Vantage via Compfight cc

I am currently working with two buyers with two totally different motivations for buying a business.  One buyer already owns a successful business and has the resources to purchase another in Orange County as an investment with either minimal involvement in day-to-day or hands off.  The other buyer is from another state and wants to buy an easy to run business so they can move to Orange County to be near their family.  Point being there are multiple motivations for buying a business and the buyers need to be vetted to determine motivation to take the plunge.

A serious buyer should have the answers to the following questions:

  • Why are you considering the purchase of a business at this time?
  • What is your time frame to find a suitable business?
  • Are you open-minded about different opportunities, or are you looking for a specific business?
  • Have you set aside an amount of capital that you are willing to invest?
  • Do you really want to be in business for yourself?
  • Are you currently employed or unemployed?
  • Are you the decision maker, or are there others involved?

The real key to being a serious buyer, however, is whether the individual can make that “leap of faith” so necessary to the purchase of a business. No matter how much due diligence a buyer performs, no matter how many advisors there are to advise the buyer, at some point, the buyer has to make a leap of faith to purchase the business. There are no “sure things” and there are no guarantees. If a buyer is not comfortable being in business, he or she should not even contemplate buying one.

Selling Your Businesses in Orange County in the Summer

Summer is a difficult and interesting time for selling businesses.  As most buyers go on vacation with their families, dealflow usually shrinks and almost all communication stops until the kids go back to school. The slowdown creates a little breathing room for everyone to reevaluate their positions to see if everything from Asking Price to updated financials are all proper and in place.   After the kids go back to school, the activity will get back to normal with the fall session projected to be fairly good.

What Businesses are Selling?

Hot Business List ~ June 2013

July 11, 2013

Below you will find the current “hot” business list courtesy of data from Businesses For Sale. We have information from  Businesses For Sale for a monthly ranking of business types based on the number of “hits” on their site. This ranking is not based on the actual sale of businesses.  If you have a business for sale in Orange County or are considering selling your business for sale in Orange County,  this information might be helpful.

Top Ten Businesses for June 2013:

  1. Convenience Stores
  2. Fast Food – Non Franchises
  3. Restaurants
  4. Bars
  5. Websites
  6. Gas/Petrol Service Stations
  7. Auto Repair, Service & Parts
  8. Delicatessens
  9. Café Bars
  10. Printing & Typesetting Services

Top Ten M&A Businesses for June 2013:

  1. Sandwich Shops & Delivery Businesses
  2. Liquor Stores/Off Licences/Wine Merchants Businesses
  3. Auto Repair, Service & Parts Businesses
  4. Bakers & Confectioners
  5. Distribution Businesses
  6. Oil & Petrochemical Related Businesses
  7. E-Commerce Businesses
  8. Supermarkets
  9. Pubs
  10. Web Design/Development Businesses

First Half Results are In

In an effort to keep you up to date on the state of the market for buying and selling a business in Orange County or the rest of the county , I am sharing information from a couple of reports which give us an interesting insight to the market.   Bizbuysell, a prominent website for listing businesses for sale, reports a significant spike in small business sales for the second straight quarter.  Forbes reports Private Companies forecast strong revenue growth.  Axial (which tracks larger enterprise value transactions)  forecasts for the balance 2013  are very optimistic.  In my opinion, this tells us the climate for selling or buying a business has improved and is moving in the right direction.

Buying or Selling a Business: The External View

Photo Credit: Victor1558 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Victor1558 via Compfight cc

There is the oft-told story about Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds. Before he approached the McDonald brothers at their California hamburger restaurant, he spent quite a few days sitting in his car watching the business. Only when he was convinced that the business and the concept worked, did he make an offer that the brothers could not refuse. The rest, as they say, is history.

The point, however, for both buyer and seller, is that it is important for both to sit across the proverbial street and watch the business. Buyers will get a lot of important information. For example, the buyer will learn about the customer base. How many customers does the business serve? How often? When are customers served? What is the make-up of the customer base? What are the busy days and times?

The owner, as well, can sometimes gain new insights on his or her business by taking a look at the business from the perspective of a potential seller, by taking an “across the street look.”

Both owners and potential buyers can learn about the customer service, etc., by having a family member or close friend patronize the business.

Interestingly, these methods are now being used by business owners, franchisors and others. When used by these people, they are called mystery shoppers. They are increasingly being used by franchisors to check their franchisees on customer service and other operations of the business. Potential sellers might also want to have this service performed prior to putting their business up for sale.

 

Burnout: One of the Top Reasons for Selling a Business

Photo Credit: Lori Hersberger via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lori Hersberger via Compfight cc

Burnout is one of the main reasons mentioned by owners selling his or her business. Potential buyers may have trouble accepting this as a valid reason for sale. However, burnout is a valid reason for selling one’s business.

A business owner can experience burnout even with a business that’s successful and growing. Many independent business owners feel they’ve worked hard, made their money, and now is a good time to cash out and move on, before burnout endangers the health of the business.

The following warning signs should remind a business owner that cashing out beats burning out:

You are overwhelmed on a daily basis.

When a business owner is a one-man show, even small tasks and minor decisions can seem bigger than Mount Everest. These owners have been shouldering the burden alone for too long, and the isolation has taken its toll.

You sense a failure of imagination.

Burnt-out owners are so close to their work that they lose perspective. Prioritizing becomes a major daily challenge, and problem solving sometimes goes no further than the application of business Band-Aids that cost money in the long run rather than increasing profits.

The fun is gone.

Although owning a business is hard work, it should also provide a good measure of enjoyment. When the work day begins with dread or boredom, the owner probably needs a change of scenery and a new challenge.

You are simply worn out.

Being “just too tired” is a complaint heard just as often from the owner of the successful business as from the business that’s struggling to survive. In fact, a business that is growing will create increased demands of time and energy.

No matter what the status of the operation, the sheer work of keeping a business going day after day, year after year, is enough to encourage a business owner to make a change. This kind of schedule is not for everyone; in fact, statistics show that it’s hardly for anyone on a long-term basis.

How Long Does It Take to Sell a Business?

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Photo Credit: gadl via Compfight cc

Recent studies indicate that it now takes, on average, about eight to ten months to sell a small business. This figure seems to increase yearly. Why does it take so long to sell a business?

Price and terms are the biggest reasons!  It is very important not to overprice the business at the beginning of the sales process. A business will also sell more quickly if there is a reasonable down payment with the seller carrying the balance.  Having all of the necessary information right from the beginning can also greatly reduce the time period.  Finally, being prepared for the information a buyer may want to review or having the answers available for the questions a buyer may want answered is another key.

Here is the basic information a prospective acquirer will want to review and a seller should have prepared to help facilitate a quicker sale:

Copies of the financials for the past three years.

A copy of the lease and any assignments of the lease from previous sales.

A list of the fixtures and equipment that will be included in the sale. Note: If something is not included in the sale, it is best to remove it from the premises prior to the sale or at least have a list that specifies which items are not included.

A copy of the franchise agreement, if applicable, or any agreements with suppliers or vendors.

Copies of any other documentation pertaining to the business.

Supporting documents for patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.

Sales brochures, press releases, advertisements, menus or other sales materials.

In addition, here are some key questions that buyers may likely ask.  A prepared seller should have ready answers and information to support those answers.

Is the seller willing to train a new owner at no charge?

Are there any zoning or local restrictions that would impact the business?

Is there any pending litigation?

Are any license issues involved?

Are there any federal or state requirements, or environmental OSHA issues that could affect the business?

What about the employee situation? Are there key employees?

Are there any copyrights, secret recipes, mailing lists, etc?

What about major suppliers or vendors?

A prepared seller is a willing seller, and having the answers to the above items can significantly reduce the time it takes to sell a business.

Using the services of a professional business broker can also greatly reduce the time period.  Business brokers are knowledgeable about the current market, they know how to market a business, and they can advise a seller on price and terms.  They can also recommend professional advisors if a seller doesn’t have them already.  Using advisors who are transaction experienced can also shorten the time it takes to close the sale.

When to Create an Exit Strategy

Photo Credit: DoodleDeMoon via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DoodleDeMoon via Compfight cc

There is the old saying that the time to develop an exit strategy is the day you open for business. Sounds good, but it’s not very realistic. Further, it also isn’t very optimistic. On the day you open for business, thoughts about how you get out of it aren’t pleasant, or helpful, thoughts. However, as you get the business to a place where you have a bit of extra time to plan, you will find that the things you need to do to improve your business are some of the very things you will need to work on to plan an exit strategy.

You can’t predict misfortune, but you can plan for it. One never knows when an accident or illness will force one to sell. When the drive to your business becomes filled with dread, maybe it’s time to consider selling. The following ideas will improve your business, even if you’re not currently considering selling. Dealing with these areas will also supply the information a buyer will most likely be looking at when the time does come to sell.

Buyers want cash flow.

This, at least on the surface, is the thing a potential buyer will want to look at.

Appearances are important.

You may think everything about the business looks fine, but the two letters on the neon sign that don’t work indicate to a possible buyer that the seller may have lost interest in the business, causing them to also wonder what else doesn’t work or has been neglected.

There is probably more value than you think.

Business owners often don’t look at things that do create real value such as: customer lists, secret recipes, specialized computer systems, programs, customer loyalty programs, etc.

Eliminate the surprises.

Make sure the lease is transferable and that your landlord is willing to cooperate.  Resolve that issue with town hall.  Resolve the problem with that angry customer. Minor problems and issues will often raise their ugly heads during sensitive times, spooking a possible buyer. So, the time to resolve them is before going to market.

Five Kinds of Buyers

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via Compfight cc

Buyers are generally categorized as belonging to one of the following groups although, in reality, most buyers fit into more than one.

The Individual Buyer

This is typically an individual with substantial financial resources, and with the type of background or experience necessary for leading a particular operation.

The individual buyer usually seeks a business that is financially healthy, indicating a sound return on the investment of both money and time.

The Strategic Buyer

This buyer is almost always a company with a specific goal in mind — entry into new markets, increasing market share, gaining new technology, or eliminating some element of competition.

The Synergistic Buyer

The synergistic category of buyer, like the strategic type, is usually a company. Synergy means that the joining of the two companies will produce more, or be worth more, than just the sum of their parts.

The Industry Buyer

Sometimes known as “the buyer of last resort,” this type is often a competitor or a highly similar operation. This buyer already knows the industry well, and therefore does not want to pay for the expertise and knowledge of the seller.

The Financial Buyer

Most in evidence of all the buyer types, financial buyers are influenced by a demonstrated return on investment, coupled with their ability to get financing on as large a portion of the purchase price as possible.

Almost all the purchasers of the smaller businesses fall into the individual buyer category. But most buyers, as mentioned above actually fit into more than just one category.

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