Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Small Business Law Could Make Buying or Selling a Business Easier

The financial markets have made it difficult for small businesses to get loans – but this may be changing, as the President just signed a new law aimed at making it easier. This new law could benefit those looking to buy an existing business or start a new business or franchise. The law could also benefit current business owners who have been thinking about selling their companies.

The law improves existing loan programs and includes multiple small business tax cuts. Some elements of the new bill include:

- Fee Waivers on SBA loans are now in place, but only while the money lasts. Buyers considering an SBA loan should act quickly to take advantage of fee waivers, as they will only last as long as the limited funding.

- Lending limits have been increased significantly on SBA loans. Transactions that previously may have been too large for SBA funding may now qualify. This is especially good news for sellers and buyers of companies who were previously too large to qualify for SBA financing.

- When small businesses buy new equipment, they may immediately write off the first $500,000 of that investment.

- For eligible small businesses, some long-term investments in the company will be subject to zero capital gains taxes.

- Entrepreneurs with a fresh idea will be able to deduct the first $10,000 of their start-up costs.

- Those who are self-employed will be able to deduct 100% of the cost of health insurance for themselves and their family.

SBA lenders are working to incorporate the new law into their lending practices. Sunbelt Business Brokers encourages those considering SBA financing to 1) make sure they are working with SBA preferred lenders, and 2) get a recommendation from a local business broker on banks that are friendly to small business loans. Just because a bank is “SBA preferred” does not mean they are SBA friendly. A business broker can make sure you are talking to a lender that won’t waste your time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Invest in Youself, Buy a Business

It’s part of the American Dream: owning your own business. While many of us dream or even casually explore the prospect of running our own business, few people take the leap. So, what takes a buyer from “I wish. . .” to “I will!”?

Buying a business is unlike any other venture you havve undertaken. You are not investing in a volatile stock market, gambling on others. You are not applying to yet another job where you work for someone else- investing in your coworkers, the economy, and your employer. Your chief investment will mean more than dollars and cents. This time, you’re investing in yourself.

Have a Plan-and Stick to It
Many first-time business owners become overwhelmed with the prospect of buying a business, simply due to the time involved. Buyers are already balancing their time between family, friends, and community involvement- all on top of 40+ hours a week at work. But a lack of time should never be the reason not to pursue your dream of owning a business. Think of how much time you spend watching TV or surfing the internet. If you committed just 1 hour of each day to your business search, you would have almost a full work week every month to dedicate solely to making your dream a reality. Once you have decided that you’ll dedicate a specific amount of time each day to your new venture, stick with it. When you invest in yourself, you are your own boss and employee. A good boss would not retain an employee who might show up for work every day. Take your search seriously, and set goals: “I will find 3 businesses that fit my criteria by March.” “I will meet with a broker in person within the month.” “I will meet with my accountant to discuss my capital resources next week.” “I will own a business by the end of December!”

Be Realistic about your Needs and Resources
Whether you start your business from scratch or choose to use a broker to buy an existing business or franchise, you will need to seriously consider how much capital you are willing to invest. Take a close look at your needs. You will need to look for businesses with cash flows which can accommodate your lifestyle. What can you realistically afford? I suggest calling in the professionals. Without guidance, you may find yourself doing more dreaming than acting. Look at your net worth, financing options, and available resources. How much are you willing to invest in yourself? Speak with your accountant, your business broker, and your banker early in your search.

Bring in the Professionals
Yes, as a business brokerage firm, Sunbelt has a vested interest in the matter, but using the expertise of professionals can help you navigate the minefield of buying a business. Contact your attorney, your accountant, and yes-your local business broker-and let them know you’re looking to buy a business within the year. They can advise you on the best way to go about your search, and they can also help you to avoid the costly mistake of buying the wrong business for your needs. And we do suggest enlisting the help of a business broker. They can keep you informed when new listings become available, when listing prices or terms change, and can even be hired as advocates on your behalf as you search for the right business.

Get in the right mindset
Let’s be honest. Few people become the CEO of their own company by casually surfing the net on a Sunday night. When you invest in yourself, you need to become passionate about the experience. Repeat it to yourself like a mantra: “I will become a business owner this year!” You would not invest in someone else unless you were sure they were 100% committed. Buying your own business is no exception. It will be a long and involved process. But having the right mindset can be the difference between casual exploration, and holding the keys to your own business.