Thinking about buying a business? Here's a way to figure what is possible

If you want to own your own small business there are really only two ways to get into business. You can start a business from scratch, often called a start-up. Or you can buy an existing business from a business owner who is ready to sell their business.

There is much written about starting a business. The biggest problem with a start-up is in the time it takes a start-up to become cash flow positive and unfortunately many never become cash flow positive and they fold.

Buying an existing business is often a good choice. If you do it right you can be cash flow positive immediately and financing for purchasing a business is often very favorable. In a previous post I wrote about “Why would someone sell be their perfectly good business?” and it talks about why business owners choose to sell good businesses.

If you want to buy an existing, profitable, business you need to answer a couple of questions about your situation before you begin your search.

First, how much money do you have available for a down payment before borrowing any money from any banks, credit cards, etc. It will be very, very difficult to buy a good business without a down payment.

Second, what’s the minimum amount of money you need to make from the business to live on once you buy the business.

If those two numbers are reasonably close to each other you have a decent shot at buying a business.

Here is a “typical” deal:

Business earnings (Seller’s Discretionary Earnings)  $75,000
Selling Price of business   $200,000
Down payment    $50,000
Earnings/Salary you need  $50,000
Get an SBA Loan for $150,000
Annual Payments for your SBA Loan $20,500 (10 years @ 6.5%)

Business earnings $75,000 – $20,500 (debt payments) = $54,500 to you the new owner.

Also, when thinking about your down payment there is a mechanism to use you 401(k) funds to buy a business without incurring early withdrawal penalties nor tax obligations.

If you want to be in business for yourself it’s always a good idea to get informed and look at all your options.