Financing the Business Purchase

Where can buyers turn for help with what is likely to be the largest single investment of their lives? For most small to mid-sized business acquisitions, here are the best ways to go:

Personal Equity

Typically, anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of cash needed to buy a business comes from the buyer and his or her family. Buyers who invest their own capital (usually an amount between $50,000 and $150,000) are positively influencing other investors or lenders to participate in financing.

Seller Financing

This is one of the simplest and best ways to finance the acquisition, with sellers financing 50 to 60 percent–or more–of the selling price, with an interest rate below current bank rates, and with a far longer amortization. Many sellers actively prefer to do the financing themselves, thereby increasing the chances for a successful sale and the best possible price.

Venture Capital

Venture capitalists are becoming increasingly interested in established, existing entities, although this type of financing is usually supplied only to larger businesses or startups with top management and a good upside potential. They will likely want majority control, will want to cash out in three to five years, and will expect to make at least 30 percent annual rate of return on their investment.

Small Business Administration

Similar to the terms of typical seller financing, SBA loans have long amortization periods. The buyer must provide strong proof of stability–and, if necessary, personal collateral, but SBA loans are becoming more popular and more “user friendly.”

Lending Institutions

Those seeking bank loans will have more success if they have a large net worth, liquid assets, or a reliable source of income. Although the terms are often attractive, the rate of rejection by banks for business acquisition loans can go higher than 80 percent.

Source of Small Business Financing (figures are approximate)

Commercial bank loans 37%
Earnings of business  27%
Credit cards  25%
Private loans  21%
Vendor credit  15%
Personal bank loans 13%
Leasing  10%
SBA-guaranteed loans 3%
Private stock  0.5%
Other 5%