We occasionally receive calls from people who are looking to buy a business. The advice when seeking an asset based loan is always to target a company with at least some assets. Service companies such as accounting or legal practices for example, typically do not have hard assets that they use on a daily basis. This disqualifies the possibility of an asset based loan assisting in the purchase of the company.
What assets do lenders like to use as collateral for their loan? Essentially, any asset found on a company balance sheet can be used as collateral for a business purchase. These assets include accounts receivable, inventory, equipment and real estate. Ideally, a company has more than one of these available to be used as collateral for the lender.
When dealing with a new business acquisition loan request, the first course of action is to explore the SBA loan program and see if you can qualify for a government insured loan. The advantage of this loan is the low down payment of 10 percent required from the buyer. The disadvantage is that the SBA loan program is difficult to qualify for. The underwriting guidelines review the target company tax returns to ensure that the company can take on the additional debt used in purchasing the business. Tax return analysis is the most conservative form of cash flow analysis because everyone looks to minimize profits on their tax returns to avoid paying high taxes.
Secondly, the SBA is also required to take outside collateral when making a loan. This usually means a 2nd position on the buyer(s) residence. Not all applicants own a home, or if they do, have equity to offer in the home. The psychological effects of placing your home as collateral can also be a bit intimidating.
If the applicant can not qualify for an SBA loan, there are private money solutions available. Asset based lenders outside of the SBA program are a bit more flexible. They look at the collateral of the business and see what cash can be taken out of the existing assets. For example, if a company owns equipment and real estate, can those assets be leveraged and applied toward the purchase price? Another popular way of purchasing a business is through factoring the accounts receivable. Invoice factoring companies are asset based lenders focused strictly on the accounts receivable of the business to be acquired. By factoring the accounts receivable, they can make additional cash available for the purchase. For example, if a company has $1,000,000 in open accounts receivable a cash availability of up to $850,000 can be made available for the purchase.
The last piece is what is referred to as a “seller carry back.” This is simply an amount of the purchase price that the seller agrees to accept over the course of a payment plan agreed to between buyer and seller. Asset based lenders view this as equity, but also prefer that the buyer has cash to bring in to the purchase. Cash investment from the buyer is important because it keeps them invested in making the acquisition a success. If the buyer has no capital at stake personally, it is easier to walk away from a failed acquisition. Buyers prefer 100% financing and lenders want some “skin in the game” in order to keep the borrower invested.
Asset based loans can make your business acquisition goals a reality. However, buyers need to be realistic in their expectations. If a buyer has zero capital to put down towards the acquisition or the company targeted for purchase has zero assets, the likelihood of success is very slim.
Advice: if you are looking to acquire a business using mostly outside capital, make sure the business has hard assets and you have a portion to apply to the purchase price. What was not mentioned previously is buyer experience. You should also have some experience in the industry your acquisition is in. For example, purchasing a repair shop and have adequate prior experience as a mechanic.
If you would like to talk about acquiring a business, give us a call 714-719-8966.
To you success!
Huntington Coast Capital, Inc.