Advertiser Disclosure

Small Business

Business Acquisition Loans: What They Are and Where to Find Them

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Getty Images

Buying an existing business can be an effective strategy to grow your operation. But if you don’t have enough cash to make the purchase, a business acquisition loan could help you finance the deal.

There were more than 17,500 mergers and acquisitions in North America in 2018, according to the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances.

Continue reading to find out where you could find a loan to buy a business — and how to boost your approval chances.

Types of business acquisition loans

There are several ways to finance a business acquisition. In some cases, the seller may loan you the money and accept payments taken from your business profits. Or, you could assume the business’ existing debt by purchasing both its assets and liabilities.

You could also pursue a leveraged buyout, which involves using business assets to fund the purchase. However, a leveraged buyout typically requires additional financing, such as a business acquisition loan.

Business purchase loans come in a variety of forms. Here are a few for which you could apply.

Term loans

A long-term business loan can finance a wide range of purchases — generally between $25,000 and $200,000. Long-term loans have fixed monthly payments and fixed interest rates, which allow you to plan for regular payments. You could be required to provide a 10% to 30% down payment. These loans typically must be paid back in three to 10 years and often have lower interest rates than financing products with shorter repayment terms, such as short-term business loans that must be paid back between three and 18 months.

Lenders may require substantial paperwork from applicants, which could slow down how long it takes to get funding. Some businesses could have trouble qualifying since borrowers usually need two years in business, a strong credit profile and collateral to be eligible for long-term loans.

SBA loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration guarantees a portion of loans made to small businesses through partner lending institutions. SBA loans range from $500 to $5.5 million for qualifying small businesses. You may be required to make a 10% to 20% down payment. The 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary financing option and may be best suited to fund business acquisitions. The standard 7(a) loan is available for up to $5 million. The SBA guarantees 85% of loans that are $150,000 or less, and up to 75% of loans exceeding $150,000.

Repayment terms for 7(a) loans could be up to 25 years for real estate purchases and up to 10 years for equipment purchases or working capital. Interest rates can be fixed or variable and would be based on the prime market rate, plus a markup rate. The SBA caps the percentage that lenders can add to the prime rate to limit how much interest borrowers must pay.

Equipment financing

Equipment loans are designed to finance the purchase of business assets, which could be useful if you’re buying a business based on the value of its equipment. The equipment would act as collateral on the loan, which could lower the interest rate and make payments manageable. Interest rates could range between 6% and 12% depending on factors such as your terms and down payment. Borrowers typically have to make a 10% to 20% down payment and need good credit to qualify for financing.

Repayment terms for equipment financing generally range from six months to 10 years. In some cases, the terms of an equipment loan could exceed the useful life of the asset.

Where to find a loan to buy a business

Business acquisition loans are available from traditional banks and alternative online lenders. To give you a starting point, we’ve rounded up a few lenders that specialize in business acquisition financing or SBA lending.

Live Oak Bank

Live Oak Bank is an SBA lender offering acquisition loans to veterinarians, pharmacists and investment advisors. Live Oak Bank is headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., but it lends to businesses nationwide.

Live Oak Bank issues SBA 7(a) loans up to $5,000,000 to buyers of companies with $250,000 to $1.25 million in EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Those loans have 120 month repayment terms, and interest rates are subject to the SBA cap. If you’re acquiring a business with more than $1 million in EBITDA, you could be eligible for a companion acquisition loan up to $2.5 million from Live Oak Bank. Companion loans have repayment terms between five and seven years. The interest rates, according to Live Oak Bank, may be higher than rates for SBA-backed loans.

Ameris Bank

Ameris Bank, with locations across the South, offers financing for business acquisitions. Businesses of all sizes can apply for funding. Repayment plans can be set up on an annual, semiannual or monthly schedule. Rates and terms are competitive, according to Ameris Bank, and would depend on your profile as a borrower.

It is also an SBA preferred lender and issues SBA loans to finance business acquisitions. Applicants would be required to provide at least 10% equity to qualify for an SBA loan. Repayment terms could be as long as 300 months, and rates would be subject to the SBA cap.

Smartbiz

Smartbiz is an online marketplace specifically for preferred SBA lenders. Smartbiz matches lenders to applicants who may have trouble qualifying for loans from their local bank. Loans are available for up to $5,000,000 with interest rates between 6.25% and 8.50% and terms between 120 and 300 months.

Borrowers must have at least two years in business, good credit, no recent bankruptcies and sufficient cash flow to repay debt. Smartbiz can process an application and disburse funding in as few as seven days.

Banner Bank

Banner Bank, which has locations in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, offers merger and acquisition financing to business owners looking to grow through acquisition or to buy out a business partner. Loans come with fixed or variable interest rates and terms up to 84 months. Applicants would need to set up a meeting with a relationship manager at their local bank branch to find out if they qualify.

How to get a business acquisition loan

When applying for an acquisition loan, the lender would likely dig into details about your business, as well as the business you plan to buy.

Be prepared to share the following information about your company with lenders:

  • Personal credit history: Having a strong personal credit profile and a FICO Score exceeding 680 would make you appear more attractive as a borrower and could help you get a lower interest rate.
  • Professional experience: Your success as a business owner would impact whether a lender would issue you a loan to acquire and manage another business. If you do not own a business, relevant industry or career experience could be valuable.
  • Business plan: A lender would review yours to make sure you have a strategy to grow your existing business and the acquired business.
  • Financial documents: To illustrate your record of operating profitably, you would need to submit financial statements such as your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. A lender would want to see if your business will generate enough cash flow to repay an acquisition loan.
  • Industry: Lenders view some industries as riskier than others. Professional service providers tend to be safer borrowers, while volatile businesses such as restaurants, retailers or vice-related companies could be considered risky.

The industrial sector has seen the highest percentage of business transactions since 1985. Behind industrials is the technology and financial sectors. On the other hand, mergers and acquisitions are less frequent in the telecommunications, retail and real estate industries.

Regarding the business you plan to acquire, a lender would likely evaluate:

  • Business credit profile: The business should have a strong credit profile that shows a history of making on-time payments to vendors and suppliers.
  • Financial statements: The company’s balance sheet, profit and loss statements, tax returns, current debt liabilities and cash flow analysis would give the lender a look at the viability of the business.
  • Projections: Revenue and sales projections for the next few years would also help a lender understand the potential value of the acquisition.
  • Valuation: The valuation of the business would show how much the deal is worth, which would affect your loan amount.

Before giving you the green light, a lender would want to make sure you’re buying an established business that would generate enough revenue to allow you to repay your debt. With this information, you could make sure the loan application process goes smoothly and increase your chances of approval.

The bottom line

Business acquisition loans can fill the gap when you want to purchase a company but don’t have enough funds to do so. Term loans, equipment loans and SBA loans could be used to cover a business acquisition. You could apply for financing from a traditional bank or online business lender to obtain the necessary money to finance the deal.

Be sure to shop around before accepting an offer. Wait for a loan that not only provides the amount of funding you need but comes with repayment terms and interest rates that work best with your small business.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]

Advertiser Disclosure

Small Business

Business Loans for the Holiday Season

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Business Loans for Holiday Season
Getty Images

Holiday shoppers and wintry weather could have a positive or negative effect on businesses, depending on the industry. Retailers, for example, could experience a rush of customer traffic during the holidays, while business could slow down for weather-affected companies, like oil well drillers who can’t work when the ground freezes.

Because the winter months can put a strain on small businesses of all kinds, it is a prime time of year to secure financing. Seasonal business loans could make it easier to keep up with the demands of the holiday season, or help you cover regular expenses if business slows down.

Before you find your business in a tight spot, keep reading to find out how you can obtain a seasonal business loan or other types of holiday financing.

Types of seasonal business loans

There are several kinds of business financing options that could be useful during the holidays, and these products could be available from traditional banks, online alternative business lenders or financing companies. Here are a few types of funding for which you could apply to meet your seasonal business needs.

Business line of credit

A business line of credit gives you access to a set amount of money that you could draw from as needed. You would only pay interest on what you actually borrow, and the full amount would become available again as soon as you repay your debt.

Lines of credit can be both secured and unsecured, depending on whether you provide business assets as collateral. A secured line of credit would require collateral, which means the lender could seize your assets if you don’t repay your debt. You could receive a lower interest rate and higher credit limit, though, because the collateral would reduce the risk for the lender. An unsecured line of credit wouldn’t require collateral, which would not reduce risk for the lender and could result in a higher interest rate and lower credit limit.

Best for: General business needs

A line of credit is a common seasonal financing option for business owners. Oftentimes, business owners need a quick infusion of capital during the holiday season that they’ll soon be able to pay back. A line of credit isn’t suited for long-term financing, so it would be a better option for business owners who expect to quickly generate capital during their busy season to repay debt.

“It all depends on the seasonal needs. There’s peaks and valleys and that’s where those lines of credit help them,” said Larry Rush, a mentor for SCORE, which partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide free small business mentorship.

Our pick: Kabbage

Kabbage, an online business lender, offers lines of credit up to $250,000 and same-day approval. You could qualify in minutes and would have 6, 12 or 18 months to pay off each withdrawal from your credit line. Kabbage charges a monthly fee ranging from 1.5% to 10%, depending on your business performance. Each month, you’d owe an equal portion of your balance plus the fee.

To qualify, you need:

  • One year in business
  • $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 in monthly revenue

Accounts receivable financing

To bring in extra funding, businesses can turn their accounts receivable and unpaid invoices into cash. A business owner would work with a financing or factoring company to get an advance on unpaid invoices and accounts receivable, which would act as collateral. The financing company would buy a percentage of those unpaid accounts receivable in exchange for cash, then collect a fee once your customers make payments.

Factoring companies also provide merchant cash advances, a similar product. With a merchant cash advance, you would sell a portion of your receivables (typically credit card sales) in exchange for funding. The company would then take a fixed percentage of your sales until the debt is paid back.

Best for: Businesses with a high volume of credit card sales or invoices

Businesses that bring in significant income through invoices or credit card sales could benefit from this type of financing on a seasonal basis. Accounts receivable financing and merchant cash advances are typically expensive, but they would provide fast access to funding, according to Rush.

“It’s not something that’s widely used,” he said. “But many times, when the business is in a jam, I’ve seen companies with large receivables on a seasonal basis go to a factoring company to get cash.”

Our pick: BlueVine

BlueVine is an online lender that provides invoice factoring up to $5,000,000. BlueVine can advance up to 85% to 90% of your unpaid invoices. Weekly interest rates start at 0.25% for well-qualified borrowers, as of Oct 7, 2019. When customers pay invoices, you would receive the remaining amount minus BlueVine’s fee.

To be eligible, you must have:

Inventory financing

Inventory financing is designed for the purchase of goods and products, and it comes in various forms. A short-term business loan or business line of credit could be considered inventory financing if the inventory itself acts as collateral. Lenders may only finance a percentage of the cost of inventory — usually up to 80% — and the funding amount would be based on the value of the items.

A line of credit would allow you to borrow money to make purchases as needed, while a short-term loan would provide a sum of funding to purchase inventory in bulk. Short-term loans typically require daily or weekly repayment terms, and could come with higher interest rates than lines of credit. A line of credit would be best for ongoing seasonal or year-round needs, while a loan may be better for making a large one-time purchase.

Best for: Retailers or wholesalers with large amounts of inventory

Businesses with seasonal inventory needs could rely on short-term loans or lines of credit to stock up on products ahead of the holiday season. But be careful, Rush advised, not to purchase more inventory than you can sell during your busy season, especially near the end of the year. Carrying inventory into the new year could affect your annual business taxes.

“Make sure you blow out dead inventory whenever you can to properly budget your business,” Rush said.

Our pick: OnDeck

OnDeck, another online lender, offers inventory loans for small business owners. OnDeck’s short-term loans range from $5,000 to $500,000, and you could receive same-day funding if approved. Annual interest rates start at 9.99%. OnDeck also offers lines of credit between $6,000 and $100,000, with annual interest rates starting at 13.99%.

Eligible business owners must meet the following requirements:

  • One year in business
  • $100,000 in annual revenue
  • 600 personal credit score

When to apply for holiday financing

Business owners should secure seasonal financing before the holidays arrive — Rush even suggested as early as June, in some cases. But you could also apply for funding in the fall months to ensure you have money to spend ahead of the holidays.

You may want to consider the speed at which you could receive financing as well, he said. For instance, if you notice a certain item is selling quickly, you might need fast funding to buy additional inventory to avoid running out.

The lender and type of financing you choose would affect the time to funding. An online alternative business lender could provide lines of credit and short-term loans more quickly than a traditional bank. An online lender could also approve your application for financing in a few hours, rather than a few weeks.

Merchant cash advances from online lenders or financing companies are among the fastest financing options for business owners. Eligibility requirements are typically lenient, and the underwriting process to review applications is less involved than it would be for a standard business loan. However, fast time to funding comes at a cost — merchant cash advances are often expensive and risky because of the quick repayment schedule.

The application process for accounts receivable financing is also quick. A financing or factoring company would usually require you to fill out an online application, and you could receive an offer in a few days. However, again, you could face somewhat high fees.

Is seasonal financing right for your business?

The winter months could deter customers from some seasonal small businesses. Others may see a boost from holiday shoppers. If you know you’ll see a seasonal shift, effective budgeting throughout the year could help you get through the holidays without financing. But if you unexpectedly anticipate struggling to keep up with demand or paying bills despite a dip in customers, seasonal business loans could provide reprieve.

Depending on your business needs, you could secure a business line of credit, inventory financing or accounts receivable financing from a lender or financing company. A line of credit would let you access funds as you need money, while accounts receivable financing would allow you to leverage your unpaid invoice for funding. Inventory financing could provide a lump sum of capital to purchase products.

Be sure not to buy more inventory than you can sell before the end of the year, though. Otherwise, you could end up owing taxes on any unsold inventory that you carry into the new year.

Additionally, when applying for financing, take note of the expected time to funding. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to secure the right financing for your business before the holiday season begins.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]

Advertiser Disclosure

Small Business

Due Diligence Process: What Businesses Can Expect

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Getty Images

Before selling a business, you’ll first need to go through the due diligence process. The amount of research required may seem onerous, but it’s designed to protect both the seller and buyer.

Potential buyers would request access to your business financials, contracts, inventory, equipment, intellectual property and outstanding legal matters, which you would need to provide within a reasonable amount of time. The business acquisition would be contingent on the buyer’s investigation.

Continue reading to learn how to prepare for the scrutiny and inspection of the business due diligence process.

Rodger and Ann Lenhardt, owners of Norm’s Farms in Hartsburg, Mo., sold a majority stake of their family-owned elderberry operation in 2017. The business sells a range of elderberry products made from berries grown on the farm, which has been in the Lenhardt family for decades. Selling a large portion of the family business to another company, Missouri-based Innovative Natural Solutions, was emotionally challenging, but it was a necessary step for growth.

“Norm’s Farm needed a big infusion of capital to scale up,” Ann Lenhardt said. “And these guys had the money.”

The due diligence portion of the sale process could be intimidating and overwhelming for first-timers, Rodger Lenhardt said. Typically, you’d need legal or financial guidance to gather the necessary documents and information for buyers to analyze.

“The buyer is going to want to dig into your underwear drawer,” he said. “If your house is a mess and your financials aren’t in order, you’re not going to get a buyer.”

What is due diligence?

The purpose of due diligence is to ensure all information exchanged between a buyer and a seller is accurate and fully disclosed, said Paren Knadjian, who heads the capital markets and mergers and acquisitions group at KROST. Through due diligence, a potential buyer would hire an attorney or business broker thoroughly investigate all aspects of your business.

“It’s essentially understanding how the company operates on a day to day basis,” said Knadjian, who is based in California.

Due diligence typically occurs after the buyer provides a letter of intent, a non-binding two- or three-page document outlining the terms of the transaction, including how much would be paid for the business. The letter of intent would state that the proposed terms of the deal would be subject to due diligence.

The complexity of both the deal and your business records would determine the length of the due diligence process, although the average time frame is 30 to 90 days, Knadjian said. After due diligence is complete the buyer would then draw up legal documents to finalize the sale.

Do sellers investigate buyers?

Sellers should do their own due diligence on the prospective buyer as well, Knadjian said. The process would be less formal, but it would provide insight into the company that’s buying your business.

The Lenhardts hired advisors to aid in researching the buyer of Norm’s Farms, Ann said. They wanted to make sure the business would thrive under new ownership.

“When you put your heart, blood and tears into a business, you’re attached to it,” she said. “That’s why due diligence on our partners was so important to us.”

Make sure you understand how the buyer plans to pay for your business, and whether they’ll be borrowing money to finance the purchase, Knadjian said. If you plan to stay involved with the business after the sale, either as a shareholder or an employee, you should understand how the debt from the sale would impact operations.

Due diligence preparation for small business owners

Before putting your house on the market, you would likely spruce up the property to make it more attractive to buyers, Knadjian said. Consider doing the same for your small business.

“Knowing what’s ahead of you in terms of due diligence and correcting any errors will speed up the due diligence and reduce the risk of something going wrong,” he said.

Expect a buyer to dissect several areas of your business during the due diligence process. You may be able to request that they sign a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement to protect sensitive information.

Next, we’ll discuss what you can expect to share with a potential buyer.

Legal documentation

A buyer would look into all current and future legal obligations, including outstanding judgments or tax liens, licensing, permits and zoning compliance. Contracts with suppliers and employees would also be up for review.

You may have to turn over any invoices from lawyers from recent years to show what issues had been addressed. If your business is a corporation, a buyer may also ask for shareholder or board meeting minutes to review past company decisions.

Financial statements

Financial information such as revenue, accounts receivable, tax returns, existing debt and stock ownership would be analyzed. Be prepared to submit documents such as:

  • Annual financial statements
  • Cash flow analysis
  • Cash restrictions
  • Expense reports, categorized as non-operational
  • Public filings, if applicable
  • Audited financial statements, including any disclosures or management letters suggesting recommendations

A buyer would check to make sure your business followed Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, when generating financial statements. Companies that adhere to GAAP standards have created their statements using the same set of accounting rules. Meeting GAAP standards would make it easier for a buyer to review your financials, avoiding a potential hitch in the due diligence process.

Business assets

A buyer may conduct an inspection of any fixed assets to determine their value. You’d need to share records of maintenance and replacements and whether any assets are no longer in use.

If any assets like equipment, vehicles or property are being leased, rented or loaned, that financial information would need to be included in the sale.

Operational information

A buyer would analyze the responsibilities of individual departments and how they contribute to overall operations.

Activities related to sales would be under a microscope. A buyer would look into how your business makes sales and how the sales department is organized. The productivity and skill level of the sales team may also be measured.

Your marketing activities would indicate how well you stack up against competing businesses. A buyer could perform a comparative analysis to examine marketing efforts such as:

  • Product packaging and quality
  • Advertising
  • Distribution
  • Pricing
  • Telemarketing
  • Internet marketing
  • Branding

A buyer may dive into your manufacturing practices as well to determine how your business builds or produces goods.

You can find a sample due diligence checklist here.

After due diligence: What to expect

After the buyer completes enough research to feel comfortable making an offer, they would then hire a legal firm to draft documents describing the terms of the acquisition. There may be several documents for you to sign, depending on the nature of the sale. Those could include:

  • Asset purchase agreement: An arrangement where the buyer purchases all business assets, including tangible property like real estate and intangible property such as patents and trademarks.
  • Stock purchase agreement: The buyer purchases the majority or more of a business’s stock and assumes existing debts and obligations.
  • Bill of sale: Document confirming the transfer of ownership on a specific date and at a specific place for a certain amount of money.
  • Employment agreement: Contracts detailing the treatment of employees after the sale, including the terms and obligations of continuing or terminating employment.

“Typically, after [due diligence], the legal documents are negotiated, finalized and signed,” Knadjian said. “When the money is transferred, that’s considered a close and the transaction is done.”

There could be back-and-forth negotiation before the final papers are signed, Ann Lenhardt of Norm’s Farms said. Financial details may be the last item to discuss, which was the case when selling Norm’s Farms, she said.

Business owners often believe the purpose of due diligence is to renegotiate the selling price, but that’s rarely the intent of buyers, who have already included price in the letter of intent, Knadjian said. However, information found during due diligence could affect how much the buyer is willing to pay for the business.

“If you’re well organized, there’s no need to be worried about that,” he said. “It’s considered bad practice to go into due diligence with the intent to change the terms of the deal as the buyer.”

What happens if the deal falls through?

After weeks or months of due diligence, there’s no guarantee a sale will occur. Although the majority of deals are successful, the due diligence process could end in a broken transaction, Knadjian said. A common reason is a lack of organization within the seller’s business.

“The cleaner the books, the better documentation they have, the much more likely that the transaction will go through,” he said.

A broken deal likely wouldn’t have any financial ramifications for either party, other than the loss of time and money spent on advisors and lawyers, Knadjian said. Buyers sometimes make a “good faith deposit” to show their intent to purchase the business, and the seller may not return that money if the sale falls through, he said.

A failed transaction wouldn’t impede your chances of selling the business in the future, unless the buyer found a problem within the operation. As long as you fix any issues uncovered during due diligence, you could attempt a sale again in the future, Knadjian said.

“Obviously, you will have to fix that problem before you go back on the market,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.”

Don’t fear the due diligence process

It may seem daunting to present the inner workings of your company, including financial statements and legal documents, to a potential buyer, but it may be an unavoidable step when selling your business.

“Nobody’s willing to make an offer until the books are open,” Ann Lenhardt said.

Due diligence typically begins after a potential buyer outlines terms of the deal in a letter of intent. Before then, be careful not to disclose too much detail about your business, Knadjian said. If the interested buyer is a competitor, they may be looking for valuable information to use at their own company.

In most cases, a buyer wouldn’t set out to deceive you, Knadjian said. A buyer would be looking to check the legitimacy of your claims about the business. You should conduct due diligence on the buyer to make similar confirmations.

“I’m assuming you’re operating as an actual company,” Knadjian said. “The point of due diligence is to test those assumptions.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]