The business for sale market has always had one consistent trend regardless of the overall economy. When a solid business, with provable financials, that can be operated by a wide pool of buyers with a general business background comes up for sale, it doesn't last long.
Since there's always a shortage of good businesses for sale and the market is flooded with prospective business buyers, there's always a pent up demand. As such, you have to put yourself in a position to pounce on these opportunities. In some cases, a buyer may not have the luxury of getting access to all of the information and research they would normally want to review before considering an offer, yet they are concerned about losing the business.
What do you do in a case where you come across what initially appears to be a really good business and you don't want to risk losing it to another buyer while you continue your investigation?
The solution is twofold: First, you have to know how to quickly compile as much initial research and analysis as possible and second, you have to be prepared to make offers. Sometimes a Letter of Intent (LOI) rather than a full blown Offer to Purchase may be the best route to quickly tie up the business.
The key is to understand that you have to get comfortable making offers. Drafted correctly, you can rescind an offer if the business is not as represented or for whatever reason if you don't wish to pursue it before certain agreed upon dates in the offer are met. But again, you have to be certain your offer allows you to do so without penalty.
Of course, it's best when a buyer has ample time to compile their research before proceeding with an offer, but that's not always possible. Further, it's difficult for many buyers, and especially first-timers, to make an offer on a business. Nevertheless, making offers is a critical part of the business buying process and a step that you have to get comfortable with doing. If not, you'll be stuck on the sidelines while other buyers purchase the businesses that you were hoping to buy.
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