Peter  Siegel

Article Summary:

Tips on how to get an SBA loan to help you purchase a business for sale.

How To Get An SBA Loan

Getting financing to buy a business can be one of the most important aspects of buying a business. Not too many buyers have all cash for a purchase and not many business owners are willing to take back a sizeable note. Buyers need to be prepared well in advance with the information below to increase the odds of getting a loan to buy a business.

Lenders look at many different things in both the business buyer (borrower) and at the business that is being purchased. Below are some key factors that make a difference whether you will receive SBA financing to buy a business:

1. Buyers need between 15% - 30% for a down payment depending if there is real estate with the business or if just the business is being sold by itself. The down payment can come from many different sources: savings, equity built up in your home (home equity line of credit or 2nd on your home), a gift (usually from only family members), or retirement plan (401K, Pension, IRA etc.). You CAN NOT borrow the money or utilize a credit card for your down payment!

2. Buyers need to have good to excellent credit. Any bankruptcies or many late payments will usually nullify the chances of a borrower no matter how good the other criteria looks. Get any “dings” in your credit history removed or fixed well before the buying process. Early in the lending process, the lender will be running a credit check to see if you qualify.

3. Lenders like a borrower who has experience in the business they are buying or in a related industry, or with specific job skills relating to the business they are buying. Lenders also like management experience or buyers who have previously owned a business and know what it takes to grow and keep a business on track. You will need to provide a resume of your work experience. Have one ready that focuses on your industry strengths and management experience.

4. Buyers should write up a mini business plan on the business they are thinking of buying. Lenders usually require this to make sure you know about the business and industry you are buying into and what you are going to do with the business once you buy it. These plans can be a short outline (3-5 pages) where the business has been, what is happening with it now, and what you plan to do with the business once you buy it.

5. Positive cash flow (or adjusted net income) must cover the debt service of the loan and provide you with an adequate income to live off of, otherwise you won’t get the loan. Lenders look closely at the tax returns of the business being sold – so if the seller is playing any games (not showing income, excess deductions, etc. on his business tax returns) chances are you won’t get a loan. Ask for the business tax returns early in the process of looking at a business and see if you can “add back” sufficient net income, depreciation, interest, and owners salary (adjusted net income) to pay back the loan.

6. Does the buyer have equity in any real estate that can be attached to the loan? Although not imperative with some lenders, this can strengthen the deal if the other parts of your loan application are weak such as the down payment, work experience or a lower credit score.

7. Does the business that’s being sold have management in place or key employees who are going to stay? Try to get commitments from existing key personnel and management to stay for a period – this shows the lender continuity and less risk after you take over.

8. Make sure there is adequate training after the sale of the business. Lenders look for a training period to be anywhere from 2 months to 12 months from the seller (depending on the type of business you are buying and your past work experience and how it relates to the business you are purchasing). Make sure you negotiate this point carefully in the purchase agreement.

9. Will the seller take back a note? If the owner is willing to take back a note (even a small one for 10%-20%) this shows the lender that the owner is confident in the deal and is willing to take a chance on the buyer!

10. Lenders will also want to know if you have any other outside sources of income i.e. other business income, income from a spouse’s employment, rental properties, investment income etc. You will also need to provide 3 years of current personal tax returns.

11. The loan process takes anywhere from 30 to 180+ days, it really depends on you. The quicker you get info, forms, and questions answered to the lender the faster the process takes.  When the lender asks for certain data/info move on it quickly!

Peter Siegel, MBA is a nationally known consultant and author - with over 25 years experience on the topic of selling, buying, and niche financing (the purchase of), small to mid-sized businesses. His latest book, "Businesses For Sale ? How To Buy Or Sell A Small Business" is available online and in bookstores. In 1994 he founded and later ? two of the leading business for sale, business opportunity, & franchise for sale related websites, and he presently writes a syndicated small business blog at and produces a Podcast which focuses on issues, educational events, and information related to buying and selling small to mid-sized businesses.

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