M&A Specialist | Advisor | Author | Consultant

How to Buy a Business When a Bank Loan is Hard to Get

If you have been following any of my recent blogs you would have read that I have touting from the top of my lungs that now is the time to be buying a business. And in case you haven’t been following my blogs I will restate why I think now is a great time to be buying a business.

Why? Well one of the reasons is that business valuations have come down in price. Businesses that were selling for 3 to 4 times their net profit are now selling for 2 to 3 times their net profit. Or if they were selling for 5 to 6 times their net profit they are now selling for 4 to 5 times their net profit. This is a substantial reduction of price from a few years ago.

Now this statement is true in generally all of the business sectors such as the retail and service categories. Of course there are going to be some categories that really hot at a certain time that are selling for a premium, but generally this true now across the board in most of the businesses on the market.

The second reason I think now is a great time to be buying a business is that the cost of money is about as cheap as it is ever going to get. You can get a commercial loan to purchase a business for 5% or sometimes lower depending on your credit and the situation and the lender you are working with.

So let’s say that I have convinced you that now is the time to buy a business because the valuations are down and you can get a good deal on the purchase of a business and the cost of money is cheap.

But gee Terry didn’t you know that banks aren’t lending and it is hard to get a loan. If you said or thought that you would be absolutely correct.

Banks do have money to lend, but they have changed the rules on lending or should I say that the Federal Government has changed the rules for lending for them and therefore it has become more difficult to get a loan in today’s economic environment. Yes, all of this is true, but there is still a way to get that loan for the business you are wanting to buy. Yes, the days of getting a 100% loans are long gone unless of course you are working with private investors, but we are talking about a financial institutions today so I will stay focused on such accordingly.

Here is how you get your loan for the business you want to buy today.

Most lenders are sitting on top a pile of cash and they are in the business of renting money. Yes, that is how they make a good profit in the banking and lending business of money. They receive money from people who deposit their money into their bank and pay them a pittance for doing so and then they rent that money out to people like me and you for a profit. It is a very simple formula. Once I understood that banks were nothing more than renters of money it became a very simple formula to understand.

But since the Fed’s have changed the rules and told the banks they must be more prudent in their renting of money the banks have become more conservative in the way they rent out their money, but they still are in the business of renting money.

In the old days before the Fed’s came to town and changed the rules on renting money an individual could buy a business with 20% down and the bank loaning the remaining 80%. Sometimes the bank would keep the note themselves and earn the high interest rate they were charging for the renting of the money or sometimes they would sell it off to the SBA and only retain a portion of the loan thereby allowing them to keep money in their bank and repeat the process again and again. Either way it was a good deal for the individual that needed a loan to buy themselves a business.

Now though the rules have changed and if you have spoken to a lender recently you would then understand that they will are still willing to loan you money for that business you wanted to buy, BUT it better have a solid cash flow and they are not going to loan 80% of the purchase price. No, more than likely they are going to be willing to loan you maybe 50% to 60% of the purchase price of the business.

But wait you say. I don’t have much money! Heck, if I was buying a business for $500,000.00 then instead of having to come up with $100,000.00 (20%) now I have to come up with $200,000.00 to $250,000.00. That is crazy I don’t have that kind of money. Doesn’t the bank understand that I have good credit, this is a good business, there are no jobs to be had in the market place and if I had that kind of money I probably wouldn’t be in the situation that I am now?

Well to begin the bank doesn’t really care about any of that. All they are concerned about is keeping their job. So it is better to tell you no and keep their job than to make a loan to you that could get them in trouble and they lose their job and then they would be just like you (except they wouldn’t have as much money saved as you have) so this is what we call a lender making a career decision. It is easier not to make the loan and keep their job rather than to take a chance on making the wrong loan and possibly losing their job. (I actually had a bank President tell me that one time). But I am straying from the point.

The point is since there are new rules and the banks want more money down and you don’t have the money how do you get the loan? The answer is right in front of us. We are going to get the additional capital we need from the seller of the business. He should be aware of how difficult it is to get a loan in today’s marketplace and if he isn’t he must have been living without a TV or access to the internet to see what has been going on with our banking system. But just in case the Seller of the business is not cognizant of what is happening in today’s marketplace in regard to the lending environment then I would ask the Seller of the business to go visit his local and long established banker to ask him for a loan to refinance his business. Yes, have the Seller go down to his old banker buddy who he has had a long relationship with and have him ask him how much money he would loan him against HIS business. Now remember this is a business that is a good business and has been up and running for quite a while. This is what we would call a reality check, because the Seller of the business will find out real quick what is going on in the world of lending for businesses. Hey, if I am wrong about this then great everyone gets the loan they wanting and you can totally disregard this article. But I don’t think I am wrong on this one.

But back to getting that loan. Here again it is really simple math. First go talk to some lenders and find out what is their criteria for the loaning money for a business. Some will want 30% or 40% or maybe 50% as a down payment towards the purchase of a business. Don’t argue with them just get the details. Then work your formula backwards and when you have found the business you are interested in explain to the Seller that you are a qualified Buyer and that you have the needed funds available to purchase the business with the normal amount of funds needed being 20% and that in today’s marketplace that lenders are requiring 35% as a down payment and you will need the Seller to carry 15% of the purchase for a limited time. By this I mean have the 15% amortized over the same time period as the lender is requesting, but agree to refinance the 15% in a shorter term like 3 or 5 years from the date of the purchase of the business.

Some Sellers will not like this idea and will not go along with it, but a Seller who wants or needs to sell their business understands that it is much better to get the bulk of their money now and have the business sold than to just sit and wait and hope that things are going to change later and still not sell the business.

Good luck and give this idea a try if you are really serious about buying yourself a business and enjoy the journey. It is all great.


Straightforward Advice for Cashing in on the Full Value of Your business

Download a Free Chapter

Enter your name and email
to receive a free chapter from Terry Monroe’s book,
Selling with Certainty.

Selling with Certainty by Terry H. Monroe - Straightforward Advice for Cashing in on the Full Value of Your Business


Latest News

Latest Videos


The Secret to Getting Top Dollar for Your Business

If you are planning to sell or are considering selling your business in the next twelve to twenty-four months, you need to start planning now. But where do you even start? Selling a business is not easy. With so many things to consider, some confusion is understandable.

Download a Free Chapter

Enter your name and email
to receive a free chapter from Terry Monroe’s book,
Hidden Wealth.

Hidden Wealth - The Secret for getting Top Dollar for Your Business