From the Wichita Eagle: Knowing What You Have is Key When Selling Your Business

The shortened version of this blog was published in the Wichita Eagle on Thursday, February 18, 2016 in the Business Perspectives

Knowing what you have is key when selling your business

Rolled newspaperAs a small business owner, you have worked long and hard to reach the point that you are ready to sell your business and move to the next big adventure.

But just exactly what are you selling? Is it a job, an investment opportunity, a retirement plan, a testimonial, a labor of love or a hobby? Knowing the answer to this can be key when the time comes.

Most small business owners work hard in their businesses.   In most cases, the underlying long-term motivation for owning and operating a business is simple, money. Without it nothing else is possible, our house payment, groceries, retirement plan, investments, slush funds, family forecasting, all hinge around having money. As individuals our wants, needs and desires are unique. They are also relative to our perspective of life.

The same can be said about the value of a business being sold. The value of a business is relative to the perspective of the market and the selling price that the market will allow.

Unfortunately, this does not always correlate to the opinions, wants and needs of the seller. is the largest marketing website for small businesses in the world. In 2015, the average business that sold on this site sold for $199,000. Locally the value was $140,000 but this is probably skewed since only 3 sales in Wichita were reported to the site.

At this price, most buyers are buying a job, the ability to make a living, a paycheck, control over their own destiny, a sense of self-worth, satisfying that entrepreneurial bug. The business may sell for a fair price and in some cases, a premium but just because the seller wants it or thinks it should happen, does not mean it will. Knowing what you have can be key in your long term financial planning.

If selling your business is your retirement plan, then it is even more essential that you know what you have years in advance.  Knowing what you have can also help you to know if or when the time is right to sell.

Every business should be built to sell from the day it is conceived. Since this rarely happens, a business owner should visit with a business transfer specialist at least 3 – 5 years in advance of the time they want to sell.

Learn their opinions on the value of the business and what can be done now, to make it more attractive to a potential buyer, later.

These business transfer specialists can be business brokers, consultants, attorneys, accountants, bankers or other trusted competent advisors. Wichita is blessed to have a nice population of professionals who can assist. Wichita is also cursed by those who profess themselves as experts when they really aren’t. They never received any initial training, much less on-going education. Most of them mean well, they just don’t know any better. Wichita can also be targeted firms who sell valuations and promises. They deliver some really impressive reports but few results. Many can make a nice sales pitch, teach a class, conduct a seminar or give a presentation but few can consistently deliver. You have worked long and hard to build your business. You need to spend time checking into the person who is going to help you get it ready to sell. No matter who you work with, you owe it to yourself, your family and your business to check at least two references.

In addition to know what the potential selling price could be it is important to know other factors that could affect the salability of your business. Is my business turnkey? Are my proprietary assets (tangible and intangible) protected and transferable? Is the business so reliant on the owner that a possible buyer will be scared off? Should I be concerned if I’m a C-Corp? What will be the tax consequences?

In sales, it is best to sell a known product, one that you know and understand. The same applies to your business. Knowing what you have and understanding the consequences of selling, can be key in allowing you to move forward in life.

Why would you want it any other way?

About the Author:

Steve Fischer, is a Certified Business Intermediary of the International Business Brokers Association and Office Owner of VR Business Brokers in Wichita. He can be reached at 316-250-5962 or





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fischer Earns Certification

Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional ProgramDSC_8039-1-300x199[1]

Steve Fischer of Fischer Business Consulting, was one of 21 business intermediaries, brokers, industry experts and advisors to complete the Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional Program at the Micheal J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia from February 22 – 26, 2016.

Designed for professionals working to advise, sell or acquire businesses valued from $2 million to $50+ million, the five-day course provided an extensive educational experience in the disciplines of Business Sales and Mergers & Acquisitions. The week included case studies and presentations by business owners, entrepreneurs, seasoned M&A experts, private equity groups, accountants, attorneys and educators, in areas, accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, valuation, private equity, exit planning, law, structure and awareness. Special presentations by entrepreneur, philanthropist and namesake of the college, Mr. Micheal Coles, and M&A authority, CPA, author and educator Mr. J. Larry Stevens highlighted the week.

“I am proud to have been able to complete the course at Kennesaw State. Having worked in the Mainstreet market for over 8 years, this course and the interactions from the week have provided valuable tools that will not only allow me to keep my skills sharp but will enhance my practice as it moves to the next level.“ said Steve.


About Executive Education Programs at Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University:

The Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in both business and accounting.  With over 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees the university serves over 33,000 students across multiple disciplines in addition to business.  It is the third largest public university in the state of Georgia.  The Executive Education Programs unit is dedicated to providing customized educational programs and services to mid-career individuals seeking supplemental and/or enhanced professional development.

About the Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional Program:

The Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional (CM&AP) Program from the Coles College of Business’s M&A Academy provides participants with the analytical and business tools needed to manage successful M&A transactions from strategy assessment to valuation, diligence, negotiations, and execution. It is ideal for M&A intermediaries and other professionals serving lower middle-market businesses, as well as senior management and business owners of the companies they serve. The program is led by Michael S. Salvador, Ph.D., Executive Director of Executive Education Programs at Coles, and J. Larry Stevens, CPA, a member of the faculty of the School of Accountancy.  Prior to their academic appointments, both gentlemen have long and distinguished careers with EY and PwC, respectively, where they led teams of specialists involved in all aspects of mergers & acquisitions, financial due diligence, valuation analysis, financial and tax structuring, and transaction advisory services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Market Pulse Report: 4th Quarter 2015

ibba-logo1-300x67The International Business Brokers Association and M&A Source in conjunction with Pepperdine University have released the results of the quarterly survey of members for the fourth quarter of 2015. I am proud to be one of the 348 professionals across 38 states that participated.

Highlights of the report include:
– The number one reason for selling a business continues to be retirement. Across most sectors, the number two reason continues to be burn-out.
– For businesses that sold for <$1,000,000, the primary motivation of the buyer was: “buying a job.” Above that price, corporate growth via acquisition becomes a bigger motivator.
– Geographically, the buyer for a business that sells for <$2,000,000 was located within 20 miles of the business. As the selling price of the business increases, the likelihood that the buyer will be “local” decreases.
– The average Main Street business sold for 91% of the asking price.

Selling multiples:
Selling price                                                  Median multiple
<$500,000                                                      2 x SDE
$500,000 – $1,000,000                              2.5 X SDE
$1,000,000 – $2,000,000                          3.3 X SDE
$2,000,000 – $5,000,000                         4.0 X EBITDA
$5,000,000 – $50,000,000                       5.1 X EBITDA

View the executive summary here:

See press release below:


Market Pulse Quarterly Report Shows 2015 Ended With Strong Sales of Businesses and Optimism is Growing for 2016

Main Street Market Was Incredibly Active in 2015; M&A Advisors Forecast 60 percent Net Increase in New Deals in 2016

For Immediate Release 2/16/2015
(Wichita, KS) – The quarterly Market Pulse Survey published by the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), M&A Source and the Pepperdine Private Capital Market Project showed that business sales remained strong in 2015 especially in the Main Street market. The Main Street market generally refers to smaller commercial establishments, so named because many are found in towns across the United States.

More than 60 percent of advisors who responded to the survey met or exceeded their 2014 closure records. Outlooks are positive and M&A advisors who aid business owners and buyers in selling and buying businesses expect a 60 percent net increase in new deals in 2016. Compared to a year ago optimism has grown and advisors anticipate greater deal flow, increased business exit opportunities for sellers and opportunities for business growth in 2016.

The Small Business Administration had a record year distributing more than $23.6 billion in loans in FY 2015. There was also significant private capital and traditional lending for the Main Street market in 2015 as 71 percent of Market Pulse study respondents who closed deals under $2MM in value reported that the businesses utilized financing other than SBA funds.
The SBA record year coupled with the traditional lending demonstrates how incredibly active for the Main Street market was in 2015.

The Q4 2015 survey which compares the conditions for businesses being sold in Main Street (values $0-$2MM) and the Lower Middle Market (values $2MM -$50MM) was completed by 348 business brokers and M&A advisors representing 38 states. Respondents completed 410 transactions in the 4th quarter of 2015.

The Market Pulse Survey showed that in Q4 2015 deals took longer to close across all sectors. Closing times nearly doubled in the Main Street market, while the Lower Middle Market also saw jumps of up to four months. New this survey, advisors reported on the average time for deals to move from letter of intent (LOI) or offer to closing. In every sector except the smallest, deals took three months to close after a signed LOI.

“Typically the larger the deal, the longer it takes to close,” says Craig Everett, PhD, director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project. “But the lower middle market has a large number of active buyers, and one way buyers win deals is to show they can close more quickly. As more buyers come to the table, advisors are able to run a more efficient process.”

Deal multiples remain strong, but advisors aren’t optimistic that multiples will climb any higher in 2016. Notably, advisors also suggest market conditions will remain relatively neutral when it comes to debt financing. However, they report some difficulty arranging financing for companies with revenues of $500,000 or less.
Additional Key Findings:
• Year over year, buyers are increasing their advantage in the Main Street market, particularly for the smallest businesses. Meanwhile, the seller’s market sentiment has improved, year over year, in the Lower Middle Market.

• Main Street businesses sold for approximately 91 percent of their asking price in Q4 2015. By comparison, Lower Middle Market businesses—which typically aren’t marketed with an asking price—received 99.5 percent of the internal benchmark set by the advisor and seller.

• In the smallest deal category (businesses valued at <$500K) first time buyers accounted for the largest buyer segment. In the largest deal category (businesses valued between $5MM to $50MM) private equity made up the largest buyer group. PE groups were not active at all in the <$500K segment, while individual buyers accounted for only 14 percent (7 percent first time buyers, 7 percent repeat owners) of the larger sector.

• Service companies (business and personal) continue to lead Main Street market activity in Q4 2015, with a strong showing in the Lower Middle Market as well. Manufacturing companies led the Lower Middle Market.

About International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and the M&A Source
Founded in 1983, IBBA is the largest non-profit association specifically formed to meet the needs of people and firms engaged in various aspects of business brokerage, and mergers and acquisitions. The IBBA is a trade association of business brokers providing education, conferences, professional designations and networking opportunities. For more information about IBBA, visit the website at

Founded in 1991, the M&A Source promotes professional development of merger and acquisition professionals so that they may better serve their clients’ needs, and maximize public awareness of professional intermediary services available for middle market merger and acquisition transactions. For more information about the M&A Source visit

About the Pepperdine University Graziadio School for Business and Management
A leader in cultivating entrepreneurship and digital innovation, the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management focuses on the real-world application of MBA-level business concepts. The Graziadio School provides student-focused, globally-oriented education through part-time, full-time, and executive MBA programs at our eight California campuses, as well as through online and hybrid formats. In addition, the Graziadio School offers a variety of Master of Science programs, a bachelor of science in management degree-completion program, and the Presidents and Key Executives MBA, as well as executive education certificate programs. Follow the Graziadio School on Facebook, Twitter at @GraziadioSchool , and LinkedIn.

Steve Fischer, CBI
VR Business Brokers of the Plains
Member IBBA / M&A Source

Scott M. Bushkie, IBBA President / Marketing Chair
Principal, Cornerstone Business Services, Inc.
(920) 436-9890

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Turnkey Business is a Good Thing

The Importance of Preparing Your Business for Sale Early.

Turnkey solutionI had lunch recently with a married couple who are of successful entrepreneurs. They have built a very nice business; it is profitable and well respected. It is a business that most of us would be proud to own. We were not meeting to determine if they were going to sell the business; they are years away from that. The purpose of the meeting was to learn what they need to be doing now, so that in 5 to 8 years their business will be ready for sale.

I wish more business owners thought this far ahead. Preparing your business for sale by operating it in a relatively turnkey manner is one of the most important things that a business owner can do. It makes the transition of ownership easier, increases the size of the pool of buyers and should make it more bankable. All of this should allow the owner to command a higher selling price. In addition to this, the day-to-day stresses on a business owner who operates a turnkey business should be less. After all, the people and processes for success are already in place and have been working.

The owners I had lunch with do not own a turnkey business. It still relies on both of them. One is the face of the operation; the other runs the back office. Since they are at least 5 years away from their anticipated selling time they have time to prepare. By meeting with a person who understands the business transfer process now, they can work to put the pieces in place for later.

Selling a business can be one on the most stressful processes that a business owner can be involved with. By preparing early, it may be possible to minimize these stresses and enhance your selling position. Waiting until the final days or for burn-out to set in is one of the biggest mistakes that a business owner can make. If you, a friend or a client own a business, there is no time like the present to find out what a professional thinks. Time spent can pay huge dividends later and make the journey that much more enjoyable.

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Owner for Kansas Business

Change in Ownership at Kensington Lockers, Kensington Kansas


The Exchanging of the Keys

Steve Fischer of VR Business Brokers in Wichita, Kansas, is proud to announce that Kensington Lockers in Kensington, Kansas, has new owners, Dylan and Deidra Tweedy of Kensington, Kansas.

A regional custom slaughterhouse and retail meat store, located approximately 220 miles north and west of Wichita, Kensington Lockers was reborn in 1976 by Wayne and Jolene Beckman. From an empty building to a perineal award winner, the Beckman’s have built the business into a regional institution. Dylan Tweedy and his wife, Deidra, will be the second owners of the business in its 40 year history.

Dylan, a Phillipsburg native, has a background with meat cutting experience. He will be working day-to-day in the operation, maintaining the established practices that have made the business a success. The Beckman’s have positioned the business well for sale and they should be able to transition the ownership seamlessly.

Our office was proud to work with Wayne and Jo during this process. It is not easy to build, operate and sell a business in a town of 450 people. They worked long and hard to reach this point.   In addition to working with the Beckman’s and Tweedy’s, our office was fortunate to be able to work with the accountants and attorneys for both parties, the bank, regulatory agencies, appraisers and inspectors to bring this transfer to a close. Over the course of the next several months, the Beckman’s will be working to transfer the recipes, expertise, knowledge and traditions that have made Kensington Lockers a success.

We would like to wish Wayne and Jo a long and happy retirement. We are also excited to watch the Tweedy’s as they embark on their new venture and wish them many, many years of success.


Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Change in Ownership at Cero’s Candies in Wichita, Kansas

SOLD!Steve Fischer of VR Business Brokers in Wichita, Kansas is proud to share that Cero’s Candies in Wichita, Kansas has new owners, Betty and Carson Albrecht.

Under the guidance of Pam Bishop and her daughter, Darcy Thrasher, since 2010, Cero’s is the third oldest continuously operating business in Wichita.  Founded in 1885, the business has served the sweet tooth of local, regional and national chocolate aficionado’s for 130 years.  Betty and Carson will be the fourth owners of the business.

The Albrecht’s initially approached our office to acquire a business in 2014.  With a solid background in retail and food service, Cero’s is a great fit for Betty, who will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the store.  She will be assisted at the store by her husband, Carson and two sons.  We are pleased to report that Cero’s will continue to be a truly family owned and operated business.  The Albrecht’s will be fantastic owners who will carry the Cero’s chocolate torch with pride.  We look forward to watching them as they embark in their new venture.

Our office was proud to work with Pam and Darcy when they originally acquired Cero’s.  We were even more proud to work with them, when personal circumstances necessitated that they sell.  The Bishops have worked hard to reach this point.  They will be working over the course of the next several months to transfer the recipes, expertise and traditions that have made Cero’s an institution.  We would like to wish Pam and Darcy well as they enter the next phases of their lives.

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May I capitalize on your emotions?

Emotion Wide Range Sadness Joy Surprise Anger Depression

Selling a business is one of the biggest decisions that a business owner will ever make. It is also one of the most emotional. Burn-out, pressure, greed, ego, unfamiliarity with the process all make a person emotionally vulnerable to a slick sales pitch, an all day seminar or a presentation where the goal is to get you to sign a listing agreement and possibly pay a big upfront fee.

Would a business broker capitalize on these emotions?

Have you ever been to a seminar where the end result was a high pressure attempt to get you to list your business for sale?

Have you ever been told exactly what you want to hear about a selling price for your business? Or better yet, it might be worth even more than you thought?

Have you ever been told how salable your business is, even when you know deep down inside that is it not?

Have you ever been asked for $8,000, $13,000, $30,000 or more to take your business to market?

It seems to me that there will always be someone in my profession willing to capitalize on your emotions. We need listings to make our websites look good or we want the opportunity to bind you to a long-term agreement where we can wear you down and sell your business for the price we should have started at. And if we are lucky, we will get you to pay a big up-front fee. This kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

Not all business brokers are that way. A large portion subscribe to a high ethical standard. I am proud to call them my peers. There are others who just don’t know what they are doing (in my opinion). They think selling a business is just like selling a building, piece of real estate or any other inanimate object. And sadly, it seems that there are some whose primary objective is to collect a big fee upfront, sign you to a multi-year sales or marketing agreement, give you a couple of fancy books and do little else. These folks and the ones willing to capitalize on your emotions do exist. Sadly, I can give you the names of people who have met them.

What should you do?

  • Start the process early, months or years in advance. Don’t wait until your emotions will trump your logic. Learn in advance what a professional thinks so you won’t be vulnerable to a slick sales pitch.
  • Check references. Ask your attorney, accountant, banker, financial planner or a fellow business owner. Google the name of the person or firm followed by the word ‘scam’.
  • Ask about their accreditations, affiliations and experiences. Are they an active member of the International Business Brokers Association, are they a Certified Business Intermediary? Do they do anything to expand their knowledge base? Just because they work under a franchise logo does not mean the answer to these questions is yes.
  • Take your time. Never sign a listing agreement until you are sure. Take it home, talk to your spouse or advisors and think about it. Do not let yourself be pressured. Have you ever heard the expression, “he who speaks first loses”. Think about that when a business broker puts a listing agreement in front of you and shuts up.

The moral of this blog is: For every emotion you have about selling your business, there is a person willing to capitalize on it. Start the process early, take your time and do it right. You have worked long and hard building your business. You owe it to yourself, your family, your business and your employees to sell it right.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you want me to buy your business: Be honest with me (and yourself).

  If you want me to buy your business, I need to be able to trust you.  I need to know that the relationships, data and operations that you are sharing as I make my decision are true and sincere.  I need to trust that what you have shared with me is legitimate and correct, that you are a person of honesty and integrity.  If you are not, why should I assume that your business will be sound once I assume ownership?  The statement made famous by Ronald Reagan, “Trust and verify” applies in business transfers.          We call it “Due Diligence”.

Due diligence is the process where the buyer verifies the accuracy of the information that has been shared about your business.  It can include your financial, licenses, vendors, customers, leases, employees and inventory, to name some things. If the representations that you make in one part of your business are found to be less than honest, how can I feel good about the other parts of your operation?  I have found it is better to share the strengths and faults of a business right from the start.  This way there are no surprises.  There is no reason for a buyer to lose trust, to think of you as dishonest.

Most business owners are great people but we’ve heard the story about the guy with two sets of books or the owner who did not think it vital to share that he was getting ready to lose his biggest customer, his primary vendor was in receivership and his #1 employee is retiring in 3 months.  These stories should keep us all on our toes.  These owners really do exist.

There are very few perfect businesses for sale in today’s market.  We all have our faults.  It is OK to admit them.  As long as our faults do not include lies, fraud or intentional exclusions, a realistic buyer should understand.  That’s business.  When it looks like you tried to sneak something by a buyer, it changes their entire perspective of you and your business.  Why should the buyer proceed if they can’t trust you?  If they do, what concessions are you going to make to get them to feel good about your business?

Posted in If You Want Me to Buy Your Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business Broker Scam Check

Google the word scam

ItScam always disappoints me when I see or hear about a business owner getting into a relationship with a bad business broker.  These are usually long, painful, expensive and unproductive for the business owner.  It creates a lot of ill will towards my profession.

It is always good to do a little research on a business broker before signing a listing agreement.  Two quick and easy ways to research are:

  1. Ask for references (and check them)
  2. Google their name followed by the word “scam”

The later has proven to be very telling for me over the years.  People are quick to share when they have had a bad experience and the internet has a long memory.  It is not necessarily 100% accurate but it should raise some red flags.  If there is too much chatter a business owner should take heed.

The next time a business broker or firm calls you, send a letter or invites you to a seminar, try Googling their name, followed by the word ‘SCAM”.  Do this before you meet, you may be surprised what you find.

PS: Don’t ever sign a listing agreement or give them money on your very first meeting. (That is a topic for another blog)

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Right Business Structure

What kind of business structure is right for you?

Corporation Word Cloud ConceptEvery business owner files a tax return.  How they do it and the way their business is structured for tax purposes can be very different. Should you be a Regular Corporation (C-Corp), Sub-Chapter S-Corporation, (S-Corp) a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or a Sole Proprietorship?  There is a justification for each.  It is up to you, your legal and accounting team to decide what works best for you.  The link below is to an article published on the from Mark J. Kohler with excerpts from his book the Tax and Legal Playbook

If you are ever thinking about selling your business, please read one of my earlier blogs on C-Corps and Double Taxation.

Posted in Uncategorized, Useful Shares | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment