There is a potentially lucrative group of buyers that many sellers don’t initially think about. We are talking about foreign buyers. While there are some hurdles to working with these types of buyers, it is important to note that there are many huge advantages as well. Let’s take a closer look.
How Are Foreign Buyers Different?
At the top of the list of ways in which foreign buyers are different is that they are often seeking a visa. Another commonality among foreign buyers, one that will surprise many, is that they may want access to the U.S. educational system.
It is common for foreign buyers to want to buy a business so that they can get their children into a particular U.S. school district or college. Sometimes the desire to be eligible for state tuition also plays a role in the selection of a business and the decision-making process. In this sense, business location takes on a level of importance that it might not have for domestic buyers.
It is important to keep in mind that there are cultural and business differences that play a role with foreign buyers. Everything from a different use of business terminology to expectations can play a role. This could impact negotiations.
What About Visas and Immigration?
One of the most important things to remember is that foreign buyers are often navigating the complex world of visas and immigration. Whether or not a visa is issued can dramatically impact whether or not a deal ultimately takes place. This fact is often built into agreements. For example, a purchase condition may be conditional upon visa approval. Nonrefundable deposits may also play a role in the process.
What Do Foreign Buyers Really Want?
Foreign buyers have been impacted by the pandemic too. Yet, some factors remain unchanged. Not too surprisingly, they will want to see that a business is profitable. In this regard, you should be able to showcase profitability in a clear fashion. You can expect foreign buyers to want to see tax returns and all the typical documentation that you’d need to provide to any buyer.
A second factor that foreign buyers are interested in is longevity. If your business has successfully operated for decades, this will be a major advantage.
Ultimately, most of what domestic buyers are looking for in a business will translate over to what foreign buyers are seeking as well. With that stated, however, there are factors that are often unique to foreign buyers. As mentioned above, navigating the often-complex visa process can add a wrinkle to the entire process.
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The buyer-seller meeting is quite often a “make or break” meeting. Your business broker or M&A Advisor will do everything possible to ensure that this meeting goes as well as possible.
It is vitally important to realize that rarely is there an offer before buyers and sellers actually meet. The all-important offer usually comes directly after this all-important meeting. As a result, you want to ensure that meetings are as positive and productive as possible.
Buyers need to understand how the process of selling a business works and what is expected of them from the process. Buyers also need to understand that following their broker’s advice will increase the chances of a successful outcome.
Sellers should be ready to be honest and forthcoming during the meeting. They also want to be sure to not say or do anything that could come across as a strong-armed sales tactic.
Asking the Right Questions
If you are a buyer preparing to meet a business owner for the first time, you’ll want to make sure any questions you ask are appropriate and logical. It is important for buyers to place themselves in the shoes of the other party.
Buyers also shouldn’t show up to the buyer-seller meeting without having done their homework. So be sure to do a little planning ahead so that you are ready to go with good questions that show you understand the business.
Building a Positive Relationship
Buyers should, of course, plan to be polite and respectful. They should also be prepared to avoid discussing politics and religion, which often can be flashpoints for confrontation. When sellers don’t like prospective buyers, then the odds are good that they will also not place trust in them.
For most sellers, their business is a legacy. It quite often represents years, or even decades, of hard work. Needless to say, sellers value their businesses. Many will feel as though it reflects them personally, at least in some fashion. Buyers should keep these facts in mind when dealing with sellers. A failure to follow these guidelines could lead to ill will between buyers and sellers and negatively impact the chances of success.
Sellers Should Be Truthful
Sellers also have a significant role in the process. While it is true that sellers are trying to sell their business, they don’t want to come across as a salesperson. Instead, sellers should try to be as real and honest as possible.
Every business has some level of competition. With this in mind, sellers should not pretend that there is zero competition. A savvy buyer will be more than a little skeptical.
The key to a successful outcome is for business brokers and M&A Advisors to work with their buyers and sellers well in advance and make sure that they understand what is expected and how best to approach the buyer-seller meeting. With the right preparation, the odds of success will skyrocket.
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