Business Opportunities – 9 Things to Watch Out For

If you are considering striking out and starting a new business, you have probably been investigating what are known as “business opportunities”. A business opportunity is usually a complete package that contains a product or line of products, and a marketing strategy for selling that product.

Any business opportunity worth considering will either have a track record that you can investigate and evaluate, or it will have a clear statement of the plan, the potential, and the up-front costs. Before investing any time or money in a specific business opportunity there are some things you should consider. Here are some of the more important ones:

  • How long has the business opportunity been in business? – Before investing time and money in marketing a business opportunity it is important to determine how long that business opportunity has been operating. If it is a new concept that has not been proven in the marketplace, you have no assurance that it will even work.
  • Does the company have a fixed address and phone number? – This may seem obvious to you, but the fact is, thousands of “companies” operate with nothing more than a website and an email address. Many of them are here today and gone tomorrow. Make sure the business you intend to deal with has a fixed address, physical location, and established phone number.
  • Does the business opportunity have some successful members you can talk to? – Most business opportunities will show you “testimonials”, but these are often untrustworthy. They could even be completely fabricated. Ask the owner of the business opportunity for names of real people you can talk to. Call them on the telephone and ask them to share their experiences with the program. This will not only provide you with valuable first-hand information about the program, but it will give you a list of advisors who many be happy to help you along the way.
  • How much initial investment is required? – In many cases a proven business opportunity with a successful track record will involve some kind of initial investment. This could involve an initial amount of product inventory, a program subscription fee, or possibly a piece of equipment required to produce or finish the product. You should not assume that a business opportunity that is free to join is a better investment. Usually a free-to-join business opportunity will involve other costs such as marketing and advertising fees. Nobody gives away “opportunities” for free. What you have to determine is whether a specific business opportunity has a successful track record, is managed by honest people, and offers you a realistic chance of actually making some money. These are the things you must weigh against the entry costs.
  • What is the realistic income potential of the business? – Have a careful look at the numbers and projections provided by the business opportunity. Then talk with actual members who are using the program to determine if they have been able to turn those numbers into reality.
  • Are there extra fees such as yearly or monthly subscription fees, shipping costs, or minimum purchase requirements? – Make sure to get a detailed list of all the fees involved in operating the new business. These things may not seem significant now, but they can easily eat into your profits later.
  • Who controls the money? – When you generate sales for the business opportunity what assurance do you have that you will get your share of the profits? This is the primary reason not to deal with “fly by night” outfits that have no track record. Again, the best way to get an accurate reading on this is to talk with people already using the program.
  • Does the business opportunity supply marketing materials and person-to-person mentoring? – One of the most difficult parts of starting a new business is “learning the ropes”. It can be extremely helpful to have advisors who have first hand experience in making the program work. The same goes for marketing materials. You will have enough to do without having to create brochures, ads, and newsletters for your new business.
  • How much control of your new business will you have? – Be clear on who owns the business, and who controls the way it is developed and marketed. You may want to diversify your product offerings in order to avoid being at the mercy of “head office”. Remember that you are trying to create a business that has long term value. This will involve considerable investment of time and energy on your part. You don’t want your business to be completely dependent on the stability and integrity of a single supplier.

The ideal business opportunity is one that is offered by a stable company with a proven track record. The business opportunity should require low initial investment and have high profit potential both in the short term and in the long term. It should allow you to build a profitable business of your own that will be a source of income far into the future.

Business Loan Strategies to Buy a Business Opportunity

When buying a business opportunity that does not include commercial property, borrowers should realize that business loan options will be significantly different when compared to a business purchase that can be acquired with a commercial property loan. This problematic situation occurs because of the normal absence of commercial real estate as collateral for the business financing when buying a business opportunity. In terms of arranging the business loan, efforts to buy a business opportunity are almost always described by commercial borrowers as excessively confusing and difficult.

The comments and suggestions in this report reflect business financing conditions that are frequently offered by substantial lenders willing to provide a business loan to buy a business opportunity throughout most of the United States. There are likely to be circumstances in which a seller will privately fund the acquisition of a business opportunity, and it is not our intent to address those business loan possibilities in this report.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS LOAN STRATEGIES:

Buying a Business Opportunity – Length of Business Financing to Anticipate

Business financing conditions to buy a business opportunity will frequently involve a reduced amortization period compared to commercial mortgage financing. A maximum term of ten years is typical, and the business loan is likely to require a commercial lease equal to the length of the loan.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS LOAN STRATEGIES:

Expected Interest Rate Costs for Buying a Business Opportunity

The likely range to buy a business opportunity is 11 to 12 percent in the present commercial loan interest rate circumstances. This is a reasonable level for business opportunity borrowing since it is not unusual for a commercial real estate loan to be in the 10-11 percent area. Because of the lack of commercial property for lender collateral in a small business opportunity transaction, the cost of a business loan to acquire a business is routinely higher than the cost of a commercial property loan.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS LOAN STRATEGIES:

Down Payment Expectations to Buy a Business Opportunity

A typical down payment for business financing to buy a business opportunity is 20 to 25 percent depending on the type of business and other relevant issues. Some financing from the seller will be viewed as helpful by a commercial lender, and seller financing might also decrease the business opportunity down payment requirement.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS LOAN STRATEGIES:

Refinancing Alternatives After Buying a Business Opportunity

A critical commercial loan term to expect when acquiring a business opportunity is that refinancing business opportunity financing will routinely be more problematic than the acquisition business loan. There are presently a few business financing programs being developed that are likely to improve future business refinancing alternatives. It is of critical importance to arrange the best terms when buying the business and not rely upon business opportunity refinancing possibilities until these new commercial financing options are finalized.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS LOAN STRATEGIES:

Buying a Business Opportunity – Lenders to Avoid

The selection of a commercial lender might be the most important phase of the business financing process for buying a business. An equally important task is avoiding lenders that are unable to finalize a commercial loan for buying a business.

By eliminating such problem lenders, business borrowers will also be in a better position to avoid many other business loan problems typically experienced when buying a business. The proactive approach to avoid problem lenders can have dual benefits because it will contribute to both the long-term financial condition of the business being acquired and the ultimate success of the commercial loan process.

Copyright 2005-2007 AEX Commercial Financing Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Franchise Opportunities Vs Business Opportunities: Pros and Cons

Congratulations!

So you’ve decided to be your own boss rather than work for someone else the rest of your life. Good for you! Many decisions will crop up before you make that first deposit or paste that first dollar bill on the wall next to your cash register. Choosing what sort of business you wish to operate is tops on the list – retail versus wholesale and service-related versus product-oriented – as well as the specific industry you plan to enter or the type of work you hope to do. But selecting between two major categories of self-employment is awfully high on that list – buying a business opportunity as opposed to a franchise opportunity.

What is a Franchise?

Many U.S. companies, especially those in the retail sector, provide goods and services through franchisees. If it’s a national brand, chances are good the owner of that particular establishment has purchased the right to operate it from the parent company. Fast-food restaurants are one major category, but the concept extends to everything from car repair shops and daycare centers to mobile veterinary clinics and home cleaning services. By paying an up-front fee, plus perhaps a percentage of your monthly gross revenue for ongoing licensure, you have the opportunity to become an independent operator with the full backing of a major corporation.

What is a Business Opportunity?

A business opportunity is far less structured than its franchise equivalent. You are given basic information about an industry and how to operate within it, but you’re under no obligation to promote a particular brand or to do business in a particular or controlled manner.

Franchise Opportunity Benefits

By purchasing a franchise, you gain immediate name recognition and credibility. No one questions the fact that Dairy Queen is a great place to buy soft-serve ice cream treats. Because the parent company is invested in making your business a success – they can’t collect that monthly payment or use you as a reference for new franchisees if you’re out of business – they provide both initial and ongoing training, regional or national ad campaigns, and well-tested business methods that are guaranteed to work. If the business requires a storefront, the company will usually help you find a good spot with lots of traffic, and perhaps even offer some sort of financing arrangement. Does the business require specific supplies or inventory? You will probably be offered significant discounts, since buying in bulk across the enterprise usually leads to lower prices for all.

The Downside to Franchise Opportunities

A legitimate franchisor will not allow you to buy into their system unless you pass a rigorous review process, which usually includes a careful analysis of your finances, your business experience, and your willingness to accept all their rules and regulations without question. Most franchise fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, plus you will have to spend additional money for equipment, supplies, and a location from which to operate – unless you are involved in a mobile business (which still probably requires a dedicated vehicle or two) or one you work from home. Some of your earnings every month will go toward a license fee, payable to the home office, and you may also be required to share some marketing expenses.

Business Opportunity Benefits

You will generally spend less money to acquire a business opportunity than you would a franchise opportunity. By definition alone, there is no upfront franchise fee, plus you usually keep all of your revenue rather than paying ongoing franchise or royalty fees. You are free to choose any business name you like, and even branch out into other areas as you see a need in the community. For example, if you purchased a hamburger fast-food franchise, you could only serve the items on the “approved” list. By buying a business opportunity, if you liked pies – well, you could sell whatever kind of pie you wished. You are also able to operate pretty much anywhere without fear of stepping on someone else’s toes. Franchises can have some very strict territorial guidelines.

The Downside to Business Opportunities

The acquisition of a business opportunity rarely gives you the option to use trademarks, brand names, or other elements readily identifiable to the buying public. The freedom you have to do things your own way also means your chances of success rest entirely in your ability to run a business. There is no home office support, no massive buying power for equipment, inventory or supplies, and no other business owners to consult when you’re faced with an issue that needs to be resolved. In a very real sense, you are on your own.

The Bottom Line

In many respects, deciding between a franchise and a business opportunity comes down to two main factors – how much money you have to spend, and what kind of a personality you possess. Rule-followers can become great franchisees, while people who like to go off in their own direction – maybe not so much. Be sure to weigh all the factors before you decide which is best for you.