Lesson Plan: Acquiring a Business Using SBA 7(a) Loans - Week 1: Introduction and Preliminary Research

Week 1: Introduction and Preliminary Research


  • Understand the basics of SBA 7(a) loans.
  • Identify the steps involved in acquiring a business.


  1. Research SBA 7(a) Loans:

    • Read articles and guides on the SBA website about the 7(a) loan program.
    • Watch educational videos on YouTube about SBA loans.
  2. Familiarize with the Business Acquisition Process:

    • Review resources on SCORE.org about buying a business.
    • Read case studies of successful business acquisitions.


  • SBA.gov
  • SCORE.org
  • YouTube (search for SBA 7(a) loan tutorials)


Research SBA 7(a) Loans:

    To get started on acquiring a business using SBA 7(a) loans, you can follow these steps and use the available resources:

    Understanding SBA 7(a) Loans

    SBA 7(a) Loan Overview: The SBA 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary program for providing financial assistance to small businesses. These loans can be used for various purposes, including acquiring a business, real estate, equipment, working capital, and more. The maximum loan amount for a 7(a) loan is $5 million. Key eligibility criteria include being an operating business, operating for profit, and being located in the U.S.​​​​​​.

    Key Terms and Conditions:

    • Loan Amount: Up to $5 million.
    • Guaranty: Up to 85% for loans of $150,000 or less, and up to 75% for loans above $150,000.
    • Interest Rates: Negotiated between the borrower and lender but cannot exceed SBA maximum rates.
    • Use of Proceeds: Can include real estate acquisition, working capital, refinancing existing debt, and purchasing business assets or ownership changes.

    Eligibility: Businesses must:

    • Be an operating business in the U.S.
    • Operate for profit.
    • Be small under SBA size standards.
    • Demonstrate a reasonable ability to repay the loan.
    • Not be able to get credit elsewhere on reasonable terms.
    The requirement for an SBA 7(a) loan to "be an operating business in the U.S." does not necessarily mean that the business must already be making a profit before the loan is issued. Here are the key points:
    1. Operating Business: The business must be active and functioning in some capacity. This means it should be conducting business activities, even if it’s not yet profitable. The intent is to support businesses that are currently operating and generating revenue, rather than startups that are still in the idea or planning phase.

    2. Profitability: While profitability can strengthen your loan application, it is not a strict requirement. The SBA and lenders will look at the overall financial health and potential of the business, including its ability to repay the loan. Businesses that are not currently profitable but have strong business plans and financial projections demonstrating future profitability can still qualify.

    3. Financial Health: The business must demonstrate the ability to repay the loan. This includes having a solid business plan, reasonable financial projections, and, typically, a history of revenue generation. The SBA looks at factors like cash flow, credit history, and collateral to assess the risk of lending.

    4. Existing Debt: The loan can also be used to refinance existing business debt, which implies that the business does not need to be debt-free or highly profitable to qualify.

    Here are a few sources that confirm these points:

    These resources provide a detailed explanation of eligibility criteria and loan terms, confirming that while profitability is beneficial, it is not an absolute requirement for obtaining an SBA 7(a) loan. The emphasis is on the overall financial viability and potential of the business.

    Learning Resources

    SBA Website: Visit the SBA 7(a) Loans page for detailed information, guides, and application instructions.

    YouTube: Search for educational videos on SBA 7(a) loans. Channels like "SBA" and "Nav" offer tutorials and explanations about the loan process, eligibility, and application tips.

    The Pro’s and Con’s of the SBA 7a Loan - YouTube


    • Collateral Requirements may include your own personal home
    • Interest rate is adjustable/variable tied to Prime Rate


    • Low equity requirements
      • As long as the business has been in business for two years and profitable, no money down required by the SBA, but may be required by some lenders.
    • Longer terms == Lower Monthly Payment
    • Fully Amortizing Loan
    • No Prepayment Penalty, except on short three-year loans.
    • No Loan Covenants
    • Ability to include multiple uses inside the loan.
      • VS - Conventional loans would be separate loans for each purpose (new building, new equipment, new hiring). 

    Typically, 680 FICO or higher

    SBA7(a) - 
    • 10-year working capital product
    • Do not have to own any real estate
    • Used for improvements to the business, pull out working capital to scale
    • Can be used to purchase an existing business that is profitable.
      • 10% Down of purchase price
      • If you put down more than 10% you may be able to avoid a lien on your home
    • 3-Year Personal tax returns

    SBA504 - 
    • Real Estate 
    • Big Hard Asserts/Stationary Equipment
    • 25-year repayment term
    • 10% down
    *This video also covers specific requirements and documents to cover.


    Familiarize with the Business Acquisition Process:

    Familiarizing yourself with the business acquisition process is essential for ensuring a successful transition and maximizing the potential of your new venture. Here are the steps and key aspects to consider:

    Steps in the Business Acquisition Process

    1. Identify Your Objectives and Criteria:

      • Determine what type of business you want to acquire based on your interests, skills, and financial capacity.
        • Consider what skills, passions, and interests you have that lend to your credibility taking ownership of a business like this, especially if it is your first business.
        • See below for a more detailed breakdown.
      • Define criteria such as industry, location, size, and profitability.

    2.    Search for Potential Businesses:

    3. Initial Evaluation and Due Diligence:

    • Request preliminary information like financial statements, tax returns, and operational details.
    • Conduct a thorough due diligence process to assess the financial health, legal status, and operational efficiency of the business.

    4. Valuation:

    • Learn and apply different valuation methods such as asset-based, earnings value, and market value approaches.
    • Consider hiring a professional business appraiser to ensure an accurate valuation.

    5. Financing the Acquisition:

    • Explore financing options, including personal funds, SBA 7(a) loans, seller financing, and investors.
    • Prepare a strong business plan and financial projections to present to lenders.

    6. Negotiation and Offer:

    • Negotiate terms of the sale, including price, payment structure, and contingencies.
    • Make a formal offer or Letter of Intent (LOI) outlining the terms of the purchase.

    7. Legal and Regulatory Compliance:

    • Work with a business attorney to draft and review purchase agreements and ensure compliance with all legal requirements.
    • Check for necessary licenses, permits, and zoning regulations.

    8. Final Due Diligence and Closing:

    • Conduct a final review of all documentation and agreements.
    • Complete the closing process, including signing all legal documents and transferring ownership.

    9. Transition Planning:

    • Develop a transition plan to ensure smooth operations post-acquisition.
    • Communicate with employees, customers, and suppliers about the change in ownership.


    Identifying the Right Business for You

    Determining what type of business you want to acquire is a critical step in ensuring your success as a new business owner. Here’s a detailed guide to help you align your acquisition targets with your interests, skills, and financial capacity

    1. Self-Assessment

    Skills and Experience:

    • Industry Knowledge: Consider industries where you have previous experience or substantial knowledge. This can include sectors you’ve worked in or studied extensively.
    • Management Skills: Assess your ability to manage operations, finances, marketing, and human resources. These skills are crucial for running any business effectively. 
      • Will you need to hire an HR Director or use someone like ADP to ensure compliance and risk are addressed?
    • Technical Skills: Technical expertise can be a significant asset, particularly in industries requiring specialized knowledge (e.g., IT, manufacturing). 
      • Are you technical enough to handle all the operations or will you need either an IT Director or third-party IT contractor to assist? 

    Passions and Interests:

    • Personal Interests: Reflect on what you are passionate about. Owning a business aligned with your interests can keep you motivated and engaged.
    • Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities: Sometimes, hobbies can translate into successful businesses (e.g., a cooking enthusiast might excel in the food industry).

    Financial Capacity:

    • Budget: Determine how much capital you can invest. Include savings, potential loans, and investments from partners.
    • Risk Tolerance: Consider how much financial risk you are willing to take. High-risk industries might offer higher rewards but also come with greater uncertainties.

    Matching Skills and Interests to Business Types

    Examples of Business Types

    Service-Based Businesses:

    • Consulting: Ideal if you have expertise in a specific field (e.g., business, IT, marketing).
    • Personal Services: Such as fitness training, coaching, or beauty services. These businesses can thrive if you have a strong client network and people skills.

    Product-Based Businesses:

    • Retail: Requires an understanding of inventory management, customer service, and sales.
    • Manufacturing: Suitable if you have technical skills and knowledge of production processes.

    Tech and Online Businesses:

    • E-commerce: Beneficial if you have digital marketing skills and a knack for online sales.
    • Software Development: Ideal if you have coding skills and understand software lifecycle management.

    Evaluating Your Credibility

    Building Credibility

    Educational Background:

    • Highlight any degrees or certifications relevant to the business industry. For example, a degree in hospitality management would be beneficial for running a restaurant.

    Professional Experience:

    • Leverage your work history. For instance, if you’ve worked in retail management, acquiring a retail store might be a good fit.

    Network and Mentorship:

    • Tap into your professional network for advice and support. Having mentors in the industry can provide valuable insights and enhance your credibility.

    Track Record:

    • If you’ve successfully managed projects or teams in the past, use these achievements to demonstrate your capability to potential lenders and partners.

    Financial Considerations

    Initial Investment:

    • Calculate the total amount needed to purchase the business, including the purchase price, initial operating expenses, and any necessary improvements.

    Funding Sources:

    • Personal Savings: Use your savings to cover part of the acquisition cost.
    • Loans: Explore SBA 7(a) loans, traditional bank loans, or microloans.
    • Investors: Consider bringing in partners or investors to share the financial burden.

    Steps to Align Your Business Choice with Personal Factors

    1. List Your Strengths and Weaknesses:

      • Create a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to identify where you excel and where you might need support.
    2. Research Industries:

      • Look into industries that align with your strengths. Use resources like industry reports, market analysis, and news articles to understand current trends and opportunities.
    3. Identify Potential Businesses:

      • Use platforms like BizBuySell and BusinessBroker.net to find businesses for sale that match your criteria.
    4. Conduct Market Research:

      • Study the local market, competitors, and customer demographics for the businesses you’re considering. This will help you understand the potential for growth and profitability.
    5. Seek Professional Advice:

      • Consult with business brokers, financial advisors, and industry experts. Their insights can help you make an informed decision.

    By following these steps and thoroughly evaluating your interests, skills, and financial capacity, you can identify a business that not only fits your personal profile but also has a high potential for success under your ownership.


    Resources for Learning and Support

    1. SBA.gov: For detailed information on SBA loans and business planning.

    2. SCORE:

    3. Small Business Development Centers (SBDC):

      • These centers offer free consulting and training services. Find your local SBDC through the SBA website. Provide consulting and training services for small business owners.
      • Find an SBDC near you
    4. Books and Online Courses:

      • Books like "The Art of Business Valuation" by Gregory R. Caruso and "Buy Then Build" by Walker Deibel offer valuable insights.
      • Online courses on platforms like Udemy and Coursera on business acquisition and valuation.
    5. Websites and Online Communities:

    By following these steps and utilizing these resources, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the business acquisition process and increase your chances of success in acquiring a profitable business.


    Next Steps

    1. Research and Identify Businesses for Sale:

      • Use platforms like BizBuySell to find businesses that are on the market.
      • Network with local business owners and attend industry events.
    2. Assess Financial Viability:

      • Review financial statements, tax returns, and other financial documents of the businesses you are interested in.
      • Learn about business valuation methods to ensure you are making a sound investment.
    3. Create a Business Plan:

      • Utilize templates and guides from SCORE to develop a comprehensive business plan that includes your strategy for operating and growing the acquired business.
    4. Apply for Financing:

      • Approach SBA-approved lenders with your business plan and financial information to start the loan application process.
    5. Negotiate and Close the Deal:

      • Work with a business attorney to understand the legal aspects of the acquisition.
      • Negotiate terms with the current business owner and finalize the purchase.
    6. Transition and Manage:

      • Plan for a smooth transition of ownership and focus on managing the business effectively.

    By following these steps and utilizing available resources, you can navigate the process of acquiring a business using SBA 7(a) loans effectively.

    Shalom שָׁלוֹם: Live Long and Prosper!
    Darrell Wolfe
    Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Freelancer

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