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Exiting the Slowlane by Buying a Business

A detailed account of a Fastlane process...

Bones81

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Quick 2 elements I just want to break down a bit here.

1) The financial aspect
2) The lifestyle aspect based on your last post

1) Financial
In the current climate even with rate rises you can get away with way more leverage than just your equity being 35% depending on what makes sense for you.

SBA wants 10% if you know how to talk, 20% if you don't. So $450k down becomes $2.25M - $4.5M.

If you don't use the SBA and instead find a good local business with a more aged owner you can leverage your cash in the same way and have the lender hold some, the bank come up with some and your capital is leveraged in between. For example, 40% of the purchase being bank debt where they might want to see 20% of that being your money. Then the rest as a vendor take back. So $1.8M debt + your $450k + $3.375M VTB.

If you can get something for 2.5-3.5x unlevered free cashflow that puts you somewhere between $642k - $2.25M cashflow annually. So you would be able to fit the second piece in which is lifestyle.

2) Negative Work Habits + Your Weaknesses
They are significant if you aren't willing to work on them. When your money is tied up in a deal and you have bank debt - you don't want to have an unmotivating day and not show up. But if you leverage somewhere between the above range, you can get a more experienced manager/operator in that you oversee which leaves you with some freedom.

That said, you should still account for a few months up to a year to be hands-on learning all the ins and outs so if that manager fails, you don't end up belly up.

The alternative to all this is look into something more passive revenue driven where your leverage numbers are about in-line and just keep the job while you build it more.

Something like a niche site, content site or similar. It's much harder to find good scenario ones (meaning people retiring from it vs just selling to invest somewhere else - in most of those arbitrage cases the business was NOT well taken care of for a while).

But 25-40% down with a lender backing is about normal, but so are 3-4x valuations meaning your $450k will get you $281k - $600k cashflow. Enough to still be able to bring someone in to help with operating/growing.

That was a big brain dump, but if you can - stick where you know best and stick within the habits you have. Don't expect just because you have 3x more cash coming in you'll be motivated to change those habits - you won't. Also at low leverage (meaning low profit/revenue), don't expect a good management team to be in place and stay in place. Even at +$5M revenue we rarely find decent management, the ones we do find need a equity + bonuses to stick.

Last bit - people's direction towards real estate may be a better fit TBH. Lower leverage, lower cashflow, but less direct hands-on work.
Thanks for the feedback. As far as the down payment, the most I'd probably do is $250k. That would leave me with a decent amount of liquidity outside of the business, or money to use to grow the business.

I'll have to spend some time deciding how much leverage I want to take on. The potential 90% SBA funding is tempting, and might be a good play if I had previous experience, but I don't know if I want that much of the business' cash flow tied up in debt service and there's less margin for error if profits slip for whatever reason. Ultimately I think it will depend on the specific company I'm acquiring.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about online vs brick and mortar businesses. If I did online, I'd probably go more towards the e-commerce route. Something that isn't entirely dependent on Google search or Amazon. If it had a solid customer / email list and had decent sales channels outside of Amazon, then it would be something to consider. Recent supply chain woes have also exposed another weakness of these businesses if you're sourcing internationally. I occasionally hop on Empire Flippers to check out what's on offer there.

Brick and mortar has appeal as there are still plenty of baby boomers out there looking to retire that have great businesses for the taking. If I could find one where the owner would be willing to stay on as an employee or advisor while I learned the business, that would also be a huge plus. A lot of these businesses have plenty of identifiable growth opportunities, the owners just haven't pursued them for whatever reason. These businesses tend to be more difficult to find than online businesses, which means there's less competition for them and thus you can potentially find better deals.

As far as my work habits, I'm not too concerned about them. I held down investment banking jobs working crazy hours for over a decade, so I know what I'm capable of. Finding and learning about a business that is legitimately interesting to me, knowing that all of the success or failure will be mine, and the fact that I will have a lot of skin in the game are all pretty motivating to me. Even if the company is large enough that it already has management in place, I would still be involved in the day to day until I was confident I could manage it on my own or train another manager if needed. At that point, I could focus more on strategic issues and perhaps enjoy a bit more free time. The fact that I'll be living in a place where there's skiing and hiking nearby will provide for a much better work/life balance that when I was in Houston.
 
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Bones81

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Sound like real estate is good option for you since it doesnt require talking skills like might a restaurant owner need.
buy 12 + multi family duplex, and since you are good in finance you should be good about securing money and check cashflow.
I've considered real estate but haven't really dug into the numbers to see how the returns on something like a multi-family unit compare to businesses I could buy with the same funds. Perhaps now with the economy slowing down and interest rates are driving some people out of the market, RE might be worth a look if it begins to level off or come down a bit.
 

backz

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May 22, 2015
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've spent a lot of time thinking about online vs brick and mortar businesses. If I did online, I'd probably g

Yes and no on debt service, even with 90% SBA, you can negotiate 12-24 month no payments or 24-36 month interest only terms and push out amoritzation. If you negotiate with the seller and bank well you can always have +50% cashflow free beyond debt service. And if you leverage a note on the 10% down or do a 5% down from you + 5% from the seller as a note, you can further push out debt service if you choose.

Big one is seller negotiation, for local you can easily get 12-24 month transition times in the deal for no cost and a negotiated discount after the fact. Honestly in this market, it's all up to your own imagination in terms of how aggressive you can get.

Digital is harder for sure on that end. But end of the day, if you go the business route vs real estate - make sure you're 1000000% confident that you can make the business work for you. Fly at the first sign of anything fishy or uncomfortable. Honestly, so far gut has been 100% spot on each time for ours.
 

fastlane_dad

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Awesome adventure and excited to see which route you decide to go. Already sounds like you got some stories to tell of your last few years.

There are obviously pros and cons to building up a business from scratch - VS buying something more established generating cash flow. There is definitely not a shortage of businesses for sale - but as you mentioned, your skillset, and the lifestyle you want to live/lead into the future can determine what you would be more apt for.

And of course there is always the inherent risks of buying a business as in you don't see all the glue coming undone until you are sometimes in the thick of it, of why the owner was looking to sell.

Great story to follow , would be interesting to track this journey as we don't see too many businesses being bought / built up on these boards. Good Luck!
 
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Vas87

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Great to see you're focused on reaching your initial goal. Are you using brokers to find businesses for sale or contacting owners directly?
 

Bones81

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Great to see you're focused on reaching your initial goal. Are you using brokers to find businesses for sale or contacting owners directly?
I'll do both. Before I can approach anyone, I'll need to know which lawyer, accountant, business appraiser, bank, etc. that I'll be using. So next step is to reach out to these various individuals and start interviewing them. I'll also need to define the types of businesses that I'm looking for in regards to personality and skill fit, industry, and amount I'm willing to spend.

Once I can show business brokers that I'm a serious buyer with advisors in place and financing lined up, I can use them to go out and look for deals.

Ideally though, I'd like to find a business on my own. Usually the best businesses don't need to list with a broker to sell; the owners already know people who would buy them out and they can save themselves the broker's commission. Also, if I can find a deal on my own, I'm the sole bidder and can potentially avoid a bidding war that you can run into with listed businesses.
 

cv621

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May 22, 2022
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I'll do both. Before I can approach anyone, I'll need to know which lawyer, accountant, business appraiser, bank, etc. that I'll be using. So next step is to reach out to these various individuals and start interviewing them. I'll also need to define the types of businesses that I'm looking for in regards to personality and skill fit, industry, and amount I'm willing to spend.

Once I can show business brokers that I'm a serious buyer with advisors in place and financing lined up, I can use them to go out and look for deals.

Ideally though, I'd like to find a business on my own. Usually the best businesses don't need to list with a broker to sell; the owners already know people who would buy them out and they can save themselves the broker's commission. Also, if I can find a deal on my own, I'm the sole bidder and can potentially avoid a bidding war that you can run into with listed businesses.
There is a social media personality named Cody Sanchez that you might want to look into. Her whole persona is about investing in "boring" business that cashflow. Technically not super fastlane like you mentioned, but it all comes down to reviewing finances and determining the in's and out's of said business's. These include laundromats and storage facilities.
 
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Bones81

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There is a social media personality named Cody Sanchez that you might want to look into. Her whole persona is about investing in "boring" business that cashflow. Technically not super fastlane like you mentioned, but it all comes down to reviewing finances and determining the in's and out's of said business's. These include laundromats and storage facilities.
Yeah, I'm on her mailing list and they provide some useful info. Recently had an article about purchasing parking lots, bringing in all the automation tech that boost revenues and eliminate employees and making really good returns. No rocket science or reinventing the wheel there, just solving a simple problem.
 

Bones81

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There is a social media personality named Cody Sanchez that you might want to look into. Her whole persona is about investing in "boring" business that cashflow. Technically not super fastlane like you mentioned, but it all comes down to reviewing finances and determining the in's and out's of said business's. These include laundromats and storage facilities.
Speaking of Cody, they sent out an email today about the trucking business. This is one I've considered before as it doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist to understand or operate. I'm going to dig in a bit more to understand what the industry looks like with gas prices the way they are. I imagine anyone who hasn't hedged their fuel costs are feeling the pain right now. From a CENTS standpoint, entry is probably where this one is the weakest.

Here's the link to the article:

If No One Thinks You’re Crazy, You’re Late
 

thechosen1

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Speaking of Cody, they sent out an email today about the trucking business. This is one I've considered before as it doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist to understand or operate. I'm going to dig in a bit more to understand what the industry looks like with gas prices the way they are. I imagine anyone who hasn't hedged their fuel costs are feeling the pain right now. From a CENTS standpoint, entry is probably where this one is the weakest.

Here's the link to the article:

If No One Thinks You’re Crazy, You’re Late
We've talked about Codie on here a bit; I was kind of critical because she made it sound so easy but TBH her stuff is gold. If you're going this route I'd say her content is as good as the book "Buy Then Build." Have you picked an industry? Really excited to see where you go!
 
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Bones81

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We've talked about Codie on here a bit; I was kind of critical because she made it sound so easy but TBH her stuff is gold. If you're going this route I'd say her content is as good as the book "Buy Then Build." Have you picked an industry? Really excited to see where you go!
Yeah, I think that's just the way most people market, always making it seem a bit easier than it seems. The thing I like about her is they present plenty of real world examples, so it does a good job of opening my mind to possibilities and having a more creative and positive mindset when it comes to opportunities.

I actually just started re-reading Buy then Build. I read it a few years ago and am now going back through it.
 

Bigguns50

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Hey @Bones81 .... following. Nice thread. You've done your homework and due diligence. I'm all about this. I considered an SBA loan for an upcoming business. For me, the benefit was if the business fails, I owe nothing. Con was it takes considerably longer to process the loan. I also connected with an SBA advisor locally who was a banking executive....free of charge.
 

Bones81

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So I took a look through the 2022 Business Reference Guide and these are the initial list of businesses I believe I could be capable of running:

• Ambulatory Surgical Centers
• Appliance Repair
• Auto Repair Shops
• Diagnostic Imaging Centers
• Distribution/Wholesale – Beer
• Dry Cleaners
• E-Commerce
• Environmental Testing
• Fertility Clinics
• Food Service Equipment and Supplies
• Freight Forwarding
• Freight Trucking
• Funeral Homes/Services
• Gas Stations w/Convenience Stores/Minimarts
• Hearing Aid Clinics
• Home Health Care/Home Care Agencies
• Home Health Care Rental
• Home Inspection
• HVAC
• Investment Advice/Financial Planning
• Janitorial Services
• Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
• Medical Billing
• Medical Spas
• Parking Lots & Garages
• Pest Control
• Pharmacies & Drugstores
• Physical Therapy
• Plumbers
• Portable Toilet Companies
• Printing
• Records Management
• Property Management Companies
• Remediation Services
• RV Parks
• Self Storage
• Solar Panel Installation
• Tire Stores
• Title Abstract & Settlement Offices
• Truck Stops
• Urgent Care Centers
• Vending Machine Industry
• Waste/Garbage/Trash Collection

Next I'll start filtering these based on those which are realistic for me to own. A lot of these businesses are medical related. Depending on which state you live in, they may require the owner to be a physician or hold special licenses. Some may be more expensive that what I can afford on my own and would require me find equity partners.

After that, I'll have to start screening them from a CENTS perspective. I'm ok buying something that starts out as a job as I learn the business, but needs to be something I can scale and separate from my time eventually.

Would love to hear thoughts from people who have any experience in these industries.
 
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The Sandman

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Watching! Found this thread while looking for posts relevant to my journey. I'm also looking to stop being an employee and become an owner. I'm specifically looking for manufacturing businesses.

Here's my intro thread:

....
• I have a better understanding of accounting and finance than Average Joe, but that’s about it. I feel I have more of a CFO skillset rather than a CEO's. I should be able to structure a deal on more favorable terms than others can.

Now you've peaked my interest in another way. My skillset is on the operations side. I've always worked closely with accounting as they're the scorekeepers: my operational improvements need to show up in the books! So I really value what a good accountant brings to the table.

My base-scenario is to go it alone, but I'd consider partnering in the right situation. If you're interested in discussing the possibility let me know.
 

Bones81

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Business Research.png

So I grabbed the relevant data from the 2022 Business Reference Guide and dropped it into a spreadsheet. I then went in and color coded the data into good (green), ok (orange), and bad (red) to see if any really jumped out to me.

On the metrics I selected:

SDE & EBITDA Multiples - Generally speaking, the higher these multiples, the more stable/resilient these companies tend to be. Also, larger companies tend to sell at a higher multiple than smaller ones, again, because they are viewed as less-risky. You can see where businesses like self-storage and parking lots have a higher multiples as they're viewed more as a real estate plays that generate cash flow versus something like a solar panel installation business which might be more cyclical and volatile. In general, I'd prefer to buy a business in an industry that has higher multiples.

Average Profit Margin % - Preference is for higher margin businesses. This gives you more cushion in situations where revenues are decreasing and/or costs are increasing.

Revenue per Employee - This is important to me as I'd prefer a business with just a few employees and therefore, would like to get as much bang for my buck per employee that I can. This can be a bit deceiving for businesses that have high revenues but low margins (like a beer distributorship), but you can see where something requiring specialized skills generates much more revenue per employee than something requiring unskilled labor.

Average Number of Employees - Pretty self explanatory. If I can make the same amount of money with 2 employees versus 20, I'll take that deal all day.

Growth Rates - Give an indication about how the industry has done and is projected to do. Want to make sure I'm getting into something which has a good future versus something that is in decline.

General Thoughts on These Industries:

Ambulatory Surgical Centers - Pros: Sell for good multiples, nice margins, good growth rates. Cons: Requires lots of employees, likely more expensive than what I can afford/finance on my own; would require partners. May require specific licensing/red tape to own/operate.

Auto Repair Shops - Pros: Low number of employees, average multiples, stable industry. Cons: One shop alone isn't Fastlane, would need to scale through expansion or potential franchising.

Diagnostic Imaging Centers - Pros: Good multiples, revenue/employee, and margins. Cons: More employees, may not be able to afford on my own, may require specific licensing/red tape to own/operate.

Distribution/Wholesale – Beer - I've heard these are very difficult to find and likely go for much more than what I can afford.

Dry Cleaners - Pros: Doesn't require a lot of employees. Cons: Just average multiples and margins, negative growth (work from home?), would have to scale or franchise to fastlane.

E-Commerce - This one is so broad, you have to really niche down into your product to get accurate figures. Pros: Few employees, large revenue/employee, very scalable, healthy growth. Cons: very competitive, potentially low/squeezing margins

Environmental Testing - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples, margins, revenue/employee. Cons: larger amount of employees.

Fertility Clinics - Pros: Ok growth rate and revenue/employee. Cons: Low margins, tons of employees, mediocre EBITDA multiples, may not be able to afford on my own, special licensing/red tape.

Food Service Equipment and Supplies - Pros: Good sales multiples, decent margins. Cons: likely requires a lot of employees.

Freight Forwarding - Pros: Good revenue/employee and future growth. Cons: Margins and EBITDA multiples aren't the greatest.

Freight Trucking - Pros: Few employees, decent growth, and revenue/employee. Cons: High employee turnover, margins can squeeze on fuel prices, sales multiples not the greatest.

Funeral Homes/Services - Pros: Good sales multiples, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Not high growth but super stable. May need multiple locations to fastlane. Depending if real estate is owned or leased, may not be able to afford on my own.

Gas Stations w/Convenience Stores/Minimarts - Pros: Good Revenue/Employee, good industry growth. Cons: Low margin, more employees, would need to scale to fastlane. Depending if real estate is owned or leased, may not be able to afford on my own.

Hearing Aid Clinics - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples and margins, few employees, industry is growing. Cons: most of these may be owner operated; would have to scale to fastlane.

Home Health Care/Home Care Agencies - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples and margins, handful of employees. Cons: Low revenue/employee

Home Health Care Rental - Pros: Decent margins, handful of employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Nothing stands out as too bad.

Home Inspection - Pros: Low number of employees. Cons: Seems to be more of an owner/operator industry, may not generate enough money to run with a manager.

HVAC - Pros: Good revenue/employee, handful of employees. Cons: Not the best margins or EBITDA multiples, would need to scale/franchise to fastlane.

Investment Advice/Financial Planning - Pros: Growing business, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Specialized licensing, low EBITDA multiples.

Janitorial Services - Pros: Decent sales multiples, low number of employees, growing industry. Cons: Low revenue/employee, need to scale/franchise.

Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories - Pros: Great margins, revenue/employee, good EBITDA multiples, growing industry. Cons: Higher amount of employees, may need special licensing/red tape, may not be able to afford on my own.

Medical Billing - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples, good margins, growing industry, handful of employees. Cons: Don't appear to be any significant ones yet.

Medical Spas - Pros: Good EBITDA multiple, growing industry. Cons: Low revenue/employee, large # of employees.

Parking Lots & Garages - Pros: Growing industry, high EBITDA multiples, high margin, can be totally automated. Cons: Modest amount of employees, low revenue/employee (however, as noted, can be automated).

Pest Control - Pros: Handful of employees, good revenue/employee, good margins, growing industry. Cons: Need to scale to fastlane, not the best EBITDA multiples.

Pharmacies & Drugstores - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples, growing industry. Cons: Large number of employees, lower margin, may require special licensing to own

Physical Therapy - Pros: Handful of employees, growing industry, decent margins. Cons: Lower revenue/employee, and EBITDA multiple.

Plumbers - Pros: Good revenue/employee, handful of employees, growing industry. Cons: Mediocre margins and EBITDA multiple. Need to scale to fastlane.

Portable Toilet Companies - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiple, growing industry, handful of employees, decent margins. Cons: Revenue/employee unknown.

Printing - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples. Cons: Negative projected growth, low margin, number of employees.

Property Management Companies - Pros: Low number of employees, good revenue/employee, decent margins and EBITDA multiple, modest growth. Cons: None yet based on spreadsheet.

Records Management - Pros: Growing industry, decent revenue/employee and EBITDA multiple. Cons: High number of employees, mediocre margins.

Remediation Services - Pros: Good revenue/employee, EBITDA multiples, margins, growing industry. Cons: High number of employees.

RV Parks - Pros: High EBITDA multiples and margins. Cons: More data needed, seasonal business.

Schools - Vocational & Training - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples, margins, revenue/employee. Cons: More employees.

Self Storage - Pros: High EBITDA multiples and margins, growing industry, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: May not be able to afford on my own.

Solar Panel Installation - Need more information on this one.

Tire Stores - Pros: Handful of employees, good revenue/employee, growing industry. Cons: low margin, mediocre EBITDA multiples.

Title Abstract & Settlement Offices - Pros: Fewer employees, good revenue/employee, nice margins and EBITDA multiples. Cons: None apparent yet.

Truck Stops - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples. Cons: likely a lot of employees, thin margins

Urgent Care Centers - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples and margins, revenue/employee, growing industry. Cons: Large # of employees, probably can't afford solo. Potential licensing/red tape.

Vending Machine Industry - Pros: Few employees, good revenue/employee, growing industry, decent EBITDA multiples. Cons: Lower margins, have to really scale to fastlane.

Waste/Garbage/Trash Collection - Pros: Good revenue/employee and EBITDA multiple. Cons: Lots of employees.

Doing this little exercise has helped me weed out a lot of these. Next step will be to focus on the industries that have the best prospects and that I could realistically purchase.
 

thechosen1

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View attachment 44467

So I grabbed the relevant data from the 2022 Business Reference Guide and dropped it into a spreadsheet. I then went in and color coded the data into good (green), ok (orange), and bad (red) to see if any really jumped out to me.

On the metrics I selected:

SDE & EBITDA Multiples - Generally speaking, the higher these multiples, the more stable/resilient these companies tend to be. Also, larger companies tend to sell at a higher multiple than smaller ones, again, because they are viewed as less-risky. You can see where businesses like self-storage and parking lots have a higher multiples as they're viewed more as a real estate plays that generate cash flow versus something like a solar panel installation business which might be more cyclical and volatile. In general, I'd prefer to buy a business in an industry that has higher multiples.

Average Profit Margin % - Preference is for higher margin businesses. This gives you more cushion in situations where revenues are decreasing and/or costs are increasing.

Revenue per Employee - This is important to me as I'd prefer a business with just a few employees and therefore, would like to get as much bang for my buck per employee that I can. This can be a bit deceiving for businesses that have high revenues but low margins (like a beer distributorship), but you can see where something requiring specialized skills generates much more revenue per employee than something requiring unskilled labor.

Average Number of Employees - Pretty self explanatory. If I can make the same amount of money with 2 employees versus 20, I'll take that deal all day.

Growth Rates - Give an indication about how the industry has done and is projected to do. Want to make sure I'm getting into something which has a good future versus something that is in decline.

General Thoughts on These Industries:

Ambulatory Surgical Centers - Pros: Sell for good multiples, nice margins, good growth rates. Cons: Requires lots of employees, likely more expensive than what I can afford/finance on my own; would require partners. May require specific licensing/red tape to own/operate.

Auto Repair Shops - Pros: Low number of employees, average multiples, stable industry. Cons: One shop alone isn't Fastlane, would need to scale through expansion or potential franchising.

Diagnostic Imaging Centers - Pros: Good multiples, revenue/employee, and margins. Cons: More employees, may not be able to afford on my own, may require specific licensing/red tape to own/operate.

Distribution/Wholesale – Beer - I've heard these are very difficult to find and likely go for much more than what I can afford.

Dry Cleaners - Pros: Doesn't require a lot of employees. Cons: Just average multiples and margins, negative growth (work from home?), would have to scale or franchise to fastlane.

E-Commerce - This one is so broad, you have to really niche down into your product to get accurate figures. Pros: Few employees, large revenue/employee, very scalable, healthy growth. Cons: very competitive, potentially low/squeezing margins

Environmental Testing - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples, margins, revenue/employee. Cons: larger amount of employees.

Fertility Clinics - Pros: Ok growth rate and revenue/employee. Cons: Low margins, tons of employees, mediocre EBITDA multiples, may not be able to afford on my own, special licensing/red tape.

Food Service Equipment and Supplies - Pros: Good sales multiples, decent margins. Cons: likely requires a lot of employees.

Freight Forwarding - Pros: Good revenue/employee and future growth. Cons: Margins and EBITDA multiples aren't the greatest.

Freight Trucking - Pros: Few employees, decent growth, and revenue/employee. Cons: High employee turnover, margins can squeeze on fuel prices, sales multiples not the greatest.

Funeral Homes/Services - Pros: Good sales multiples, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Not high growth but super stable. May need multiple locations to fastlane. Depending if real estate is owned or leased, may not be able to afford on my own.

Gas Stations w/Convenience Stores/Minimarts - Pros: Good Revenue/Employee, good industry growth. Cons: Low margin, more employees, would need to scale to fastlane. Depending if real estate is owned or leased, may not be able to afford on my own.

Hearing Aid Clinics - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples and margins, few employees, industry is growing. Cons: most of these may be owner operated; would have to scale to fastlane.

Home Health Care/Home Care Agencies - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiples and margins, handful of employees. Cons: Low revenue/employee

Home Health Care Rental - Pros: Decent margins, handful of employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Nothing stands out as too bad.

Home Inspection - Pros: Low number of employees. Cons: Seems to be more of an owner/operator industry, may not generate enough money to run with a manager.

HVAC - Pros: Good revenue/employee, handful of employees. Cons: Not the best margins or EBITDA multiples, would need to scale/franchise to fastlane.

Investment Advice/Financial Planning - Pros: Growing business, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: Specialized licensing, low EBITDA multiples.

Janitorial Services - Pros: Decent sales multiples, low number of employees, growing industry. Cons: Low revenue/employee, need to scale/franchise.

Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories - Pros: Great margins, revenue/employee, good EBITDA multiples, growing industry. Cons: Higher amount of employees, may need special licensing/red tape, may not be able to afford on my own.

Medical Billing - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples, good margins, growing industry, handful of employees. Cons: Don't appear to be any significant ones yet.

Medical Spas - Pros: Good EBITDA multiple, growing industry. Cons: Low revenue/employee, large # of employees.

Parking Lots & Garages - Pros: Growing industry, high EBITDA multiples, high margin, can be totally automated. Cons: Modest amount of employees, low revenue/employee (however, as noted, can be automated).

Pest Control - Pros: Handful of employees, good revenue/employee, good margins, growing industry. Cons: Need to scale to fastlane, not the best EBITDA multiples.

Pharmacies & Drugstores - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples, growing industry. Cons: Large number of employees, lower margin, may require special licensing to own

Physical Therapy - Pros: Handful of employees, growing industry, decent margins. Cons: Lower revenue/employee, and EBITDA multiple.

Plumbers - Pros: Good revenue/employee, handful of employees, growing industry. Cons: Mediocre margins and EBITDA multiple. Need to scale to fastlane.

Portable Toilet Companies - Pros: Decent EBITDA multiple, growing industry, handful of employees, decent margins. Cons: Revenue/employee unknown.

Printing - Pros: Good revenue/employee, decent EBITDA multiples. Cons: Negative projected growth, low margin, number of employees.

Property Management Companies - Pros: Low number of employees, good revenue/employee, decent margins and EBITDA multiple, modest growth. Cons: None yet based on spreadsheet.

Records Management - Pros: Growing industry, decent revenue/employee and EBITDA multiple. Cons: High number of employees, mediocre margins.

Remediation Services - Pros: Good revenue/employee, EBITDA multiples, margins, growing industry. Cons: High number of employees.

RV Parks - Pros: High EBITDA multiples and margins. Cons: More data needed, seasonal business.

Schools - Vocational & Training - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples, margins, revenue/employee. Cons: More employees.

Self Storage - Pros: High EBITDA multiples and margins, growing industry, few employees, good revenue/employee. Cons: May not be able to afford on my own.

Solar Panel Installation - Need more information on this one.

Tire Stores - Pros: Handful of employees, good revenue/employee, growing industry. Cons: low margin, mediocre EBITDA multiples.

Title Abstract & Settlement Offices - Pros: Fewer employees, good revenue/employee, nice margins and EBITDA multiples. Cons: None apparent yet.

Truck Stops - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples. Cons: likely a lot of employees, thin margins

Urgent Care Centers - Pros: Good EBITDA multiples and margins, revenue/employee, growing industry. Cons: Large # of employees, probably can't afford solo. Potential licensing/red tape.

Vending Machine Industry - Pros: Few employees, good revenue/employee, growing industry, decent EBITDA multiples. Cons: Lower margins, have to really scale to fastlane.

Waste/Garbage/Trash Collection - Pros: Good revenue/employee and EBITDA multiple. Cons: Lots of employees.

Doing this little exercise has helped me weed out a lot of these. Next step will be to focus on the industries that have the best prospects and that I could realistically purchase.
amazing analysis. Great job. I noticed most of your cons are not really cons - just that they are too expensive and will require lots of hard work. Awesome!
 
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Bones81

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In other news, I have a job interview tomorrow which I really have mixed feelings about. It's with a big bank in Salt Lake City where my wife and I are planning to relocate to soon. I've loved the freedom I've had over the last 2 years to spend time with family, travel, ski, basically do whatever I want. However, there's a few reasons I've considered going back to the slowlane.

Reason 1: To be able to get a mortgage
The wife and I plan to make SLC our permanent home as we love the mountains and the skiing there. We're in the process of getting a green card for her and she's got a work visa to fly for an airline here and will be in the States permanently in October. Initially, she was planning to take the proceeds from the sale of her place in Hong Kong and buy a place in SLC in an all cash transaction. However, the Hong Kong real estate market sucks at the moment as all the expats are getting out and HK is still closed to mainland China, so there's no one coming in to buy. She's either going to have to take a big haircut on the price or rent it out and wait to sell later.

In the meantime, home prices have gone crazy in SLC since Covid. However, there are signs the market there might finally be slowing down. If the economy does go into a recession that actually hurts, this would be the time to get a place. The issue we're having is that she has a job (although she's about to jump to another airline) but no credit history in the US. I have great credit, but currently no income. So if we want to get a mortgage, I need income and we need to build her credit up just as soon as we can.

Reason 2: Pending Recession
As noted above, I'm of the opinion we may be in for a recession that hurts more than what the markets are currently pricing in. I'm thinking we could see the S&P down to 2800-3200 in the next 6 to 9 months with the labor markets feeling the pain too. All that being said, I want to be leveraging up to purchase a business coming out of a recession, not going into one. It will be challenging enough learning a new industry and managing people without having to do it during rough economic times. Having a job will allow me to build up my acquisition funds while continuing to prospect and network looking for buying opportunities.

Reason 3: Having a Slowlane Job will motivate me to GTFO
In all honesty, I tend to waste time when I have it and I'm not as disciplined as I should be. As far as motivation goes, I've always responded more to the stick than the carrot. I've had plenty of time over the past 2 years to buy a business if I really wanted (e.g. could have tried e-commerce); I've just chosen to do other things. Most of it was chasing my wife around the world, and I don't regret that. However, if I really wanted it, I could have made it happen. I thought I could generate income trading while I've been traveling, but to-date, I've mostly been at breakeven.

The thought of going back in the corporate cage, dealing with office politics, asking for permission for everything, is all pretty nauseating. Having been out of that life for 2.5 years has completely changed my perspective on what life is all about. Just knowing I'm interviewing for a job motivated me to build that spreadsheet and publish the wall of text above. I've also felt very restless lately having watched my net worth take a hit with Covid and not moving sense. At least having a decent job will get it moving up and to the right again.

So all in all, I think it may be the move to make as long as it lights a fire under my a$$ and I have a very specific exit plan.
 

AppMan

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So I took a look through the 2022 Business Reference Guide and these are the initial list of businesses I believe I could be capable of running:

• Ambulatory Surgical Centers
• Appliance Repair
• Auto Repair Shops
• Diagnostic Imaging Centers
• Distribution/Wholesale – Beer
• Dry Cleaners
• E-Commerce
• Environmental Testing
• Fertility Clinics
• Food Service Equipment and Supplies
• Freight Forwarding
• Freight Trucking
• Funeral Homes/Services
• Gas Stations w/Convenience Stores/Minimarts
• Hearing Aid Clinics
• Home Health Care/Home Care Agencies
• Home Health Care Rental
• Home Inspection
• HVAC
• Investment Advice/Financial Planning
• Janitorial Services
• Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
• Medical Billing
• Medical Spas
• Parking Lots & Garages
• Pest Control
• Pharmacies & Drugstores
• Physical Therapy
• Plumbers
• Portable Toilet Companies
• Printing
• Records Management
• Property Management Companies
• Remediation Services
• RV Parks
• Self Storage
• Solar Panel Installation
• Tire Stores
• Title Abstract & Settlement Offices
• Truck Stops
• Urgent Care Centers
• Vending Machine Industry
• Waste/Garbage/Trash Collection

Next I'll start filtering these based on those which are realistic for me to own. A lot of these businesses are medical related. Depending on which state you live in, they may require the owner to be a physician or hold special licenses. Some may be more expensive that what I can afford on my own and would require me find equity partners.

After that, I'll have to start screening them from a CENTS perspective. I'm ok buying something that starts out as a job as I learn the business, but needs to be something I can scale and separate from my time eventually.

Would love to hear thoughts from people who have any experience in these industries.
Are you sure ? some of these businesses require license such as pharmacy and fertility clinics
 

thechosen1

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Are you sure ? some of these businesses require license such as pharmacy and fertility clinics
I asked a pharmacist who was selling his business if you had to be a pharmacist to buy it. He said no, you just need to hire a licensed pharmacist.

In other words money > license.

I believe the same is true for real estate brokerages... Somebody has to be a broker... Doesn't have to be the person who owns the shares of the company.
 
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Bones81

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I asked a pharmacist who was selling his business if you had to be a pharmacist to buy it. He said no, you just need to hire a licensed pharmacist.

In other words money > license.

I believe the same is true for real estate brokerages... Somebody has to be a broker... Doesn't have to be the person who owns the shares of the company.
Yeah I'll have to dig into the individual industries and see what the requirements are. For example, I don't believe I can have ownership in a law firm without being a lawyer, even if all I was doing was providing capital and none of the actual work.
 

Bones81

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I received an offer from the big bank in SLC and accepted it. I'm not super thrilled going back to the slow lane, but it makes sense in the near term. It will get some decent income coming in while the wife and I settle down in SLC. It also takes the pressure off of feeling like I have to buy something now versus being able to have more time to research and finding the best fit for me.

I just have to make sure I don't get too comfortable being back in the slow lane and continue to move ahead on acquiring a business.

I'll continue to update this as I proceed with my research.
 

Bones81

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Picking back up on this now that I'm done with the move and have settled into my new job. Focus will continue to be on which industries make the most sense for my personality and skillset. One that I hadn't considered but could potentially be a could fit would be financing (equipment, accounts receivable, etc.).
 

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Have you considered just starting your own business to learn the ropes of running an actual business. Seems like you’ve done a lot of analysis but this probably could’ve been done within a week especially since you’ve had 2 years off work.
 

Bones81

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Have you considered just starting your own business to learn the ropes of running an actual business. Seems like you’ve done a lot of analysis but this probably could’ve been done within a week especially since you’ve had 2 years off work.
I've built a small content website before but given that most small businesses fail and that I have capital and income, why not skip over that minefield and find something that's already been proven and successful.

While I want to get out of my slowlane job relatively soon, having an income source means I don't have to rush into anything. I can take my time, do the research, and structure a deal properly.
 
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I've built a small content website before but given that most small businesses fail and that I have capital and income, why not skip over that minefield and find something that's already been proven and successful.

While I want to get out of my slowlane job relatively soon, having an income source means I don't have to rush into anything. I can take my time, do the research, and structure a deal properly.
There's a DOL statistic that goes "80% of businesses with employees will still be operating in 5 years." In other words, most of them haven't failed even 5 years after starting. And many of the ones that are no longer operating have been sold, or the owners retired, or the owners moved away and started the same business elsewhere. Whether any of these owners are making enough money to be pleased with the business is something nobody has measured. Interestingly, journalists always mis-quote this statistic. Sometimes they'll even link to the DOL stats, so you can read it for yourself, but their article will say the exact opposite of what's in the statistic. There's also some quoting of other "authorities" like SBA, but if you dig deep enough, there's no study behind them... they're actually quoting the journalists who mis-quoted DOL, and now new journalists are quoting the authority site that quoted other journalists who were wrong.

Of course, there are also informal statistics vomited out into the interwebz by lending companies. Those often have higher failure rates, but that's expected because the businesses they're studying are all in some kind of debt. They also aren't consistent, because the credit risk and fiscal responsibility of the owners counts for a lot, as does the question of whether they are novices purely funded by SBA debt, or they just have a line of credit for seasonal inventory, etc.

A big risk to any business, whether started or bought, is the owner or manager just not operating the business anymore. Some of these don't even qualify as "failure" in my opinion, because no significant effort ever gets put into the business. If you investigate 90% + of business filings, you'll likely find that the owners never started operations, never opened a bank account, never secured a location, and never ran so much as an ad about the business.

I've seen that same pattern in all sorts of things. For example, there are people making 6 and 7 figures turning in bug bounties to software companies... in some cases in their spare time, when they get tired of video games. But I've heard any number of people admonish newcomers to that market that "less than 1% of anyone makes any money." So it sounds like you have to be a basketball star right? In reality, 99% of newcomers hear that you can make money on bug bounties, which is true. So they register on all the bug bountying platforms. Then they take no further action. When the millions do not rain down on them, they simply never log in again, and then they buy lottery tickets no doubt.

That's just one aspect of the nature of people I guess. For the most part we move in little bursts toward an ill-defined goal, but it's only a few who take the effort to figure out what they want and make it happen, by taking steps toward it consistently. Or, maybe worse, we stubbornly follow scripts that are supposed to work, because someone said so, and we never look around, figure it out, and adapt.

I know, long response to a peripheral comment :happy: I hope you make great progress... good luck!
 
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fastlane_dad

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When the millions do not rain down on them, they simply never log in again, and then they buy lottery tickets no doubt.

That's just one aspect of the nature of people I guess. For the most part we move in little bursts toward an ill-defined goal, but it's only a few who take the effort to figure out what they want and make it happen, by taking steps toward it consistently. Or, maybe worse, we stubbornly follow scripts that are supposed to work, because someone said so, and we never look around, figure it out, and adapt.
Well written response. You buried a lot of golden nuggets of wisdom in there.

And you are right those distributions work for any area or subject matter you pick.

Additionally - be very careful about following statistics, and what they mean (or what they mean to you). Most the time they are skewed and written for the benefit of the writers / media / some type of propaganda output.

Even if I'm doing the digging on a certain type of data I'm looking for, I'm still overly skeptical on each side of it - who's doing the data collection, who is reporting this data, and what are some obvious to me biases in some of these replies. I'll be the first to admit I don't believe anything I see.

Almost any statistic or data can be packaged up nicely to make a sale one way or another (I've seen it on the engineering side in my younger days).
 

Bones81

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There's a DOL statistic that goes "80% of businesses with employees will still be operating in 5 years." In other words, most of them haven't failed even 5 years after starting. And many of the ones that are no longer operating have been sold, or the owners retired, or the owners moved away and started the same business elsewhere. Whether any of these owners are making enough money to be pleased with the business is something nobody has measured. Interestingly, journalists always mis-quote this statistic. Sometimes they'll even link to the DOL stats, so you can read it for yourself, but their article will say the exact opposite of what's in the statistic. There's also some quoting of other "authorities" like SBA, but if you dig deep enough, there's no study behind them... they're actually quoting the journalists who mis-quoted DOL, and now new journalists are quoting the authority site that quoted other journalists who were wrong.

Of course, there are also informal statistics vomited out into the interwebz by lending companies. Those often have higher failure rates, but that's expected because the businesses they're studying are all in some kind of debt. They also aren't consistent, because the credit risk and fiscal responsibility of the owners counts for a lot, as does the question of whether they are novices purely funded by SBA debt, or they just have a line of credit for seasonal inventory, etc.

A big risk to any business, whether started or bought, is the owner or manager just not operating the business anymore. Some of these don't even qualify as "failure" in my opinion, because no significant effort ever gets put into the business. If you investigate 90% + of business filings, you'll likely find that the owners never started operations, never opened a bank account, never secured a location, and never ran so much as an ad about the business.

I've seen that same pattern in all sorts of things. For example, there are people making 6 and 7 figures turning in bug bounties to software companies... in some cases in their spare time, when they get tired of video games. But I've heard any number of people admonish newcomers to that market that "less than 1% of anyone makes any money." So it sounds like you have to be a basketball star right? In reality, 99% of newcomers hear that you can make money on bug bounties, which is true. So they register on all the bug bountying platforms. Then they take no further action. When the millions do not rain down on them, they simply never log in again, and then they buy lottery tickets no doubt.

That's just one aspect of the nature of people I guess. For the most part we move in little bursts toward an ill-defined goal, but it's only a few who take the effort to figure out what they want and make it happen, by taking steps toward it consistently. Or, maybe worse, we stubbornly follow scripts that are supposed to work, because someone said so, and we never look around, figure it out, and adapt.

I know, long response to a peripheral comment :happy: I hope you make great progress... good luck!
Thanks Rabby. The comment of little bursts towards an ill-defined goal would be a good description of me.

I know what my goals are; finding the route(s) to get there is of course the challenge. Right now the slowlane job helps achieve the goals of 1) the wife and I buying a house, 2) covering the bills while I figure out the next step, 3) saving capital for the next step, and 4) making me uncomfortable enough to make that next step.

The $64,000 question is "What is the next step". This is what keeps me up at night and this is where most of my effort is going at the moment. While being mindful not to be action faking, I'm spending a lot of time trying to find the thing that makes me sit up and say "That's it, that's what I've been looking for".

I joined David Barnett's business buyer adventure program this weekend. I previously did his business buyer advantage course which was quite useful. The adventure program is for people actively looking for businesses. One of the main reasons I joined is that he has an archive of interviews with various experts (business owners, lawyers, bankers, accountants, etc.) as well as fellow searchers. So hopefully, going through that content will give me some ideas as to the types of industries that might be a good fit for me. There's also working groups etc. where I can bounce ideas off him and other members.

I'm trying to put everything else to the side while I focus on the business buying research as I don't want to be going in a bunch of different directions at once. I still really enjoy trading and all the reading and research that comes with that. I don't think I'll ever give that up, just put it on the backburner for now. I've also thought about building another content/authority site but need to stay focused on just one thing for now.
 
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Rabby

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The $64,000 question is "What is the next step".
For business, I think the $640,000+ answer is "run an experiment in some part of the market every 2 weeks." Or, something close to that. It doesn't have to cost you anything other than effort and brainpower, and it doesn't have to make money. Experiments that show you what doesn't work are practically as valuable as the ones that work. And if you find an experiment that works, you can do it again, or extend it another few weeks and see if it keeps working.

In the words of Saint Marketus:

The market is an ocean. When we work for a business we're towel holders and masseuses for the people swimming across the English Channel. We're snorkel inspectors for the people diving for lobsters. The only way to gain that all-important swimming skill is to get in the water. No amount of folding towels, massaging shoulders, or inspecting snorkels will teach us to swim. We don't need to be dropped in the deepest part of the ocean before we can swim, but we do need to get wet.

I always liked Saint Marketus.
 

Bones81

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Progress update. I joined David C Barnett's Business Buyer Adventure program. I previously did his Business Buyer Advantage program and found it quite useful. He has a ton of interviews with various people (business owners, lawyers, accountants, etc.). There are frequent calls with other members of the group to see how they're doing and what their experiences have been.

After filling out a few questionnaires about my skills and personality, he suggested I might look into service businesses with a decent amount of employees. So I'm now taking a harder look at maid services, carpet cleaners, pressure washing companies etc.

I've also reached out to several lawyers and accountants in the area to being screening them. That'll be one less thing to do once I get to the stage where I'm doing due diligence and submitting LOIs.
 

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