Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory

A Neumann & Associates, LLC

January 7, 2010

Start-Ups Will Keep Struggling in 2010

By Joseph Eneldas


The economic downturn has dimmed many entrepreneurs’ hopes of opening a small business, as sources of funding have dwindled or dried up completely. And while many hope 2010 will be better, the outlook continues to be bleak.

The majority of entrepreneurs use personal savings or contributions from family or friends to fund their ventures, but personal wealth, often connected to the value of stock portfolios or homes, hasn’t bounced back.

Meanwhile, banks—under scrutiny by regulators—are continuing to strengthen capital reserves, making it difficult even for entrepreneurs with track records and years of experience to qualify for loans. And professional investors, stung by the financial meltdown, are meting out fewer capital infusions.

Money Supply is MIA

Kenneth MacKinnon moved to Los Angeles over two years ago with plans to start a tapas wine bar, but despite a high credit rating and collateral, including a home, the Scotland native says he has been unable to secure the $300,000 he needs from banks or private investors.

“The money supply has been shut off,” says Mr. MacKinnon, who had run a successful seafood eatery for 15 years in the U.K. that he sold in 2007 before moving to the U.S.
Funding from angel investors, or high-net-worth individuals who provide capital to young companies, fell 30% to $9.1 billion in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier. That figure is expected to remain flat for 2010, according to Jeffrey Sohl, director of University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research, which tracks the data.

Deals are Up… Dollars are Down

What is encouraging, Mr. Sohl says, is the number of deals has ticked up slightly. While angels are investing less—$370,000 per deal in 2009, versus $530,000 in 2008—about 24,500 ventures received funding during the first half of 2009, compared with 23,100 the year earlier.

“They are still doing the deals, but the deals are much cheaper now,” he says.

Venture capitalists, too, are continuing to invest, but typically in later-stage companies already in their portfolios rather than new prospects, says Mr. Sohl. The average deal size declined to $5.7 million in the first half of 2009, compared with $7.4 million to $7.8 million between 2005 and 2008.

Small Improvements

As for Small Business Administration-guaranteed loans or conventional bank loans, the best thing about 2010 is that it won’t be 2009, says Bob Coleman, publisher of “The Coleman Report,” a La Canada, Calif., trade publication for SBA lenders. “We’re better off than where we were 12 months ago, but we are nowhere near where we were two years ago,” he says.

The SBA approved less than 45,000 loans for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, down 36% from a year earlier. Total volume for its flagship 7(a) loan was $9.3 billion, off year-ago levels by $3.4 billion.

Stimulus-related measures, however, contributed to an uptick in SBA lending in recent months. Mr. Coleman expects that trend to continue for 2010.

But SBA loans make up only about 1% of overall small-business lending, Mr. Coleman estimates. That figure may grow to 5% to 10% in 2010 as the government provides more incentives for financial institutions, especially community banks, to provide financing to small businesses, he says.

Still, getting the money may be a challenge. “Whether it’s an SBA loan or a conventional loan, you really have to be perceived as the ‘cream,’” Mr. Coleman says. Start-up entrepreneurs in particular will have to show they have a significant amount of their own savings in the venture, plus solid cash-flow projections, he says.

Maria Coyne, executive vice president and head of SBA lending at KeyBank in Clevand, agrees that start-up entrepreneurs will have to have a solid plan and assets. “They’ve got to get a good hunk of skin in the game, too,” she says.

Average Cost of Starting a Business

Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., estimates that entrepreneurs need on average $65,000 to start a business, two-thirds of which comes from personal savings and the rest from “informal” investors such as relatives and friends.

Although the stock market is starting to recover, housing values remain weak. Two years ago, relatives were more willing to invest because “they might have seen they had a couple hundred thousand dollars in equity in their house,” says Babson entrepreneurship professor Andrew Zacharakis. “Today, that’s a scarier proposition.”

Franchiser Want More Money Down

Lack of access to capital will also likely hamper entrepreneurs interested in buying a franchise, says Matt Shay, president of the International Franchise Association in Washington. The group estimates 2% growth in franchises for 2010 to over 901,000 establishments. That’s better than zero growth in 2009, but off the average 5.6% growth per year from 2001 to 2005.

In the past, potential franchisees could finance a purchase if they could put 15% to 20% down. Now, banks require large down payments of between 40% and 50%, Mr. Shay says.
Babson’s Prof. Zacharakis says he’s seeing companies doing more with less, including asking friends and family to work for free. “Instead of capital infusions, there might be a lot more exchanges of services or trading favors,” he says.

Outlook Remains Cautious

In Los Angeles, Mr. MacKinnon says he’s considering taking on partners so he can open his long-planned bar. Instead of starting from scratch, he might invest in a failed restaurant.

University of New Hampshire’s Mr. Sohl says he believes “we’re done with the downdraft,” though he remains cautious for 2010. “People aren’t ready to bet the farm,” he says.
Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, Colleen DeBaise , January 5, 2010

About A Neumann & Associates, LLC

A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional mergers & acquisitions and business brokerage firm having assisted business owners and buyers in the business valuation and business transfer process through its affiliations for the past 30 years. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, the company has senior trusted professionals with a deep knowledge based in multiple field offices along the East Coast and has performed hundreds of business valuations in its history. The firm’s competitive transaction fees are based on successfully completing transactions. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Any questions? Please contact us at 732-872-6777
Call Now

Client Testimonials

“Your vetting is simply outstanding, among the best I've seen from a broker.”

Eric H., Investor

“I recently contacted A. Neumann and Associates about getting a valuation of my business done. I spoke with Marc, who explained the process in detail. After meeting with Marc in order to get a clear understanding of my business, and what I was hoping to accomplish. His patience in answering all my questions and his knowledge of the proper way to market my business gave me great confidence that this is the firm I will be using to sell my business for max value. Working with Marc at A Neumann & Associates was very easy and professional. I did not know all that was going to be involved in selling my business but they helped me through the process. What I thought was going to be a just another one of those pushy sales companies was just the opposite. Polite, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to talk to and deal with. I highly recommend this firm to anybody who wants to sell now or down the road. Marc not only knows his stuff, but actually is a real nice guy.”

Double Diamond

“Used A Neumann & Associates to sale my business. could not imagine having done it with out the patience and experience Gary provided. Thanks Gary,”

Dennis Frazier

“Working with Marc and his company was a pleasure. What I thought was going to be a just another one of those pushy sales companies was just the opposite. Polite, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to talk to and deal with. Marc handled most of the interaction and he has one of the greatest demeanors. Again, it was a pleasure working with him and his firm.”

Douglas DiCeglio

“I recently completed an acquisition using A Neumann & Associates. Tony Valentino was very helpful and accessible during the entire process. They do a thorough job vetting both parties and got us to the finish line.”

Srini Mudambi

“Claus out of Florida helped us with the sale of our business. We had never done anything like this and him and his team walked us through the process from start to finish. We had some challenges through the process and Claus continued to show up even in the difficult conversations.”

Colby Harris, Co-Owner, Del Mar Designs

“Claus Madsen thoroughly helped us with selling our company. From the 1st introductory meeting explaining to us what was possible, to providing us with resources to assist with the sale. Claus was invaluable throughout the whole sales process. Claus was with us every step of the journey and always made himself available for any questions or issues that came up along the way. If you are interested in selling your business, I encourage you to reach out to Claus and the ANA team so that they can let you know what’s achievable. These guys will make it happen!”

Ron Harris, Co-Owner and Vice President, Del Mar Designs

“A Neumann & Associates is the only business broker I would use or consult with. They have assisted with 3 business sales over the past 15 years with me. They are honest and sincere and have always performed better than my expectations. They are the only one i would use for the sales of my businesses.”

James Belanger, Business Owner

“I wanted to take a second to commend the exemplary customer service from both you [Karin Neumann] and Mr. Valentino. It’s both a rarity in the industry, and very much appreciated.”

Andrew G., Investor

“We worked with Neumann & Associates to investigate the purchase of a research company in 2010 and found Achim to be capable, forthright and realistic. His depth of experience enabled us to fully understand our options, offering creative options that might enable the acquisition. While we didn’t acquire that particular company at that time, we know exactly who to call whenever we’re looking to buy or sell a business.”

Daniel Coates, Buyer
view all testimonials

Contact A Neumann & Associates, LLC

If you are considering selling your business, please contact us to learn more about our comprehensive service spectrum. Our experienced professionals will answer all your questions about selling a privately held business in complete confidentiality. Please fill out our contact form, or call us at 732-872-6777. We will contact you directly and will never identify ourselves to your employees.

call us now
Contact Us for a Free, Confidential Consultation

Experienced M&A Advisors available

Full Name
Email Address
Phone Number