Term Loans for a Business Acquisition

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Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A business owner completes paperwork for a term loan.

When it comes to funding a small business acquisition, loans are one of the most common sources of capital. Many commercial and community banks offer three kinds of loans you might consider for your acquisition. These are term loans, asset-backed loans, and SBA 7(a) business loans. This article focuses on one of these kinds of loans: a business term loan.


What is a business term loan?

A traditional term loan is an arrangement you make with a lender to borrow a specified amount of money for a specific purpose for a set period of time. Your lender will set terms, and you will agree to repay the loan with fixed, equal payments and a preset rate of interest.

Term loans generally have favorable terms and long repayment schedules (up to 10 years), making them a great option for owners looking to cover part of their business acquisition costs. They’re notoriously difficult to qualify for, but owners of businesses with an established credit history may find these loans a bit easier to attain. The reason: Banks will consider the combined earning power of the business being acquired and the buyer’s current business entity when making a lending decision.

If you’re unable to meet the qualifications of a traditional term loan, consider online term loans, which often have less stringent credit score and credit history requirements.


Keep in mind that online term loans usually have less favorable terms than loans offered by conventional lenders. These lenders often quote higher interest rates and offer significantly shorter repayment terms than traditional term loan lenders.

What qualifications will I need to meet?

To qualify for a business term loan, you’ll need:

  • A strong personal credit score (generally 700 or higher)
  • A source of funding to cover a down payment, which may be up to 30% of your capital requirements
  • Verifiable management and industry experience


If you already own a business—and that business will play a role in the acquisition of your new business—you’ll need to demonstrate a few more qualifications:

  • A favorable business credit score
  • Good credit history
  • Positive cash flow that signifies your business’s ability to support the debt it’ll take on


How do I apply for a business term loan?

Determine which commercial banks, community banks, and credit unions in your area offer term loans for business acquisition. Then, ask about their rates and qualifications. If you qualify and are comfortable with the terms and interest rate a lender offers, you might choose to begin the application process.

Start by gathering the documents they request. Often, these will include:

  • Three years of personal bank statements, tax returns, and financial statements
  • Your business plan



  • A statement that explains your management and industry experience
  • Verification of your ability to make a down payment
  • A copy of the business sale contract that proves your intention to acquire the business you’re financing
  • A third-party valuation of the business
  • Cash flow projections
  • Projected profits or losses
  • Balance sheet information for the business you are buying
  • Profit and loss statements for the business you are buying
  • A schedule of the term debt you—not the previous owner—have taken on for the business
  • A third-party valuation of the collateral you plan to put up or an audited copy of your balance sheet


Will I need to provide any other documentation?

It’s possible.

If your current business will be involved in the acquisition, you may need to provide up to three years of business tax returns, bank statements, and financial statements and your business’s current debt schedule and repayment priorities.

And, if your loan request includes construction or leaseholder improvements, you might need to provide a construction contract, a tax appraisal, and a third-party appraisal of the land or current property.


Who can help me with these requirements?

You’ll need an accountant and a valuation specialist to fulfill some of these requirements. Check out some of our favorite accounting firms here:


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You can also connect with our network of valuation specialists here:


What should I do if my application is rejected?

Listen to your lending officer’s explanation. Then, ask for feedback on what you can do to position your request more favorably in the future.

Your lender may recommend simple tweaks to your business plan or a boost to your credit score to increase your odds of approval. Or, they may point to larger issues that you’ll need to resolve before reapplying for funding. You can make the necessary adjustments and submit a new application, or you can choose to apply with other traditional lenders or online term loan lenders who may be more lenient in their requirements.


Are term loans right for my business?

Like other forms of financing, term loans have advantages and disadvantages that you should consider carefully:


(+) A term loan may help you attain all the capital you need in a single transaction.


(+) Term loans allow you to spread the cost of your acquisition over a longer period of time than you can through many other financing options.


(+) Term loans can help you build credit for your business, which is essential for attaining better financing options for future capital needs.





(-) A term loan can be difficult to attain.


(-) The loan process can be lengthy.


(-) Lenders may require collateral to secure your loan, which makes the downside of default even greater.



What’s next?

After determining how you’ll finance your acquisition, you’ll have completed the steps that lead to closing on your new business. Next, read this guide for advice on working through the final part of the acquisition process.



Looking for support through the acquisition process? We can help. Log into your owner’s portal for articles and advice that’ll set you up for success.

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