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A Snapshot of Freeport, FL

A Snapshot of Freeport, FL

Freeport, FL has successfully managed a dramatic boom in growth while still retaining a unique small-town character. Many people realize Freeport is only 15 minutes from the Gulf, and that the area has a lot of special waterways to enjoy. Freeport has grown from @1800 residents in 2010 to over 12,700 by the end of 2023. There are also over 14,000 people who live in the city’s utilities service area. It is the fastest-growing city (percentage-wise) in Florida.

Mayor Russ Barley believes in the area and the services provided have grown since he has returned to the area. He is a full-time mayor and is a small business owner. The Planning Department has grown from 1 person to 7 people when he came in as mayor. A new 4,000 SF community center is being built. Infrastructure is expanding as well housing. New businesses continue to move in including hotels. Young people as well as retirees are seeking the benefits of the area!

For more information: https://www.850businessmagazine.com/leaps-and-bounds/

Business Owner, Should You Keep or Sell Your Business?

Business Brokerage Press highlighted a Forbes article titled, “Should I Keep or Sell My Business?” by Bruce Werner. Werner points out that the decision to sell your private company is not like buying or selling a stock. Most business owners may only sell one business in their lifetime. Werner suggests the following key items to evaluate your decision whether to “Keep” or “Sell”.

  1. Financial Security – Does the deal offer permanent financial security?
  2. Industry Trends – Are the industry trends favorable? (Or unfavorable with a decline, new competition or technological disruptions?)
  3. Business Growth -How much can you grow your business? (Is it more profitable than other investments?)
  4. Capital and Talent Requirements – How much capital and talent are needed to achieve the growth goals?
  5. Workload – How long and hard do you want to work? (What health or personal issues are involved?)
  6. Personal/Professional Goals – Do you have other personal or professional goals you wish to achieve?
  7. Risk Tolerance – How much risk should you take?
  8. External Factors – What externalities could hurt the business? (technological and regulatory changes, weather or foreign competition)
  9. Ownership Group Dynamics – Are there issues within your group ownership? (partners, investors, family members)

For more information read Mr. Werner’s article:


Or the recap from Business Brokerage Press: https://businessbrokeragepress.com/2023/12/around-the-web-a-week-in-summary-292/

Business Owners – Why You Need an Exit Strategy

If you are like most business owners, you have been busy starting, growing and improving the company. You have never given any thought to an exit strategy.  After all, you’re trying to maximize your company’s cash flow and you have no intention of selling it anytime soon.

We run into a lot of people who have those exact same thoughts. Many times they will get to this time of year (4th Quarter), and suddenly decide they should sell their business. Owners might jump to the decision to “sell it now” because they are tired, they have lost a key employee, they or one of their employees has a major health problem, someone in their family has a health problem, interest rates are too high, there’s too much political unrest, or they think their business is at the top of its potential. You get the idea, there are so many reasons to sell and most of the time it is a sudden decision. They’ve never had a business valuation done, they may not have built the business to run without them, and they are unrealistic about what it takes to sell their business.

Enter the need for an exit strategy.  A good exit strategy requires time, ideally two or three years before the sale. While that rarely happens, that is the way to maximize the value of your business when it is time to sell. We would be happy to meet with you and discuss this in more detail. Give us a call, so we can work together to get the most money possible when you decide to sell.

Jeff Moody CBI, CM&AP

New SBA Lending Rules in Effect August 1,2023

Steve Mariani of Diamond Financial Group outlined the following SBA changes in his recent newsletter to intermediaries. You can check out this newsletter at https://diamondfs.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/June-Newsletter.pdf

Some of the most positive changes are:

*Sellers can now provide 24 months of seller financing on stand-by instead of the previous stand-by for the entire loan’s life. This stand-by can also be included as a down payment.

*Seller notes can now supply 100% of the down payment vs. 50% previously.

*The seller can now stay on as a “key employee”. This is particularly helpful when a buyer needs a specialty license to operate the business and the seller can provide that service.

*A big change is the removal of the buyer’s personal liquidity rule. This gives more flexibility to high net worth business buyers.

Many New Rules in 2023 and 2024 for Retirement Accounts Passed in the New Spending Bill

The Secure 2.0 Act of 2022 has so many rule changes in retirement accounts that it would be best to talk with your accountant about them. Here are just a few of the new changes. Check out the CNET article below for an overview on the many changes.

As of Jan. 1, 2023, Americans can now wait until age 73 to start receiving  Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their 401(k) and Traditional IRA accounts.

Penalties for failing to take RMDs will be reduced from 50% to 25% (and even 10% if the error is corrected promptly.)

Catch-up contributions for IRAs for older Americans 50 yrs.+ will be indexed to inflation in 2024. People 60-63 in 2025 will be able to contribute up to $10,000/yr. or 50% more (whichever is greater).

In 2027, people who qualify for the Saver’s Credit will be able to receive a federal matching contribution to a retirement account.

There will now be exceptions to early withdrawals from retirement accounts for people younger than 59 ½ yrs. An emergency withdrawal of up to $1,000 can be taken and have 3 years to repay it or not. People that are impacted by federally declared natural disasters will be allowed to withdraw up to $22,000 from their IRAs or employer plans and they will not be penalized. The distribution will be treated as gross income over 3 years. The disasters can date back to Jan. 26, 2021.

There will also be the creation of a national database of retirement plans in the Dept. of Labor to enable people to find lost or misplaced accounts.

Read the following article from Peter Butler: https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/investing/retirement-account-changes-how-new-rules-will-impact-your-ira-and-401k/


Steps and Tips to Maintain Healthy Business Cash Flow During Inflation

Bob House, president of Bizbuysell, has written a great article in Inc. Magazine that addresses these important steps that will help you keep track of your cash flow. Keep a regular eye on your financial statements. Do you have enough cash on hand? Are you improving performance? Are your customers paying their invoices on time? Bob encourages business owners to be creative and innovative.

Step 1: Prepare a Cash Flow Analysis:
       Review Operating activities cash flow
(ARs, payroll, taxes, purchased supplies and asset depreciation)
       Review Financial activities cash flow
(Business loan payments and stocks to shareholders)
       Review Investment activities cash flow
(Includes money spent to buy or sell assets not related
to regular business operations: machinery, business
equipment or real estate)

Bob’s Tips to Raise Cash Flow
       Boost Your Accounts Receivables
(Follow up on unpaid invoices by creating payment plans
for late customers as well as incentives for on-time customers.)
Check Accounts Payable Terms
(Is there a grace period? Might revise terms.)
Reduce Expenses
(Eliminate and renegotiate)
Reassess Inventory
(Can bulk buying help?)
Reassess Prices
(Research your competition. Can you increase margins or
provide unique services?)
Lower Supply Chain Risks
(Diversify suppliers)
Optioning a Small Business Line of Credit

Step 2: Conduct a Profit and Loss Analysis          
       Review Sales over time
(Identify patterns or peaks)
       Review Sources of income
(Profitable sources vs. lower margin ones)
       Review Seasonality patterns
(When is demand high or low?)
       Review Cost of Goods Sold
(Is revenue going up with this?)
Review Net Income and Profit Margin
       (Net Income/Net Revenue x 100=Profit Margin)

Step 3: Know the Value of Your Business
Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries can help you with a Broker Opinion of Value or we can work with a third party independent valuation source. A valuation is not only important for an exit strategy, but it also serves as an important tool when working on growth strategies for your business.

Tisano’s Restaurant Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary Under New Ownership

One year ago Trinity Coleman and her family purchased Tisano’s Restaurant in Bluewater Bay through Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries. It has been a tremendous success for the Coleman family and the Bluewater community.

Trinity grew up in a restaurant family. Her mother and grandfather both owned restaurants in their hometown of Stroud, Oklahoma, and her brother currently owns a restaurant in the same town. She’s always dreamed of owning her own restaurant.

Trinity’s dream was temporarily interrupted when she met her husband, Trey Coleman, who was an Air Force officer. After getting married in 2002, Trinity and Trey started a family and moved around the world with the Air Force. When they moved to Niceville in 2021, Trinity knew it was time to take action on her dream. “I immediately fell in love with Niceville,” said Trinity. Within months she told Trey that this was the place she wanted to start her own restaurant.

After being stymied by the commercial real estate market, Trinity and Trey came to Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries for help. “Instead of starting a new business, we thought we’d see what the team at ECBI had to offer.” Through Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries, Trinity and Trey learned that an Okaloosa County Restaurant was for sale. Once they were qualified as buyers, they learned that the restaurant was Tisano’s, and they decided to take the plunge. “I’ve always known this was Trinity’s dream.  After dragging her around the world with me for the past 22 years chasing my dreams, we decided it was her turn,” said Trey.

One year later the restaurant is flourishing. Not only are sales up significantly, they’ve been able to reinvest in the facility and support the local community. Over the past year they’ve donated profits to local charities including Sharing and Caring, C.A.L.M., and Wreaths Across America.

Trinity says their recipe for success is simple. “We just want to provide a clean restaurant, with awesome food and friendly staff, at a fair price,” said Trinity. When you come visit Tisano’s, Trinity and Trey want you to feel like you’re going to a friend’s house to enjoy a great meal with good company.

If you’ve never been to Tisano’s Restaurant, we highly recommend you give it a try. The house-stuffed mushrooms and the homemade lasagna are outstanding. If you haven’t been to Tisano’s in a while, check it out. You’ll be glad you did!

2022 Top Quality of Life Grades for NW Florida

2 NW Florida hospitals are ranked in the top 100 hospitals in the United States. Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast in Miramar Beach was named as one of the top acute care hospitals. Ascension SHHEC was also named to Newsweek’s list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals in the nation. Twin Cities Hospital in Niceville is recognized for being a top performing small community hospital.

Okaloosa County, Walton County, Santa Rosa County, Bay County, and Escambia County public school districts earned A and B rankings from the Florida Dept. of Education. The grades are based on learning and proficiency gains in core subjects as well as the district’s graduation rate for the 2021-2022 school year.
NW FL also has many great private schools in the area including pre-collegiate and Christian schools. The area also has numerous public and private colleges.

Arts, Culture & Local Activities
The Panhandle has an abundance of cultural activities including the NW Florida Ballet, the NW FL Symphony, museums, zoos, restaurants and endless year-round festivals that appeal to a wide audience. The area also boasts some of the world’s best beaches and fishing. Destin is often referred to as “The Luckiest Fishing Village in the World”.

NW Florida Has It All

NW Florida offers a large customer base, a skilled labor force, transportation accessibility and remarkable financial resources within a beautiful environment.

Florida’s Great Northwest https://www.floridasgreatnorthwest.com/ provides the following stats:

  • 1+ Million Skilled Labor Force within a 1-hour drive time (including 3,000 separating military/yr.)
  • 1 Million NW Florida residents for your Customer Base as well as the large number of tourists that enjoy visiting our great area
  • $1.5 Billion in the Triumph Fund and $85M in the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund for financial resources
  • 3 Commercial Airports, 3 Deepwater Seaports, FL Gulf & Atlantic Railroad and the I-10 connector
  • Beautiful area offering a great quality of life
  • Well known industry leaders including Boeing, Eastern Shipbuilding, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, International Paper, Trane, and Navy Federal to name a few.
  • Fantastic local and regional support


Answers to Key Questions in Business Sale Negotiations

Professional business intermediaries and business brokers have the experience and ability to help negotiate the sale of a business with both the seller and the buyer. In Deal Studio’s article, “Questions to Ask When Negotiating a Deal”, the author discusses 3 key questions that come up in the sale process.

Can You Bring In a Professional? A business intermediary or business broker can keep a neutral perspective and is able to see things from both sides of the negotiations. The intermediary understands all the parts of the deal that need to be resolved and completed for the deal to be finalized.

Can the Buyer and Seller Better Understand One Another? A business intermediary’s objective is for both the seller and the buyer to understand one another. Many times both sides may want certain conditions sought other than financial numbers on a paper. This could be concern about employees’ futures, or the business’ reputation & history vs. future plans to name a few.

Can Both Parties Split the Difference? Sometimes a buyer and a seller cannot come together on a deal number. One plan used in negotiation is to have them split the difference. This can work to show good will and that the parties are flexible and are willing to keep discussions open.