Florida Small Businesses

Looking for help getting a small business loan in Florida? Get the most important resources

Small Business Loans in Florida

Do you need a loan to purchase a small business? Or do you need additional funds to grow your existing business? No matter why you need a small business loan, there are resources available in Florida. There are many ways to obtain loans, from private lending institutions to government agencies. Whether you need short term funding or want to buy a business, let’s cover some options for small business loans.

Government Agencies

The US Small Business Administration offers many programs to small business owners—for loans, financing and bonds. They can help you get a third party lender, guarantee a bond, or help you locate venture capital. In 2013, the SBA delivered more than $30 billion in loan guarantees. The Florida SBA not only provides Florida small business loans, but it also works to provide counseling, capital, contracting, disaster assistance, and advocacy. If you are in need of financial assistance for your business, you can find the Florida SBA here.

Private Lenders

Banks may be able to offer you a line of credit or a small business loan—if you do personal banking at a Florida bank, start there; you may be able to get a great interest rate since they are familiar with your financial history. But, of course, it is also a good idea to check rates with competitors. Most banks have a small business specialist, so start there. It’s important to note that getting a loan to start a business from scratch can prove difficult. They are normally more apt to loan money for purchasing a business that has proven successful. Having the expertise of a qualified business broker, like Emerald Coast Business Brokers, on your side can increase your chances of qualifying a small business.

Outside Investors

Outside investors would be anyone with the means and money to invest in your business. An investor differs from a partner because an investor gives you money in the hopes that you will use it to grow your business and repay them a percentage where a partner takes an interest in the day-to-day running of your business. An investor is looking for you to work to repay them, while a partner is willing to work with you. Money from an outside investor is essentially a private loan. Finding outside investors may be difficult, but if you network and talk with your contacts, you may find someone interested in providing investment funds to your small business—this is where a Business Broker can come in handy.

Additional Resources

For more resources for Florida small business loans, check out these helpful links:

Enterprise Florida

Florida Economic Information

Small Business Resources from the SBA

Florida Department of Financial Services

How Much is My Business Worth?

At Emerald Coast Business Brokers, we know how to value a business, and we can help you determine how much your business is worth!

How Much is my Business Worth?

Many business owners ask this question. One way to determine how much your business is worth is to look at the basic cash flow of the company.  Here are four easy steps to estimate how much your business is  worth using cash flow:

Step 1: Pull out your paperwork and files and calculate the annual earnings before any taxes or depreciation.

Step 2: Factor in any compensation that you offer your employees ranging from bonuses or amenities for the workplace.

Step 3: Determine how the company has generated profit compared to the cost of running the business, i.e. expenses.

Step 4: Once you determine the percent of earnings for a given year, anticipate the same percentage growth over a span of 5 to 10 years. This is a good indicator of how the business will grow in future years.

Emerald Coast Brokers can help you determine how much your business is worth!

These four steps can give you a ballpark estimate, but there are many factors that go into a full evaluation of your business worth.  This is where EC Brokers can help you determine the full value of your business.  Simply fill out the form on the right and we can help you determine how much your business is worth.


Destin Beach Weddings

Planning a Destin beach wedding? Check out this post for resources and information.

Planning a Destin Beach Wedding

The beautiful beaches of Destin make a gorgeous backdrop for a wedding. Whether you’re fantasizing of an amazing destination wedding or a small, intimate ceremony, Destin is full of business that want to help you plan your Destin beach wedding. With emerald waters, white-sand beaches and visitor-friendly atmosphere, this coastal city is perfect for your special day. You can have your wedding, reception, and even your honeymoon in Destin!

What type of wedding do you want?

When it comes to weddings in Destin, the options are endless. You can throw a formal affair in a ballroom, have a church ceremony, or enjoy a beachfront service under a canopy. Do you want ten people there or two hundred? A beachside bonfire for your reception or a gourmet seafood meal? No matter your tastes or desires, you can create the perfect day here in Destin.

How much work do you want to do?

If your ideal beach wedding is one where you show up and get married, but are not involved in any of the planning, all-inclusive wedding planners are available that will cover all of the details. Or, if you prefer a little more involvement in the planning, you can find vendors for everything you need, like ceremony venues, reception venues, caterers, bakeries, photographers, DJs, florists and more. Some planners to consider are:

Serene Occasions

Ocean Breeze Weddings
The Destin Wedding Company
Island Sands Beach Weddings

Elegant Beginnings

Forever I Do Weddings & Events

Samantha Jackson Weddings

Princess Wedding Co.

It’s A Shore Thing

Yours Truly Weddings

CGS Weddings & Events

The Wedding Shop

How do I get a marriage license in Destin?

In Florida, marriage licenses are issued by a county court judge or clerk of the circuit court. You can apply for the license at any county clerk’s office and you can get married in any county regardless of the county you obtained your license. There is no residency or citizenship requirement to apply for a marriage license in Florida.

To get your marriage license, both the prospective bride and groom need to visit the circuit court office in person with picture IDs (driver’s license, state ID card, valid passport), and Social Security numbers; a blood test is no longer required. In most counties you can save time by completing the marriage application online. The cost for a marriage license is $93.50, but that fee can be reduced by up to $32.50 if you complete a licensed Florida pre-marital course. The pre-marital course does not apply to non-Florida residents.

Once issued, your marriage license is valid for 60 days, but, if you have not completed the approved pre-marital course there is a 3-day waiting period before you can get married (again, this does not apply to non-Florida residents). Once the ceremony is performed the license should be returned to the County Marriage License Bureau.

Where can I hold my beachfront wedding in Destin?

While all Destin beaches would make beautiful backdrops for your wedding, some may require permissions or fees for your event. Your wedding planner can help you find the perfect location for your dream wedding!

I want a big wedding. What venues can accommodate that?

There are actually numerous areas around Destin that can handle groups over 50, but be aware that a group that size requires a special permit and a fee to Okaloosa County. If you plan on having over 100 guests, security must be provided.

Where do I start?

If you’ve been to a Destin beach wedding before, talk to your friends for recommendations. There are so many wedding planners and wedding vendors in the area, it can be overwhelming. However, if you’re starting from scratch, check out the listings on Wedding Wire to get connected to a wedding planner.

Many of our business owners are involved in the wedding industry, from hotels to restaurants and even hair salons. Destin has many businesses and professionals who can help make your wedding day perfect.

Congratulations on your engagement and good luck wedding planning!


Emerald Coast Association of Realtors

Find out more about the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors here. Learn how to find a realtor, how to become a part of the association, and more!

Everything You Need to Know about the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors®

In North Florida, there is a great group of real estate professionals who have come together to serve each other and their clients. The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors® (ECAR) is made up of more than 2400 Realtor members in the area. This organization exists to provide leadership opportunities and provide expert services to their customers and clients.

How do I become a member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors?

First of all, in order to call yourself a Realtor®, you must belong to the National Association of Realtors®, and in order to belong to the National Association of Realtors®, you must belong to both the Florida Realtors® association and a local association—the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors is Northwest Florida’s local association. The ECAR® is made up of members and affiliate members. To join the Association, you will be required complete the application process, pay a non-refundable application fee of $250.00 and pay the yearly dues (which will be returned in the event of non-election). Read more about becoming a member here.

What can I expect from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors?

If you look at their calendar, you’ll see that the association stays very busy with committee meetings, trainings, tours of homes and more. Programs include continuing education classes to help licensees keep their licenses with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation current. There are also online classes covering topics about ethics, fair housing, short sale clients, and more.

What benefits exist for members?

Members can not only take advantage of classes, training, and networking opportunities, but they are also introduced to products, services, and discounts. They have benefits to offer members that help you save, help you sell more, and help you learn. I’m looking for a realtor in the Emerald Coast area- how do I find a member of the association? ECAR offers a Find a Realtor function where you can locate a Realtor® in the Emerald Coast. If you don’t know where to start, you can simply select “Show all Realtors” to see those who are members of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.

For more information…

For more information about the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, check out their website and Facebook page.

Financing a Business

Considering business ownership? The experts at Emerald Coast Business Brokers discuss what to expect when it comes to financing an existing business.

Financing an Existing Business vs. a Start-Up

If you’re interested in business ownership, as you embark on the process of reading and researching, you will likely find a significant number of experts who report that financing an existing business is less of a “gamble” than financing a start-up. That is, if the existing business is successful. Lenders are much more likely to fund an existing business that is profitable, has solid assets, a customer base that produces immediate results (i.e. sales), and potential for future growth.

An experienced Business Broker can help you identify successful businesses that fall into these categories. They can also help you negotiate a price that is mutually beneficial to the buyer and seller, and assist in finding financing for your business.

Where do I start when it Comes to Financing a Business?

Before you get too serious about purchasing a business, it’s important to start by ensuring that you would have financing available for a purchase should you find a business that lenders deem viable. Once you have done that, and your Business Broker has found a business that you are interested in purchasing, the most important step is Due Diligence. From a lender’s perspective, it is necessary that the business be in good-standing, and that it not be overvalued. Due Diligence is careful investigation and analysis of the business, including analyzing financial statements, physical properties, assets, relationships between the business and its customers, vendors, key suppliers, competitors, etc. Through this process you will scrutinize the assets and liabilities of the business. Though lenders will do their own due diligence, this is all information they will use to determine whether they will provide financing. Less risk = more likely to get financing. Go to potential lenders with a robust business plan that shows how you plan to grow the business (your Business Broker can help with this).

What type of assistance is available

  • Once you’ve done due diligence and you are ready to move forward with financing the business, the first place to look is your personal bank. Oftentimes a financial institution that is familiar with you will offer friendly terms and a lower interest rate. But don’t stop there. It is also wise to check with competing banks to determine if you can get lower rates or better terms.

  • Private lender. Going this route typically leads to a higher interest rate, but the loan process is normally faster and easier. This is sometimes a good option if you need a quick sale.

  • Investors. Create a good business plan that outlines how investors can earn their money back, plus some, and you’ll often be able to get investor financing.

  • Owner finance. This type of financing may cost more or have a shorter amortization schedule, but it is a good option if you have trouble qualifying for a bank loan. According to BizSale, more than 80 percent of business sales include some sort of seller financing.

What about the US Small Business Administration?

First, let me explain what the US Small Business Administration is. This federal agency was created by Congress in 1953 to help guarantee loans to small and mid-sized businesses. The SBA doesn’t make loans, but it establishes guidelines for loans that it will guarantee. By guaranteeing that the loans lending institutions make to small businesses will be repaid, the federal government reduces some of the risk to financial institutions so that they are more likely to consider lending to small businesses. Inc. Magazine offers a very helpful (but long) comprehensive guide on SBA loans that is worth the read if this is something you are considering.

As you can see, the key to obtaining financing for an existing business is being prepared. Though it can be an overwhelming undertaking, a professional business broker can lead you through the process with ease.


North Florida Small Business Resources

If you are a small business owner in North Florida, don’t miss these 5 valuable resources!

5 Small Business Resources in North Florida

Did you know that over 90 percent of the businesses in the United States are considered small? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state of Florida has over 395,462 small businesses–and that number grows daily. North Florida is no exception; the area is booming with a wide variety of small business owners who are working hard to grow existing businesses and start new ones. While business ownership is a rewarding endeavor, it can also be very challenging. If you’re a new small business owner, or an existing business owner looking to grow your business, there are resources available that are designed to promote your success.

The U.S. Small Business Administration – North Florida District Office

The SBA is a great source of state and local resources for the business owner. The North Florida SBA serves to offer outreach and special initiatives to aid those who own businesses in the area. Through offering financial assistance, free counseling, loan programs, workshops, events, etc., they work to help both new and existing businesses succeed. The North Florida SBA website can help you connect with mentors, provide you with a calendar of events, and give you links to helpful government resources. Don’t miss the Small Business Resource guide (available for download here) that provides information about online training, small business capital, business insurance, and other helpful topics.

America’s Small Business Development Center – Florida

The SBDC was created by Congress in 1980 to provide management assistance. The SBDC at the University of North Florida was actually created in 1976, making it one of the longest running SBDC programs in the country. The SBDC provides programs with advice, training, and information along with workshops covering everything from startup basics, marketing, accounting, financing, and taxes. It’s a great resource for those thinking of buying a business, along with those who already own a business. The University of North Florida Small Business Development Center serves 18 counties and has offices in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Ocala.

Jacksonville Women’s Business Center

The JWBC’s mission is to “advance the success of women entrepreneurs at every stage of business development.” They offer services and programs that provide education and information to small business owners in the North Florida area to help them be successful. The JWBC serves Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties, and is located in Jacksonville.

Florida State University – The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in North Florida

Offering education and expertise for current and aspiring business owners, the Jim Moran Institute center serves more than 200 community businesses each year. Business owners can receive one-on-one consulting and workshops from the center. One unique service is entrepreneurship training and planning from veterans as well. Be sure and check out the Small Business Executive Program here for small business owners and presidents. It’s a six-month program open to 25 non-competing applicants that will help you work on your business.

North Central Florida SCORE

SCORE is a nonprofit that helps small businesses get off the ground and reach their goals. Providing education and mentorship, they deliver their services in the North Florida area predominantly through the North Central Florida office, but they also have a branch in Lake City/Suwannee Valley. SCORE offers free and confidential business counseling, workshops (some require a fee), and mentorship about accounting, finances, marketing, and business planning. Their mentors cover many different industries from human resources, sales, manufacturing, food service, and more.

Reach Out to These North Florida Small Business Resources

Operating a business can be challenging; managing employees, working toward goals, marketing the business, and keeping proper books is time consuming. Small business owners have to do it all. We hope these resources help in your day-to-day business operations.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a business in the Emerald Coast area, a qualified professional from Emerald Coast Business Brokers is prepared to help. Contact us today.


Succession Planning

When buying and selling a business, you must have a succession plan in place for a smooth transition. Find out what succession planning is, and how to prepare your own plan.

Plan for Progression

Whether you’re selling a business, retiring, or buying a business, it’s important to think through the succession planning process. This helps ensure you have a map in place for the progression of your business. Companies may wrestle with ways to train and develop employees for new roles, but making a plan for the future is especially critical during business acquisition. Succession planning will make sure you have the right people ready to take on new roles after you buy or sell your business.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is the process of finding people to fill leadership roles within the company as organizational changes occur. It includes identifying existing employees who can take leadership roles, along with figuring out gaps where training or new hires may be necessary.

How does succession planning apply when buying and selling a business?

As you complete business acquisitions, structural changes are bound to occur. If you buy a business, perhaps the previous business owner acted as general manager. But after buying the business, you’d like to take more of a hands-off role, so you need a plan for who will act as general manager. Creating that plan is succession planning. Part of the transition process when buying the business is identifying current employees who might be ready to fill new roles. If you’re selling your business, you can help the new business owner with succession planning since you will know current employees’ strengths and weaknesses.

Steps of Succession Planning

When you’re creating a succession plan, you’ll want to do follow a few key steps.

• Identify the roles that need to be filled. Take a look at existing roles and identify where gaps may occur.

• Think of roles that need to be created. Consider where additional positions would benefit the business structure.

• Define the ideal candidate for each position. Think through the skills necessary for each available position.

• Examine your current pool of employees. Attempt to match their skills with the open positions you currently have or those new positions you intend on creating.

• Prepare training programs and create development plans to prepare employees for new roles. Work on areas of weakness and develop their strengths.

• Most importantly, keep your plan simple. The plan doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to have a plan in place so you understand the organizational changes that will occur when buying and selling a business.

• Be open with employees. Don’t make promises; be realistic. If you’re buying a hotel, you might be considering your front desk manager for your general manager. Talk with your general manager about development opportunities and realistic expectations for career growth. If the growth doesn’t occur within your current employees, be willing to hire new ones.

At the heart of succession planning is employee training, growth, and retention. You want your current employees to become better for your business, even if that means training for a new role.

Talk with the Experts

Just like you would use experts when buying a business or selling a business, you might need to speak with succession planning experts if you’re acquiring a larger company that requires an in-depth plan. Speak with other businesses in your area to find out who they trust with their succession planning

If you’re interested in buying or selling a business, contact the experts at Emerald Coast Business Brokers to locate pre-screened businesses that are ready to purchase. They can help you from start to finish, including creating a succession plan in conjunction with the current business owners.

The Benefits of Hiring a Broker When Selling a Business

Find out the 10 biggest benefits of hiring a broker when selling a business.

10 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Broker When Selling Your Business

Transferring ownership of a business is complicated. If you go it alone, you can expect to spend lots of time and energy on the process. Or you can hire a business broker who will work alongside you to make sure the entire experience is well-executed. While every broker offers slightly different services, at Emerald Coast Business Brokers we work to make the business sale easy. Here are 10 benefits of hiring a broker when selling a business.

You Should Hire a Business Broker When Selling a Business Because…

1. Brokers know the local market. Business brokers assist in numerous business sales, typically in one particular area. A broker will help you with your valuation so that you’re competitive, and they will position your business as unique in the local market.

2. Brokers find the right buyer. One of the most important aspects of selling a business involves finding someone who wants to buy it. A broker is familiar with local business owners who may be interested in diversifying by adding your business. They also work to promote your business to those who are best suited to run a business like yours.

3. Brokers can devote their time to selling your business. If you try to sell your business on your own, you’ll be working to sell it while running your business. Hiring a business broker allows you to devote the proper amount of time to the business sale.

4. Brokers offer a database of many businesses. These databases draw potential buyers, exposing your business to a wider range of buyers than you could on your own.

5. Brokers prescreen buyers. Through a series of interviews and screenings, a broker will help ensure that you don’t waste your time with unqualified buyers. A broker will interview a buyer to make sure funding is available and that their interests align with your business.

6. Brokers maintain confidentiality. During a business sale, a broker will provide a confidentiality agreement to protect your business. In most cases, you won’t want employees, customers, suppliers, or vendors knowing about the sale before the time is right. Confidentiality ensures that your day-to-day operations are not affected by listing for your business for sale.

7. Brokers work as the buffer during negotiations. As you go back and forth on terms with the buyer, a broker will be your buffer. You’ll likely have to work with the buyer after the sale for a period of training, so you’ll want to keep that relationship intact and let your broker do the negotiating.

8. Brokers help with paperwork. The paperwork can be overwhelming during a business sale. A broker will work to make sure the right paperwork is completed on time.

9. Brokers will get you the most profitable price. Along with properly valuing your business, a broker will make sure you get the most profitable selling price by working with qualified interested buyers and making the most of the negotiations.

10. Brokers coordinate closing requirements. During a business sale, there are many interested parties, from attorneys, title companies, lenders, insurance companies, and more. A broker will work to coordinate this process. So there you have it! A whopping 10 reasons why you should hire a broker when selling a business. So are you ready to contact one of our experienced advisors? If you’re ready to sell your business, let’s set up a confidential consultation today! Contact the Emerald Coast Team to find you the perfect buyer for your business.

The Emerald Coast

Find out all you need to know about Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Florida’s Emerald Coast

Southern Living magazine has named the Emerald Coast the “Best Beach in the South” for the past 14 years, and if you’ve ever visited the area, you know exactly why. It’s a great place to live, work, and vacation. But what exactly is the Emerald Coast?

It’s the 100 mile stretch of gorgeous beach stretching from Pensacola Beach to Panama City Beach is called. The Emerald Coast includes popular vacation locations like Gulf Breeze, Navarre Beach, Fort walton Beach, Seaside, Seacrest Beach, Perdido Key, Destin, and Santa Rosa Beach. It’s the place we call home, and we would love to tell you more about what makes the Emerald Coast such an amazing local.

Why is it called the Emerald Coast?

The area has had a few different names over the years: The Playground of the Gulf Coast, the Miracle Strip. But in 1983 a Fort Walton Beach High School student named Andrew Dier won a contest for the new slogan (winning $50). And, as you can guess, the name comes from the beautiful clear emerald green waters along the coast.

Why do people visit the Emerald Coast?

One look at the coastal towns located along the Emerald Coast and you’ll know exactly why the area is such a sought after vacation location. The beaches are the biggest draw to the area. Sugar-white sand and emerald-green waters draw people who enjoy things like snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, and dolphin watching. Then, there are those who like to simply relax on the beach and watch the waves roll in. The towns along the coast offer much when it comes to shopping, dining, golf courses, nightlife and attractions like zoos, aquariums, museums, water parks, and more.

There are also world class events in the area such as parades, food festivals, concerts, performances, or just about anything you could imagine! When you consider it’s a 100 mile stretch of beach with so many unique towns, it’s easy to see that the Emerald Coast has something for everyone!

What’s the weather like on the Emerald Coast?

Like most of Florida, this area is known for gorgeous weather year-round. While it may rain occasionally, you’ll mostly find sunny skies with temperatures in the 80s during the summer and in the 60s during the winter. Remember to pack your sunscreen!

How can I learn more about visiting the Emerald Coast? With so many areas to visit, you’ll want to do a little research before your trip. For more information, check out the Emerald Coast Magazine for information and deals along with the visitor info on the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website. Want to move here?
We think this area makes a great place to call home! There are numerous businesses providing job opportunities, along with many ways to become your own boss! If you’re interested in owning your own business in the Emerald Coast area, contact us or browse our extensive database of Emerald Coast businesses for sale. Welcome to Florida’s Best Beaches! Once you see the crystal clear water, white sand beaches, taste our fresh seafood (which you can catch yourself!), and explore our fun towns, you’ll love the Emerald Coast as much as we do!

The Safe Way to Buy and Sell

If you’re interested in buying and selling a business in a low-risk environment, you’ll want to work with a business broker. Find out how here.

Buying and Selling a Business Safely

Buying a business is less risky than starting one from the ground up. And if you want to sell a business, you’re likely to make more money selling it to an interested buyer than liquidating your assets. However, buying and selling a business can be a exasperating and intricate process—especially if you haven’t done it before. So how do you safely buy and sell a business? With a business broker. Let’s look at how using a business broker is the safe way to buy and sell a business.

Business Brokers Make the Process Simple

At Emerald Coast Business Brokers, we’ve made the business acquisition process as low risk as possible. We want you to not only have a low stress experience, but we want you to feel comfortable throughout the process by providing our expertise. Prescreening. We start by prescreening both buyers and sellers. Businesses placed on the market are prescreened to help ensure they are worthwhile investments. Potential buyers are taken through a prequalification interview and screening to determine skills, goals, and funding. This helps you avoid wasting your time.

Maintain Confidentiality.

We provide a professional confidentiality agreement for both buyers and sellers. This protects you during the process, before, during, and after the sale. Confidentiality keeps your day-to-day business running without any negative impact. If you try to buy or sell your business on your own, you’ll have to be very public and open about it, which has the potential to negatively impact your employees, customers, vendors, and suppliers. Confidentiality is vital when trying to buy or sell a business the safe way.

Paperwork Assistance.

A business broker will work with you to complete all paperwork. Sellers will need to collect financial records, tax returns, and financial statements to share during due diligence. Buyers will have to compile paperwork for lenders, attorneys, and insurance companies. Having the assistance of professionals who have been through this process countless times before provides you with the confidence that required paperwork will be completed properly and in a timely manner.

Contact a Trusted Advisor

Are you ready to choose the safe way to buy and sell a business? Contact the team at Emerald Coast Business Brokers. No matter the type of business you’re interested in, you can count on us to be there through the entire process. Our qualified advisors are experienced in business transactions, both big and small, and they are ready to help you. Set up a confidential consultation by filling out this form. A member of our team will be in contact with you to help you safely buy or sell your business.