Buying a Business to get an E2 visa

Buying a Business to get an E2 visa

Special Guest; Michael Monnot, Business Broker

Angie: Hi Everybody, great to see you. We’re gonna be starting here in just a minute… There is Michael… Let’s see if we can let him in. Michael are you there yet? There you go. Hey Michael, how is it going?

Michael: Hello…. We are actually the wrong way, how do I put the camera…

Michael: Is that alright?

Angie: There we are! How are you?

Michael: Doing well how are you?

Angie: Great, thanks so much for joining us today and, I think that topic that we’re going to talk about today is something that you and I handle a lot. Which is… What type of business should I get for my E2? and I get that question all the time and I have to say, “Just call Mike! I do immigration I don’t do business.” So, that’s why you’re here. So let’s talk a little bit about that, I know you do… You obviously are a business broker, and you help U.S. citizens buy businesses as well. But one of the things that you do is you help a lot of E2 investors find businesses that might be suitable for the E2, is that correct?

Michael: Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. Yeah, it’s you know, it’s just like anything else, it’s an interview process, figure out what people like and go find it for them. Pretty simple.

Angie: You’re right, I think some kind of overview is simple; but it gets a little bit more complex as we dig into the different types of businesses. But as I always tell clients, almost anything will work for the E2 as long as it fits the requirements. There’s not one type of business that works better than others, you just need to fit the requirements. So, with that in mind, let’s take a step back and I’d love to hear a little bit more about your process.

If someone came to you and said: “Hey I’m looking to get an E2, but I don’t even know where to start with the business…” What types of things… Where would you start with them?

Michael: The number one thing unfortunately typically is money, and that’s where I like to start with to see where they’re comfortable with the budget. And then, we start to dig into the personality so you know, one of my first questions I ask is, is the business that they’re looking for, is it passion or is it money? And we start to suss out their skill sets, you know, hopefully that it’s transferable from what they’ve done and where they’re coming from to over here. And as you know sometimes it’s not. We’ll get, for instance, Germans, as an example, have no idea about lawn care.  You know, it’s just… it’s not something that happens over there. Or, you know sometimes people don’t want physical labor. It’s just asking a lot of questions an getting to know somebody.

Angie: Great! So, a lot of it is about personal preference, skill set, interests and location, right? I mean, I think if you’re going to be moving to northern Minnesota maybe lawn care is not great, it’s like 3 months a year. If you’re moving to Florida or Arizona or California that could be a great business so, a lot of it would be about location as well, I presume.

Michael: Correct, absolutely, yeah.

Angie: So, this is something that I tell clients too, although you have a lot more information than I do.  “Pick something you like. It doesn’t have to be anything specific. Pick something you’re interested in.” But you’re right, one thing you said at the very beginning that’s always kind of a concern is the money. So, obviously businesses are kind of like wedding dresses, you can spend as much as you want. But, what are the typical ranges that you see that people are able to actually buy a business? So I’m sure people come to you with $15,000. That’s not going to work for the E2 and it’s not going to buy any business than anybody wants anyway. What´s kind of a range of things that you typically see that people can get into businesses that can be successful?

Michael: I think businesses as low as $40,000 – $50,000 dollars work for the right person; but, there’s always a caveat that they have to build it, that they have to gain employees you know, the typical visa stuff. So that’s on the low end, and that’s pretty rare that we find something that works for somebody. And again, a lot of times that seems to have been on the L1 visa. Most of the time I would say the business sales for the E2 visas are $80,000 and up to maybe $300,000. It is pretty rare selling a business over a half million for an E2. We have done it but it’s not typical.

Angie: So, would you say somewhere $100,000 to $200,000 dollars would be the most typical range?

Michael: That’s the sweet spot, absolutely.

Angie: Yeah, I would say that’s true kind of for my clients as well. Whether they buy a business or start one it’s usually between $100,000 and $200,000 dollars. So I guess if you really average it out – about $150,000 or so would be a very doable, as far as I’m concerned, doable E2. But then also as far as you’re concerned it sounds like possibly on the business side that could work as well, like you can actually get a business that has you know, a legitimate client base, could grow from there or something for $150,000 ballpark.

Michael: Oh yeah, yeah, 100%. Looking at some of those simple lawn businesses I mean, $150,000 might get you $70,000 or $80,000 income a year and two or three employees. And that’s perfect.

Angie: Right, absolutely right. So, interesting. And it’s interesting to hear everybody’s, I’m sure, different skill sets and interests and things like that. What are some of the types of businesses that you have seen work for people?  I’m sure there are the basics, right? Like, coffee shop, that kind of thing. What are some of the other more kind of interesting businesses maybe that you´ve seen?

Michael: Yeah, you know, I like specialty businesses. So, just a niche business, for instance, there’s a business available that handles teak custom work for boat manufacturer for boaters. Teak goes out all the time here in Florida. You know the sun kills everything and there is a significant amount of money so, just you know, a niche like that it’s just, it’s like, it´s wonderful.

Angie: Great, that’s fantastic. I am apologizing upfront today is a non-school day so, I have kids at my door and my kid is running around. It’s Veteran’s Day so everybody’s at home. But anyway, yes, so you know, it’s interesting as well I’ve had those types of businesses too. Sometimes businesses I’ve never really heard of or didn’t really know existed; but they can work and if you have a specialized skill set you know, from your home country some of those can be really great. So don’t sleep on something just because it’s not what you think of as typical. It doesn’t have to be, and in fact sometimes I recommend against a bit is a restaurant. Everyone kind of comes to me, “Oh we’ll just buy a restaurant that focuses on you know fill in the blank country food.”  You can do that, and that could work but there are so many other options out there; and some of them are a lot faster and cheaper frankly, than restaurants. Restaurants can be real pain in the behind.

Michael: Yeah you know we we’ve had people come, for instance with significant leather skills.  I remember selling a business and the person made purses, coats, you know had a fantastic skill set. It was a little bit difficult to place that business for a visa but, we ended up finding a buyer. But yeah, absolutely do what you know and let’s see how we can transfer it over to a business here.

Angie: That’s actually right. I’ve had a lot of different businesses people starting businesses or buying businesses that are not your typical businesses and from an immigration perspective, it doesn’t have to be a typical business, it just has to meet the requirements. Normally I tell people are you have customers and you have to have employees. If you’ve got that – do what you like, do what you enjoy. Those are the important things, right?

So, we talked about price, that’s a big one. It sounds like one should plan on $100,000 to $200,000. I tell my clients the exact same. Skill set and interests, that’s another one. Anything else that you tell people are going to take into account when they’re trying to find a business to buy?

Michael:  Well yeah, that’s always part of that getting to know them. So some people have children, so they ask about schools in certain areas. That’s usually a pretty major one and then, I find a lot of times people have misconceptions about areas. They think it’s a bad area or as an example: Tampa is a huge place, it does have some good places, and it has a few bad places. But to exclude a significant area such as that you know, it just… But you know, it goes back to everything is about really getting to know somebody. So it’s not… I would say one of the most important factors in what we do is that aspect of … Some people jump from broker to broker or only want to talk to the listing agent. After we sit down and we talk and we get to know somebody for a couple of months, usually we can sit down and say “this business is not right for you because…” And we can point out a couple of factors and help him think a little bit outside the box.

Angie: And vice versa, right? Hey this came across my desk, it sounds exactly like something you’re looking for. Would be interested in, could be good at as well, right?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely.

Angie: I think that’s really important too and I think that you hit the nail on the head with location. You know, sometimes people… A lot of people who contact me do have interest in a certain area, you know, a state at least.

Sometimes people contact me and they’re not really sure, and they are like “Where should I live in the United States?” I’m like “Oh boy.” I mean, it’s everything from Vermont to Hawaii and everything in between. So, what do you like? What kind of weather do you like? What kind of environment do you like? Do you like living in a smaller town? You like living in a bigger city? And sometimes, if they’re looking for “oh I want to do a teak business.”  Well you need to live by the ocean. I mean, don’t start that in Nebraska. That’s going to be a problem, right?

So, I guess something that you and I both say is a lot of this is up to personal choice. What do you want to do? What do you like? How much money do you have? Where do you want to live? Because the E2 will fit almost anything, right?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. The more money you spend the easier it is. Like you said, if you have clients, space, whatever… yeah you got your E2.

Angie: Yes, so let me ask you this. This is another question everybody asks me, “How long does a process like this, finding a business take?”

Michael: Well… You know, people have to roll with the punches. We’re unfortunately in a market right now or at least where we are, we don’t have a lot of small businesses on the market; and there’s not a whole lot coming up. So, people have to be able to be flexible so you know, there’s some… sometimes people come to us, and I do everything I can not to help them buy that business, because it’s a bad business. And then, some people just don’t care and you know, it goes both ways.

Angie: So, you think… I mean, there’s always that thing, right? I don’t want to call it beginner’s luck but, there’s always a thing where somebody calls you and he’s like I’m thinking about this and you just happen to have something that’s almost exactly that at this minute, right? And in a case like that would take probably a couple of weeks to finish.

But then, I’m sure you also have the other extreme where people call you and maybe it takes a year or longer. What´s the average time and I know we’re in a super weird time right now so, kind of taking this for every industry. I swear every person I talk to is just like “Oh my God it’s crazy right now.” But, let’s just take this kind of weird anomaly time out.

What would be an average for someone from the day they call you till the day they are signing a business? How long does something like that take?

Michael: It is usually over a year.

Angie: Oh really?

Michael: Yeah, yeah. For me… I mean, obviously we get those calls where people find the business and they find business in the first, second or third try, they’re ready to move. Most of the time that’s not the case. Most of the time they contact us, ask some questions, we don’t hear from him for six months. They do some research, they’ve been looking at listings, they come back you know, it’s just, it really depends on the buyer. And like I was alluding to, you know, there’s also those discerning buyers that have to have everything perfect for $100,000, $200,000. They skew the averages, you know.

We’ve seen people go three, four, five years before finding a business as well. So, again, so much is personality type. If you can you know roll with the punches and realize that everything is not going to be perfect, especially in this price range. That’s the mindset you have to be in and you can find a business in 2-3 months.

Angie: Right. I mean, I think, when you’re saying a year or two, it sounds like that’s from if someone called you today and then kind of disappears for a little bit doing their own research then comes back. But someone who’s serious that talks to you today like “This is what I’m doing…” Sounds like maybe three to six months would be an average time to find something without having every single item exactly a fantasyland, right?

Michael: Yeah, I would say that’s correct.  Just for the fact that you know, people don’t want to come over here… You know, it’s just like buying a car or anything else: you don’t buy the first car you look at or the first home, whatever the case is. You want to go take a look, ask some questions, get a feeling for the surroundings and then make a decision there. And I find a lot of times too people, one of the first 2, 3, 4 businesses that they’ve looked at has always stuck in their mind. And then you know, we may look at 5, 10, 20, 30 businesses and they end up circling back to one of the first ones they see just for confirmation.

Angie: Right, which makes sense. So, it sounds like the takeaways might be to be flexible, but also, be honest with yourself about what you want to do, where you want to live and how much money you’re willing to spend and what you want out of this business, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Angie: I always I tell people the exact same thing. And then I say, “Call Mike, I don’t do business. I do immigration.” So with that said Mike, how could somebody,  if they’re interested in getting more information about buying a business, how could somebody contact you?

Michael: Yeah, so our website is a great place to start. We have all of our contact information at We have an aggregate system that we have thousands of business listings throughout the state of Florida, and we have articles about immigration: buyers’ articles, sellers’ articles, you name it. Some people read half the website, some people email, some people call so, the information is there, I’m here.

Angie: Fantastic! Thanks Mike and obviously anybody that’s interested in an E2 visa reach out to us, you could email me or send us a WhatsApp (323) 434-4385.

Thanks Mike, it was great having you.

Michael: Yeah, pleasure. Thank you so much, and it´s good to see you again.

Angie: Yeah, great to see you too. Talk soon.

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