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Why Lenders Like Funding Business Acquisitions

Buying an existing business may get lenders on your side faster than building from scratch.

This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Three words sum up Karin Mills' business philosophy: refurbish, recycle, reuse. "If I can spruce up a room or equipment, I've saved thousands for something else," says the Carrboro, North Carolina, restaurateur. "I don't know what I'd do if I had a slab of land and had to decide what kind of building to put there. But it would probably be square." That's because Mills and business partner Linda Bourne, 39, have encountered some unusual structures. When launching their first venture in 1998, Spotted Dog Restaurant & Bar, they had to contend with a V-shaped building with narrow walkways. Then they set their sights on a restaurant in a train car, which they adapted into an old-fashioned soda shop.

Both times, they made the most of unique opportunities absent major commercial funding. Growth was swift, particularly after adding catering to the business mix, but their facilities were ill-equipped to handle the increased output. "We were making ice cream, and we were in a train car," recalls Mills, 37.

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