Buying a business – what you need to know

Buying a business can seem the easy route for those who want to run their own company without as much hassle. Purchasing an already established firm can take away many of the stresses, such as finding the initial investment, registering the business, finding premises and employing staff. However, that is not to say that simply buying a business that someone else has already set up is without its challenges.

Do Your Research
Time taken at the beginning to research thoroughly the market you are entering and potential businesses to buy will be well spent.

Think long and hard about every aspect of the purchase, and do not just consider the financial commitment. Buying and running a business takes a lot of time and dedication, and if it is going to work you will have to put in many hours. This will impact on your personal life, so be sure you are ready for the change in lifestyle:  you may find that weekends are no longer your own and that evenings are spent poring over paperwork rather than relaxing with the family.

Look carefully at the sector you are going to enter. Find out how other businesses in the arena are doing and, if any have failed, ask yourself why and make sure you do things differently. Clarify every single thought you have about running your company and be clear on your goals and aspirations. Summarise your thoughts in a business profile and do not be afraid to ask the opinions of others, from friends and family to business advisers and current or previous owners of similar firms.

Above all, question everything and do not take what you are told at face value. The vendor may try to put a rosy tint on the situation, financial lenders may paint an overly pessimistic picture to prepare you for the worst, and friends and family might just be telling you what you want to hear! Do all your research thoroughly and you will be prepared for the next stage.

Getting the Best Deal

Once you have all the information you need about buying a business and have found the company you want to own, it is time to negotiate and get yourself the best deal possible.

Do not get carried away and spend over-the-odds in your enthusiasm to run your own company. Again, do some research into the market and find out what similar firms have been selling for. When you are ready to make an offer, set yourself limits. Go in with a low offer but make sure you know the maximum you are willing to pay, based on your financial situation and what the business is worth.

When discussing price, do not be afraid to raise any issues you have uncovered during your research and be prepared to explain why the amount you are offering is a fair one.

Christie + Co specialise in marketing businesses for sale across a wide range of sectors including hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops.  More information on buying a business is available on the Christie + Co business blog.

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