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What you Need to Know About Buying a Business

  • September 15, 2021

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Buying a business can be an excellent way to own a business without many of the initial start-up costs, but while it presents many advantages, it isn’t always a walk in the park. Buying a business from a trusted online platform still requires a lot of research and patience. Here is what you need to know about buying a business before investing.    

Work out your goals 

Some people buy a business as a livelihood, while others use it as a step to the next project. There are many reasons to buy and run a business, and you need to work out what yours are before you start investing.  

Understanding your goals for the business will shape everything that’s to come. For example, if you want to receive an annual income from the business, you will run it differently than if you what to increase its value to sell. 

Pick the right industry 

Once you have established a clear goal for your business, it’s important to pick the right industry. There’s little point in attempting to fulfill a childhood dream if the business isn’t going to be viable. You also need to pick an industry that has some potential for future growth. 

But how can you tell if an industry is going to be viable for you? You can do some research and talk to people, but this strategy will only take you so far; alternatively, you could work part-time in the industry to learn the basics and get a feel for it.  

Buy from a trusted source

When you have decided that owning a business is the right thing for you, it’s time to find one of the markets that’s for sale - but where can you go to find listings of businesses for sale? It needs to be a trusted source, so you don’t pay too much or buy a business that’s mis-advertised. 

First, find the top places to buy a business online and research the platform. Of course, you will want to view the listings but remember to take a look at the website itself and look into its terms and conditions. Carrying out this additional research reduces your risk of buying a faulty business.   

Do your research 

Research is vital when buying a business online. There’s a high chance that you will invest your money in a business that isn’t viable or one that is being mis-sold. So begin your research on the business listing platforms and draw up a shortlist of options. 

When you have your shortlist, it’s time to dig deeper and research the businesses themselves. Perform plenty of online and offline checks, write emails and talk to company personnel and customers. You might even pose as a customer to get a feel for the business.   

Have an initial viewing 

After you have carried out substantial research, it’s time to approach the business and make an offer - this is usually done through an agent. You can think of buying a business as similar to buying a house; it’s important to think with your head and not your heart.  

Investing in a business that isn’t viable can be an expensive mistake, so you need to get it right at the start. Have your agent arrange an initial viewing where you can come into the business as a prospective buyer and ask all the questions you need to ask. 

Do a reality check 

Researching a business before you buy one is a time-consuming process; it is also an emotional investment that can be hard to separate yourself from. However, this is something you need to train yourself to do before you choose to buy the business. 

After you have acquired all the information you need, both financial and legal, it’s time to take a reality check. Step back from the business and look at it objectively. Consider its strengths and weaknesses and decide if you can really turn it around or not.  

Work out the financials 

There are various ways to buy a business, but most prospective owners use a credit agreement with a bank. So before you make your initial offer, you will have to have this financial agreement set out in principle - a little bit like taking out a mortgage on a property. 

The financial institution you’re working with will need three years of accounts from the new business as well as financial projections. They might also require a guarantee from you in the form of a lump sum deposit. Other sources of finance are available if you struggle to get a bank loan.