Buying a business that is already established can be an exciting opportunity… if it is the right business. You can get the benefit of a solid reputation, steady cash flow, loyal customers, proven processes and a reputable brand. But if you aren’t careful, you can end up with a bunch of negatives you weren’t expecting.
When you consider buying a business, it is essential to do your research to ensure you actually want what the seller is offering. It might seem great at first glance, but there could be some skeletons lurking in the closet upon closer inspection.
To prevent any nasty surprises, these are the things we recommend you investigate…
10 Things To Check When Buying A Business
Instead of jumping in blindly with both feet, there are five important questions that you need to ask before you even consider purchasing a particular business.
1: Why Is The Business For Sale?
This is the first and most important thing to look into. Is the owner selling the business for a legitimate reason, or are they trying to desert a sinking ship? There are many reasons that people decide to sell, just make sure a significant decline in the business is not the reason.
2: What Is The Business’ Reputation Like?
Does the business have a good name? If so, then it is likely to have the loyal customers and steady cash flow that you are after. If it does not have a good reputation, then you need to ask yourself why that is and can it be easily recovered?
3: Is The Business Profitable?
A business needs to make a profit, no matter how much you love what you do. Not just scraping by or covering costs, but a genuine profit that makes it worth your while to invest your blood, sweat and tears. If the business is not currently profitable, is there a way that you can easily turn it around? If not, it is better to walk away now.
4: Are The Conditions Right For Success?
Does the business fill a gap in the market, have local or national importance, or serve a very specific need? Any company needs to have the potential for success. So, the location needs to be right, the products or services need to be on point, and there has to be a need for it in the market.
5: What Is The Outlook For The Future?
Does the business have potential to grow and develop? If not, are the current conditions sustainable and will they satisfy your interest levels and your income needs? If the future looks uncertain or grim, then maybe consider a different business instead.
If the answers to those five questions don’t make you run away in fear, then it is time to dig deeper into what’s on offer in the sale. These are the things you should check before proceeding further:
1: Financial Statements & Sales Records
Have an accountant look over the financial statements for the business. Here at Accountants Plus, we are experts in reading the story of how the business has been operating and if it is a profitable investment for you. We can also help you analyse the sales records to see which products or services are the most popular and profitable. This information, plus investigating peaks and troughs throughout the year, will allow us to give you an accurate cash flow forecast.
2: Inventory and Asset Lists
Understand exactly what your money is buying you. Getting saddled with thousands of obsolete stock items is not something you want. You will want to know what assets you are receiving and how old they are. Ensure you have the right assets to keep the business running, but be mindful of ageing assets. They could mean a significant cash outlay to update them in the not too distant future.
3: Legal Documents
Request copies of any legal documents like lease agreements, insurance policies, employment contracts, license agreements, and any other legally binding documents. Have a clear picture of existing obligations and how long they remain in place for.
4: Location and Demographic
Is the business well placed for foot traffic and walk-in sales? Has the surrounding suburb undergone any changes that could negatively impact on the business? Also, consider your potential for digitising, or going online if that has not been done already.
5: Existing Staff
It can be both a curse and a blessing to take on existing staff. They will allow the business to tick over seamlessly while you find your feet but can be resistant to change. Find out about the personalities involved and consider how that will impact your ability to take over the business.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying a business. One of the most important things is to follow your gut instinct. Deep down if you feel like it isn’t the right fit for you, then walk away now. If your instincts say yes, then get in touch with us here at Accountants Plus. We can help you to discover if that business you are eyeing up will be a sound financial investment.