If you are considering a foray into small business ownership you may have a very common misconception – that any business that would be offered for sale must be a business on the brink of failure. This misconception probably comes from media portrayals of huge multi-million dollar mergers and acquisitions with the purpose of preventing bankruptcy or saving a major brand name. The truth is, however, that perfectly good businesses go on sale every day, from the small main-street shop to businesses that employ thousands of people.
Think about home sales. A home that is listed on the market might be a tear-down, but for the vast majority of home listings the house is in great shape. The same goes for businesses.
If good businesses do go up for sale, why? Why would someone sell a great business?
Business owners decide to sell for a myriad of reasons. Many of these reasons are similar to reasons one might give for listing a house. Maybe the current owner is looking to get a financial return so they can retire. Maybe they are looking to move to another area. Perhaps they have some sort of family situation that is forcing them to sell – the point is not every business on the market is teetering on disaster.
Ok, so how do you tell if a business on the market is in good shape (or not)?
Do your homework and ask questions. When you inquire about a particular business you will be given access to cursory financial information. You can use that initial information along with general research (like the business website, reviews, social media accounts, etc.) to determine if you want to move ahead in the business purchase process. If you are very serious about a business then conversations with the current owner, site visits and the like would happen next. After your offer to the seller has been negotiated and accepted you will enter the due diligence phase, where you will be able to pour over everything and decide if the business is still right for you.
You will have ample time and opportunity to discover any issues the business has, and then you will have the choice to proceed or stop based on what you find. Even if a business isn’t in amazing shape, it could be a good buy because you could pay less up front and then work to turn the business around. This is typically the path a serial entrepreneur takes, buying a business in trouble and then growing it with the intention to sell once the business has met certain markers for success.
The point is that there are lots of good businesses out there, and your path to business ownership will give you all the information you need to make an informed choice about what you are buying.
Are you thinking about buying a business but have more questions about the process? Would you like to know what kinds of business ownership opportunities are currently available? You can click here to search, or leave us any questions or comments here.
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