You’ve found a business or two that you really like. You’ve filled out the NDAs and have the marketing packages in front of you. You’ve scheduled a conference call or a meeting with the sellers and the brokers, and your broker has asked you to come up with a list of questions.
So, what do you want to know?
It can be tempting in this situation to just Google “lists of questions for business buyers” and then bring that list of questions with you. Don’t do that. If you need to look up a list of questions to ask it’s likely that you haven’t done any research on your side.
Here’s what we mean:
Have you thoroughly read the marketing package you received once you signed the NDA? This one becomes blatantly obvious once you start asking boiler-plate questions that were clearly answered in the material you were already given. This tells the seller that you don’t really care about details and are willing to waste everyone’s time. If you were selling a business that was your blood, sweat and tears would you be willing to give the keys to someone who can’t be bothered? Probably not.
Have you researched the local market, the industry in general, the area where the business is located, etc.? If you are serious about buying a business you should want to know everything about not only the business but the industry and local area as well. Again it will show your lack of dedication to the process if you go into that first meeting and ask something a simple internet search could have told you or that you probably should already know if this is the business you’re hoping to buy.
Have you read the list of questions you’re going to ask? This one might sound crazy but it happens with frankly alarming regularity. People will either ask or send a list of questions to be answered that are from a completely different arena. Like a person looking at a small café who asks about the stock options available to investors. Once again this shows everyone involved that you probably don’t care.
See the recurring theme? Your meetings and calls with a seller are critically important opportunities to gather the information you need to make an informed decision about whether this business will be right for you. These interactions are also pivotal in terms of showing a seller that you’re a serious buyer and someone capable of taking over the business that they care about. Don’t waste your own time by not taking the opportunities to ask great questions.
Are you looking at businesses to buy and aren’t sure what types of questions you should ask? Do you want to know what kinds of information you would need for a particular industry? Ask an experienced and qualified business broker for help! You may also leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.