How long does it take to buy a business?
This is a common initial question as a business buyer begins their search – but it’s not a great question.
First of all, it’s almost impossible to answer. Every small business is unique, and as such no two business purchase transactions happen on the same timeline. It typically takes about six months for a new buyer to enter the market, find and purchase a solid business. Please understand that this six month time span is by no means a hard and fast truth. The length of your transaction will be contingent on many, many factors.
Second, this isn’t the question you should be asking if you are thinking about buying a business.
Ask these instead:
What businesses could I realistically buy with the funds I have available?
Do you have the capital ready and available to buy and run a business? This isn’t anything like buying a house or a car. You can’t walk in with zero funds or only a small percentage down and expect to finance the rest. Not only do you need to have (at the very least) a substantial down payment (if seller financing is an option or if you are looking at third party financing like a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA)) you also need to have enough funds to retain some working capital that will be needed to pay for things like new inventory, payroll and the like when you first take over.
A note here: You don’t have to have an enormous amount of money to invest in the purchase of a business. There are many very affordable options in the small business market! You just need to be realistic and conservative with the funds you do have in terms of what business you buy.
What kind of businesses meet the goals I have for business ownership?
Many new business owners walk into the business market under the mistaken assumption that anyone can own and run any type of business. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To keep your business profitable, you will need to be able to both navigate and compete in the market you are in. If you have little to no relevant experience in your business, if it’s a business too large for you to handle, if the business has hours or ownership responsibilities that don’t mesh with the personal life you want to have – it’s not going to work.
Don’t make the mistake of asking the wrong questions. Talk with your business broker about what your financial means are and what type of business would best suit the goals you have. Starting with the right questions will make you a more successful business owner in the end.
Are you thinking about buying a business? Do you have questions about seller financing and the best type of business for you? Ask us! Leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help you.