Analyze why you want to buy a business. Are you looking for greater independence or the possibility of increased income?
Consider your background. It’s more likely you’ll do well if you choose a business you’re familiar with. Are you interested in a specific product, or an operation that’s service-oriented?
Step 3Check Web sites such as BusinessesForSale.com to find interesting companies, and contact local business brokers to identify companies that may be on the block.
Step 4Perform a complete financial review of the business. This will typically include the company’s past income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow, as well as its projected financials going forward. Look closely at all liabilities; as the new owner you are inheriting the company’s debt as well as its business. Work closely with an accountant familiar with businesses in the same field.
Step 5Get a Dun & Bradstreet (dunandbradstreet.com) credit report on the company to evaluate its track record and to double-check its reported numbers.
Step 6Ask for a due diligence package, which should include past tax returns, any significant contracts the company has signed (including office or store leases) and any employee or contractor agreements. It will also include legal documents, such as filings, articles of incorporation and any past or pending lawsuits the company is involved in. Work closely with a lawyer to evaluate these and other documents.
Step 7Ask why the business is for sale. Is the current owner retiring, or hoping to pass off some ongoing problem–or worse, a fatally flawed business or location–to an unsuspecting buyer?
Step 8Focus on the problems. It’s easy to be blinded by the appeal of a business, but pay just as much attention to the flaws. Are they correctable or likely to be a constant headache?
Step 9Observe the business. If you’re considering buying a restaurant, for example, watch the customer traffic for a week to see if it measures up to the revenue the current owner claims. Talk to customers to get their honest take on the product or services.
Step 10Use a business broker or consultant if you feel you need some help locating potential businesses for sale or determining if the asking price is reasonable.
Step 12Determine a valuation for the business. Most industries have a standard method and concentrate on a multiple of the previous year’s revenue (the exact multiple will depend on the industry). If the business has a lot of capital equipment (a manufacturer, for example), the market value of the equipment is taken into account. Fast-growing businesses in a hot market are usually valued higher, as future potential is factored into the selling price.
Step 13Ask if the current owner will consider financing part or all of the sale. That can mean a low down payment and an attractive payment schedule for you.
Contact your Conveyancer to inspect the Contract for Sale of Business and to take care of the legal side of the deal. If you think we can be of further assistance call us on 02 9644 1551.