Finding a business to purchase should be the final step in a process that begins with self-evaluation and a sound financial assessment. Obviously, before buying a business, you’ll need to determine what type of business you are qualified to run and would enjoy owning. Based on your own skills, technical knowledge, abilities, interests, and personality, you can determine which type of business will provide you with the best opportunity to use your talents most effectively and turn a profit.
Once you have determined which type of business is best for you, it’s time to start your search. One of your first considerations will be location. Questions regarding location that you will want to ask yourself include:
- How far will your business be from your home?
- Do you want to own a business in another location and have others handle the day-to-day activities?
- How important is location to the success of your business? (Obviously, location will have less of an impact on an Internet or mail-order business than with a retail operation.)
- What is the competition in your prospective location?
- What are the zoning and tax laws there?
- Will you be able to expand, or are you limited to space as it is currently configured?
- Can the business be easily relocated if necessary?
Along with answering questions about location, you need to know how much you can afford to spend. Once you have an idea about where to look and what your budget is, start by reading local newspaper advertisements under the Business Opportunities heading. In most metropolitan areas, the Sunday papers will have a large listing section. Conversely, you can also place an ad stating that you are looking to purchase a specific type of business.
You can also start your search by word of mouth. You can network via your local civic and business organizations and attend meetings of the Chamber of Commerce. Many businesses have trade organizations or associations. By networking with people in the industry and handing out your business cards you can learn more about opportunities.
Industry newsletters can also be a plus when seeking businesses that are for sale. You can expand your possibilities further by spreading the word among friends, family, and colleagues, and in social or community groups to which you belong.
You might also enlist the services of a business broker. While business brokers usually represent sellers, a broker may be able to inform you of sales opportunities you might otherwise have missed.
Just be sure to perform due diligence before selecting a business broker. Get references and check to see if he or she is a member of the International Association of Business Brokers or a member of your state’s business broker association.
The Internet is also a good place to start your business search. Search “buying a business” and include your state on a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, and you will have no shortage of results from which to choose.
For more information on buying a business, you can also consult the Business Reference Guide. Found in any good business library and available for purchase from Business Books Press, this annual publication has a wealth of information on finding and assessing the value of a business.