Be Prepared – Ensure You Are Personally Ready to Buy and Take Over a Business For Sale

You’ve scoured the internet, spoken to dozens of agents and read through all of the relevant press and papers. You’ve found the dream business you have always craved and the money is in the bank, ready and waiting to finish the deal – you’re ready to go. STOP! Are YOU personally in a ready state to run a business as a full time operation? You may think so but consider some very important questions for a moment before you strike up a deal:1) Financial Forecasting – incredibly, more businesses are started or purchased every year by those who have done no financial forecasting or calculations than those who have. Let’s just consider this scenario carefully. You are about to spend either all or a large chunk of your entire life savings, a large bank loan or an investors money on a new business venture, yet you have no idea what the monthly running costs of the business will be and how much money you need to make or what your projections are. Sounds insane doesn’t it? Yet this happens more often than not.Buying a business is one of the biggest financial decisions you could ever take in your life. It will be the sole source of your income, influence your well being and will determine whether you live comfortably and within your means, or struggle and become overwhelmed with debt. Financials are vital. Cash flow forecasts, sales projections and profit and loss calculations will give you a much clearer picture of what your proposed business can or can’t achieve and exactly how much hard work you will need to put in!It never ceases to amaze me how many individuals go blindly into a business venture with a gung-ho attitude that “everything will be fine… don’t worry, be happy” mentality. You will do yourself no harm and a huge favour by using just a few simple, free financial templates to check your numbers. Most are available to download to use in programs such as MS Office. There’s no excuse why you shouldn’t spend a good few hours putting together a solid set of figures. This will give you a clear path into your new future and a better understanding of what monetary targets your business needs to achieve to be successful and profitable. If you haven’t started any, start now.2) Marketing – plays a huge part in any business. Yes, even a simple cafĂ© or convenience store relies on even the basic forms of marketing. Whether you have a good head for advertising or are a complete novice, the importance of getting your message out there is paramount. Anything from simple window ads, point of sale material and press advertising to internet, radio and TV advertising, all contribute to the visibility and success of a business. If your customers know about you, they will come.There are numerous ways to use more cost effective, even free forms of advertising. The internet is a wonderful tool for starters. Email is a cheap and direct way to market a business. The internet is also a powerful, instant cost-effective solution when using search engines. Reading about good marketing techniques will help you go a long way. Go to your local library or search some of the many online stores such as Amazon for a good book on marketing and sales planning. They have a huge range of books that use plain English to help you understand how to best market your future business. A few pennies spent on good reference material is money well spent.3) Lifestyle – it’s very easy to get carried away with the romance of running your own business however, have you considered the changes it will have on your own personal life? It’s one of the biggest mistakes that many people make, jumping in head first into running a business – just how much it will demand of your time! If you intend to take on a small business that may have been ran solely by it’s current owners or had just a handful of staff, ask yourself why that person may have decided to sell themselves.One of the reasons may have been the demands it placed on them. Remember, if you intend to run a business yourself on a full-time basis, basic necessities or routines such as days off, annual holidays and and regular pay cheque may not be so easy to come by. Owning a business is demanding stuff, almost like becoming a parent. Many businesses end up consuming a persons time and lifestyle which can lead to a bad situation with your well-being. If you haven’t signed on the dotted line just yet and you have a business in mind that you are considering buying, ask the owner the simple question of how much time they work per week and how much time off they get. The response is likely to be the most revealing insight into the business in all of your negotiations to date.4) Planning – and last but certainly not least is your overall planning. Just as of my previous comments with financial forecasting, business plans and missions seem to get overlooked by so many. In most cases, the reasons are simply down to ignorance, laziness or simply blind faith! Most new businesses fail within their first two years and in most cases, this is due to a lack of planning, financial forecasting and experience.Even if you are taking on a business that has been trading successfully for 10 to 20 years, you are still new to this business and effectively you have taken the business back to square one. There’s a phrase that sums up this scenario perfectly – “Fail to prepare, Prepare to fail”. The past two years between 2008 to 2009 have clearly illustrated that even the most successful of businesses that appeared stable and profitable can fail. Just ask an ex-employee of Merrill Lynch how that feels. However in your situation, it’s highly unlikely that a bank will come to your rescue!So, before you dive in head first, spend the time required to really plan out you first few months, even years of trading. If you set yourself clear targets, aspirations and goals, your motivation will be greater and the rewards will be huge. So on that note, good luck and enjoy the ride. Running your own business can be a very satisfying and liberating experience and if done right, can set you up for life.

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