Investigate these 7 Points When Buying a Business

Investigate these 7 Points When Buying a Business

Investigate these 7 Points When Buying a Business

Buying a business can be a great move but it takes a lot of due diligence investigation. Due diligence is often thought of as “finding the bad stuff” but it is also important so that you understand what it will take to operate the business after you own it. OJT (on the job training) is helpful but preparation is even better.

Buying a Business

Know what to research

Keep in mind that these magnificent 7 aren’t the only things you need to investigate but they are 7 that are often overlooked or short-changed when buying a business.

  1. Cash Cycle – understand the cash cycle from when you incur cost to when you collect cash. 10 days? 30 days? 60 days?  Think through the stages, when do you spend money? When do you collect money? Every business has a cash cycle, dissect the steps to make sure you understand when cash is expensed and when you receive cash. If you have 10% profit you have 90% you owe other people. You’ll need to fill the “cash gap” with financing or cash injections from other sources.
  2. Hidden Costs – know the “hidden” costs in the system, warranty, call backs, inventory losses, un-billable hours, and uncollected AR. Most business owners only think about these things at year end when the CPA does the business taxes but this effects your cash every day.
  3. Specialized Knowledge – know the specialized knowledge of the current owner. Technical knowledge? Craft knowledge? Relationship knowledge? Supply source knowledge? The employees will judge you beginning day 1. Make sure you know what they expect you to know.
  4. Cash Needs -know your cash per sales growth requirements; don’t grow yourself into poverty. For every dollar in sales you’ll need to have some dollars available to fund expenses and products until you collect the cash from the customer.
  5. Pricing – understand how the current owner prices products and services.  Markup? GM? Guesses? Competitive comparison?  Is there room for improvement? Does current pricing have anything to do with the market? Who has special deals?
  6. Insurance – understand the current insurance coverages and make sure your coverages reflect your risk tolerance levels. Get an insurance audit. Make sure you review every aspect of insurance you need. Often we find sellers are under insured. Getting proper insurance could effect the biz earnings and the amount you might be willing to pay to buy the business.
  7. Licenses – make sure you research the licenses, permits and compliance requirements needed to operate the business. Don’t assume the seller knows everything. Buying a business not in compliance with current requirements is risky business.

While you may be itching to simply sign on the dotted line..

Thinking about what businesses might be for sale?

STOP:  your preparation and due diligence will save you a great deal of  hassle and surprise. Buying a business takes time, thought and research. As an entrepreneur, this is just your first step in creating a successful business.

So You have a Deal to Buy a Business, now what?

So You have a Deal to Buy a Business, now what?

Congratulations but don’t pop the champagne yet. Now is when the real work begins in your quest to buy a business.

Essentially, there are 3 fundamental phases to orchestrate before your final takeover of the company. Keep in mind that each business or industry may have several variations of the progression. Here are some general guidelines but you and your advisers may have other steps or systems to add to this buying chain.

Please keep in mind your agreement to purchase likely has important dates identified. Keep track of those dates and take the action necessary to comply with those.

Phase 1 – Initial Due Diligence and Lender Commitment

This phase is mostly about the financials of the business and your personal financial situation.

Basically your lender will want to make sure that the likely cash-flow of the business fits your overall financial situation. Get with your lender immediately and begin the financial due diligence. Your lender will provide you with a list of items they need. The goal here is to do enough due diligence to get your loan commitment as quickly as possible. Get your advisors (typically at least an attorney and CPA) lined up quickly so they can help on the tricky items

Phase 2 – Full Due Diligence

This is where you and your advisers come up with a list of everything you want to know about the business. It’s important to have the loan commitment in hand when you get to this stage because sellers want to make sure they have a qualified buyer with the funding lined up before they release very highly confidential business information.

This due diligence takes a lot of time.

You need to commit to move thru it quickly, in a very organized manner. Remember, this stage is where you personally and along with your advisors, review, confirm, and challenge all aspects of the information. When conducting due diligence, forget about what the broker or seller or your buddy has said, it’s your job to review and confirm things yourself.

Remember, due diligence is about you, the buyer, managing your risk by knowing the facts.

Put in the work, it’s important.

Phase 3 – Closing Process

This begins after you have completed Phase 1 & 2. At this stage you’ll likely be asked to release or waive the contingencies in your offer and authorize the closing company to begin preparing closing documents.

At the same time you’re working thru the closing documents, you’ll also need to be focused on what’s involved in taking over the business and all of the details.

  • Is your insurance in place?
  • Do you have required licenses and inspections?
  • Is your merchant services account ready to go?
  • How will you introduce yourself to the staff? Is your payroll service set up and ready to go?
  • Have you formed your new entity or LLC?
  • Do you have your sales tax #?
  • Do you have your Fed ID #?

Make sure you’ve created a complete inventory beginning with the above suggestions. While it seems like an endless list, knock them off 1 at a time to create an even stronger foundation for the success of your new business venture.

After Phase 1, 2 & 3 you’ll be a new business owner.

Working thru these 3 phases can be exhausting and frustrating for both the buyer and seller but we’ve had 100s of people make it thru.

Keep a good attitude, try to avoid ultimatums, stay on good terms with the seller and realize there are lots of 3rd parties (banks, landlords, inspectors, etc) who often move at their own pace.