After coaching business buyers and owners for over a decade now, some things have become clear about what it takes to own a business that you will love. I'm not kidding. You really can love your work!
Now don't misunderstand me. I did not say that you will not have to work hard. I have never met anyone who said they don't work hard. Ever since Adam and Eve and the snake in the garden, people have toiled by the sweat of the brow, and there have been thorns and thistles with which to contend. But some of us love our hard work; we actually look forward to Monday mornings!
If you will do some personal reflection in advance, and then will do some sound planning, and will finally execute your plan, it is possible to find a business that you will love to own. Below are some things to consider in finding a business that you love.
The Personal and Business Planning Stage
Get a clear personal vision. Where do you personally want to be in five years? How much money in do you want in the bank? What type of work do you want to do? Do you want your work to be "white collar" or "blue collar?" Hire a coach to help you develop your personal vision. Ideally, your business should be the vehicle that propels you to meet your personal goals, so your personal vision comes first.
Count the Costs. There will be a price to pay. You will trade your time, money and creativity on your business venture. Make sure you understand the costs before you take the leap of faith of buying a business. Know how much cash you are willing to invest, and how much working capital will be required to operate a business.
Decide what kind of lifestyle you want. As you plan for a business purchase, make sure you have clarity about the lifestyle you want. Do you want banker's hours, or are you willing to be available 24 x 7? Do you have young children? How much time do you want to spend with your family? Decide in advance how much time you are willing to invest in your business.
Do the work that you love to do. What type of past work has brought you satisfaction? What are your passions and interests? Are you an extrovert or introvert? Do you like to sell, or would you rather crunch numbers? Personality profiles can help you to determine what types of jobs best suit you. Talk with people who know you well to confirm your unique skills and talents.
Don't do the work that you hate to do. I know this statement sounds obvious, but many business owners spend a lot of time doing jobs that they hate to do. Sure, these things have to get done, but that does not mean that the owner has to do that particular task. Doing what you hate to do is the fastest ticket to burnout. As you begin to explore a business purchase, have a plan upfront on how you will delegate tasks that you hate.
Find people to do the work that you hate to do. Consider a business partner who has the skills you need to do what you don't want to do. Or hire someone- you can always start out with someone part time or you can hire a "Virtual Assistant" to get those dreaded tasks done.
The Business Search Stage
Narrow Your Business Search to One or Two Industries. Once you have developed your personal vision, and have gain clarity about your lifestyle and passions, broadly search business industries that will serve your vision, lifestyle and passions and narrow your search to one or two industries. Search through business listings.
Hire a business broker to do a search for businesses that are not listed. A broker will market you to business owners and bring several acquisition options, and usually you will be the only buyer at the table.
Explore the good, bad and ugly of these industries by calling business owners who would not be competitors in the future. You will find that many will be very helpful in sharing the pluses and minuses of owning their business. Go to industry association websites for outlook and information. Attend industry related shows and meetings.
The Business Acquisition Stage
Explore Acquisitions Opportunities. Your business broker should bring several opportunities for you to consider through business listings and acquisition searches. Narrow the field to one or two acquisition candidates.
Form an Acquisitions Team. You should have a competent business broker or intermediary, a good CPA and a good business transaction attorney on your team. Make sure that your team understands your personal vision, lifestyle requirements and passions so that they may help you evaluate possible acquisitions.
Offers and Negotiations. Use your broker to negotiate for you. Never negotiate your own deal; you will leave dollars on the table.
Perform due diligence. This is the time to really know what you are buying. Get help from your team; develop a due diligence checklist to investigate important aspects of the purchase.
Closing. Now you are the proud owner of a business that you will love!
Notice that in this article much more emphasis is placed on the planning stage. Certainly every stage will be time consuming, but the time you spend up front clarifying your personal vision and priorities will set the stage for finding the right business for you. Get help from the very beginning until the very end; wise advisors will help you to avoid major land mines! Get in the habit of sharing your vision with everyone you encounter in the process; this will keep everyone moving in the same direction.