Five stages to buying a business

Some people will tell you that it used to be simple and that success came easy - but the truth is that buying a business is no easy task and never has been.

In some cases success was easier in the days before the recession, at least in the short-term. But keeping things going over a substantial period of time is something that will always take a lot of time and effort to achieve.

We can't give you all the answers in one post, but here are five areas to think about along the way to making an acquisition. Check out some of our subscriber articles for more in-depth information.

1. Do your research. Many sectors have become strapped for cash in recent years, but some have actually benefited from the economy being turned on its head. The hotel sector, for example, took a nose dive initially, but savvy business buyers are now finding some bargains and turning their fortunes around. Take some time to do some research and find out what areas of business interest you and offer a decent level of potential profit.

2. Monitor a few possible acquisitions. Don't rush into things, have a look around the market at some businesses that might suit you and check out their prices. Work out what some reasonable expectations in terms of turnover and costs and make sure you have a good broad overview of the market.

3. Organise your affairs. Once you know how much you're going to invest in the new business it's time to triple check your own finances and paperwork to ensure that you can make a move when the right opportunity crops up. This involves everything from securing finance to having a business proposition in place.

4. Narrow your search. Start thinking seriously and close your search down to look for the right business for you.

5. Do the deal. Signing on the dotted line is the exciting part, but don't neglect things like due diligencewhen you come to put a bid in for a business. This is your last chance to ensure this is the business for you, so don't be shy when it comes to asking questions about financial details and accounts. You will also need to consider handover arrangements at this point and think about whether or not you would like the seller to remain involved in the business in some capacity.

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