6 vital questions to ask sellers when buying a business
Are you buying a business?
Buying a Business, Here are six critical questions to ask sellers
Buying a business or an established business operation that is already generating cash flow is a great way to fast-track your way into business ownership and CEO creds. If you do it right, you’ll also be buying into contracts or relationships with productive, loyal customers and veteran employees who already know the ins and outs of the business.
If you have found a business that you think you might want to buy, the next step is to ask the seller some important vetting questions before you make any final decision. This helps ensure you’re making the right move to acquire the business or run for the hills, -fast.
Here is a list of six questions that you should consider when talking to a potential seller:
Ask for three years covering the business financial records
Get a feel for profitability, for margins… Ask the seller to provide you with the financial statements going back to three or five years . A reputable firm should audit the financial records for larger deals. If a seller doesn’t have organized financials, that’s probably a red flag for other mismanaged Easter Eggs bound to pop up down the road.
What are the high-potential prospects?
No entrepreneur wants to invest in a business with a stagnating or declining top-line. Ask the seller to provide you with a realistic, explainable projected sales analysis, and a list of their potential clients or customers that they intend to sell. This will give you an idea if there are workable client accounts or whether you have a real shot at accelerating growth.
Why are they selling their business?
Selling a business due to retirement or because an owner is investing her time and money into another venture, are common reasons a business owner might want to sell or exit their current business. Careful, -a business owner could be selling their business because it’s not turning a profit or they don’t like wants coming down the road with the macro economy. Make sure that you understand well why the business has been put up for sale. Accessing the financial statements and the sales records will ensure you a better understanding of the business and its potential.
What happens to outstanding contracts?
After exchange of business ownership, contracts that have been in place may cease to exist or transferred to the new owner. There are no guarantees that the current clients will want to continue working with the new owner. It is important to make sure that the current contracts or projects of these long-term clients won't become void after you acquire the business.
What are the challenges?
Every business comes with challenges and most of them are hard to deal with at best. Some business owners will absolutely try to hide any negative information that could depress a selling price, complicate terms or flat-out 86 the deal. It is your responsibility to conduct proper due diligence, so be forewarned.
Buying a business that is profitable and fits your potential can be life changing.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way (a first step anyway). You can also seek assistance from a business broker or accountant to ensure your getting a profitable business.