Acquiring a business is often simpler than building one from the ground up. Operations are already running, key processes have been implemented, and there’s staff on board.

Although the process itself is somewhat complex, you can tackle it quite effectively. To help you out, here’s our six-step guide to acquiring a small business.

Determine What Kind of Business You Want to Buy

The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of small business you want to buy and why.

Starting with the latter is a good way to go. Consider whether you want to run the business yourself, sell it for a significant profit, merge it with an existing business, and so on.

Depending on your goal, you can then choose the type of business you will be buying. Consider your own expertise and interests, too. Ideally, you will buy a business in a niche you understand or are passionate about.

Also, consider whether you want the small business to operate purely online or if you want it to have a physical location as well.

Look for Sellers

Your next step is to find a likely business. You can do this in numerous ways:

  • Look online. There are plenty of websites that list small businesses for sale. For starters, you can check out their current listings.
  • Work with a broker. They can help you find a business for sale and negotiate the price for you. Note that they will also demand a fee.
  • Call local businesses. You can get in touch with businesses yourself and see if the owner is interested in selling.
  • Ask around. Your friends, family, or business connections might know someone who is looking to sell their business, so make sure to put some feelers out, too.
  • Advertise yourself. Use social media to spread the word that you are in the market for a certain kind and size of small business. That way, offers can come to you.

Set up a Meeting with the Owner

Once you’ve found a business you are interested in buying, set up a meeting with the owner to discuss specifics.

Use this time to ask as many questions as you can think of and get to know the ins and outs of the operation.

Pay special attention to what your gut is telling you. Do you feel the owner is being honest? Do you feel they are trying to hide something? Does anything about the business or the deal make you feel uneasy?

Find an Investor

After you’ve spoken with the owner and thoroughly researched the business to make sure it is sound and viable, you will need to find the money to buy it.

If you are not lucky enough to already possess the necessary funds, you can look for small business investors who can lend a hand. Make sure you understand what the investment entails and how much they’ll want to be involved in the daily running of the company.

You can also apply for a loan from your bank. Read the fine print carefully and shop around until you find the best possible option.

Handle the Paperwork

Once you’re certain about your purchase, you will need to review, acquire, and sign a lot of papers. Regardless of the sale format, i.e., whether you’re buying a business outright or merging it with an existing company, the paperwork will seem endless.

Make sure to hire a great lawyer and accountant who specialize in purchases to help you out. There will be a lot of complicated phraseology involved, and you want to make sure you don’t miss a document and that all the assets of the business are legally transferred to you.

Get to Know the Business

While you’re still in the process of acquisition, take some time to pick the former owner’s brain and get to know the intricacies of their operation. Speak to the staff as well and ask them how they do things now and how they would prefer things to be run.

Don’t swoop in and try to make lots of changes all at once. Take some time to observe and learn, and only then start improving things your way.

Speak to the customers or clients as well, as they are ultimately the ones who need to be satisfied with the business. Their insight can prove invaluable for future growth.

Wrapping Up

Ready to start looking for a small business to buy? Don’t forget to do lots and lots of research, and have all of your questions answered before you make an offer. Making the wrong choice can cost you quite a lot, but making the right one can turn out to be the best business move you’ve ever made.