Buying a business should always be regarded as a marathon not a sprint.
With that in mind, let’s see just how closely the process mirrors the long, intensive strategy required to be a successful long-distance athlete:
Get yourself in training
As a potential business buyer, you must put in some initial training yourself to get the very best out of your eventual purchase.
Run through your own hobbies and personal traits, and think about how they might influence your choice of business.
For example, if you like meeting people, then running a coffee shop might suit you. But not if you prefer to be out in the open air and visiting a variety of new locations every day.
Remember that it’s important to choose something you can commit many years to because it may take a while to grow your purchase and transform it into a thriving and lucrative business.
It goes without saying that you should research and find out all you can about any industry that you’re attracted to.
Before you think about buying a business, you will need to train yourself to become an expert in the variety of demands and expectations of that particular sector of the business world.
Your buyer-training phase should also include a realistic assessment of your purchasing budget, which must also include researching any funding options you are likely to require.
It’s also valuable to do some window-shopping to gain a clearer understanding of what viable options might be available to you in your chosen market and budget.
Before you get too far into the intensive negotiating and buying phase, a good ‘work out’ will help you to gain some practical experience that you will need further down the line with your own business.
There’s really no better way to do this than to spend time working in your chosen industry. You can either volunteer your services, or spend some time in an employment role at a local small business.
It’s also worth speaking to locals in the area where you plan to buy. This can help you find out important information about what is really needed or wanted in that area, and may give you some ideas as to how your planned business purchase could eventually cater for those needs.
It would also help you lay the foundations of another essential habit all small business owners need to acquire and constantly deploy – listening to your customers.
Having gathered the know-how needed to successfully purchase a promising business; your marathon has now begun.
And at this stage, carefully pace yourself and avoid making any hasty decisions. In business terms, that means taking time to get used to the business environment.
If you ride in all guns blazing, you may live to regret your impulsive behaviour.
It’s better to look and listen and get involved to find out how the day-to-day operations really work. Then once you’ve got a feel for the underlying rhythms, you will find it much easier to learn what can be improved or what may need to be abandoned and replaced with something better.
Remember to stay hydrated
Once you have started in your new business venture, you’re at last on that final, long home stretch.
Travelling that route will bring you a long and fruitful business career. But as you settle into your stride it’s still most important to keep your eye on the ball.
Running a business, which seems to tick over effortlessly, can be hard work at times. In particular, you will need to keep your new business looking forever fresh and current.
That means keeping your eyes and ears open to what’s going on elsewhere: certainly with your competition, but also with any new trends further afield that may be just over the horizon.
If you can do this, you’ll be able to keep your business performing well and always positioned competitively up alongside the leaders in your field. And that will put you in pole position to reap the business rewards such a long spell of preparation deserves.
By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses. Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.