Buying a Business For Dummies
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From searching for a business to buy, getting your finances in order to managing and marketing and everything in between, the world of small business can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you’re thinking about buying and running a business, check out the following list of tips to improve your chances of success.

Tips for buying and running a successful business

  1. Realize that not everyone is cut out to be a small-business owner. Take the time to explore whether you’re compatible with running your own business. Some people are happier (and better off financially) on the other end of a paycheck.
  2. Get your personal finances in order. Before you jump into the entrepreneurial fray, get your own money matters squared away. Understand the approximate cost of businesses you’re considering buying and how you will finance the purchase.
  3. Pick your niche. Take stock of your skills, interests, and employment history to select the business best suited to you. Choosing a niche that you can be passionate about will help improve your chances of succeeding. Searching among several possible different types of business to buy can help you decide which one may be best for you.
  4. Negotiate and seal the deal. Assemble an offer and negotiate the price and terms of the deal with the help of competent and ethical professional advisors.
  5. Move into your business. Get up to speed on all facets of the business, and prepare to make your mark and improvements.
  6. Plan a growth trajectory. Develop your business plan for how you expect to manage and grow your business in the short and long term.
  7. Know which hats you wear best. In the early months and years of running your acquired business, you’ll have to acquire many skills. Gain the background you need to oversee all the facets of your business, but also determine which tasks you should outsource or leave to others to manage.
  8. Remember that sales are what drive your business. You need a clear marketing plan that details how you intend to package, promote, distribute, price, and sell your product or service.
  9. Pay attention to your customers. No matter how busy you are, especially in your first years running a business, be sure to spend at least 25 percent of your time with customers. The best way to satisfy your customers is not by selling them products or services but by providing solutions to their problems. Understand the difference and market your products and services accordingly.
  10. Keep in mind that quality takes only moments to lose and years to regain. Quality isn’t a destination but rather a never-ending journey. After you’ve strayed from quality’s path, your journey may be sidetracked forever.
  11. Put profitability first and rewards second. Beware of the small business that treats itself to hefty salaries, high-priced consultants, and waterfalls in the lobby. In small business, profitability must come first. To understand profitability, you must first measure your cash flow and understand your key financial ratios.
  12. Retain and hire superstars. If you intend to oversee a growing business, your number one duty is to retain and hire a team of superstar employees in your game-breaker positions. Game-breaker positions are key positions, such as the president/CEO (that’s you), the financial person, the sales manager, the marketing manager, the production manager, the office manager, the purchasing agent, the art director, and so on, that will make or break your company.
  13. Don’t go it alone. Tap into resources, such as small-business peers, mentors, and trade associations, that can help take some of the energy-draining trial and error out of running your business. And be sure to tap into the knowledge of the previous owner of the business you buy as well as the employees!
  14. Remember that vendors are partners, too. A good vendor is as important to your business as a good customer. Treat your vendors like customers and watch the partnerships grow.
  15. Make use of benefits. The most valuable long-term benefit you can offer yourself and your employees is a retirement savings plan. In addition, understand the value of the insurance and other benefits you provide and reduce your tax bill at the same time.
  16. Pay attention to all small-business-related regulatory issues. Federal, state, and local government agencies require an array of licenses, registrations, and permits. Obey them or face stiff penalties, including possible closure of your business.
  17. Know the tax laws. Invest in understanding tax issues that affect your small business. You can avoid trouble and, at the same time, legally slice thousands of dollars off your tax bill if you know the ins and outs of small-business tax law.
  18. Keep your focus on the people. Whatever happens to a small business happens at the hands of the people who work for it. When you move into your newly acquired business, get to know the people who work there, and introduce any changes you’re planning that will affect them.
  19. Fast, good, or cheap — pick any two. Serious trouble awaits those business owners who attempt to be all things to the marketplace. Focus on what you do best.
  20. Develop a passion for learning. As your business changes and grows, you need to change and grow along with it — particularly as you transition to manager. The one common denominator you find in all successful business owners is a passion for learning.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Eric Tyson is a recognized personal finance counselor, writer, and lecturer. Tyson has been featured on and quoted in hundreds of publications and media outlets.

Bob Carlson is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fairfax Country Employees’ Retirement System.

Eric Tyson, MBA is a nationally-recognized personal finance counselor, writer, and best-selling author of Personal Finance For Dummies. Jim Schell is an accomplished serial entrepreneur, nonprofit founder, and executive. He spent twenty-five years as an entrepreneur and thirty years as a nonprofit founder and executive. Eric and Jim are co-authors of Small Business For Dummies.

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