Which is Better, Investing or Owning a Business?
Whether you are starting your own business from scratch, going into a business opportunity, or buying a business, you need to have certain characteristics, traits, skills, and goals in order to succeed. So how do you know if you are ready to own a business? Basically, you need to ask yourself some hard questions and give yourself honest answers. If you don’t have the time and commitment to start a business, you need to look elsewhere for your income. You may be better served accepting a job with a company. There are those that need structure and a job is the place for them. But, if you are inclined to owning your own business, then lets discuss some necessary items. First, you need to have a plan. The plan can come from your own imagination, the franchisor, or the company offering the business opportunity. It doesn’t have to be something set in stone, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be a basic outline of what your business will be, what you will sell, how you will sell it, and what your operating costs will be. It is recommended that you include at least three months of operating expenses into your start up costs budget, which also needs to be determined in your plan. The next item is paramount to your success. It is the infamous 4 letter word and that is work.
On the face of it, it should be a lot less risky now than it used to be to buy a business from a stranger. Most (but not all) States and Governments in the developed world have brought in stringent disclosure rules which aim to even things up between the supposedly rapacious seller and the innocent purchaser.Certainly these rules will expose or prevent blatant fraud and misrepresentation, but they can also lull you into a false sense of security. The very worst thing you can think is "Oh well, if the figures don't turn out right I'll just take them to court and sue the pants off them".If you're stuck with a dud business as a result of being deliberately deceived you certainly can take them to court. But you don't need me to tell you of the costs of litigation, the time it takes (years!), and the very real chance you may not succeed anyway.And in the meantime you have to spend your days desperately running a business that may not generate enough to cover these legals. Remember also that lawyers will only take on work on a contingency basis when they think their chances of success are pretty good. It's way, way better to get it right in the first place.Even though most sellers usually turn out in the end to be nice ordinary honest people, I as a valuer always look at them and their businesses with a suspicious mind, and you should too. Because the truth of the matter is that they know far more about the business and what is happening in the industry than you do, and they are quite within their rights to not tell you everything. If you don't ask, you may not find out until it's too late. "Caveat Emptor" is the Latin for "Let the Buyer Beware" and it is still true today despite all the well-meaning but bureaucratic attempts to shield you. Some of the traps I have listed in this and following articles may be legislated against in some jurisdictions and others may have to be disclosed by the vendor. But it pays to know about them anyway.I'll give you these tips roughly in the sequence in which I would check them out. Let me tell you now that everything is wrong with the business I select, but of course I don't know that when I start out. And if it were real I would walk away very early in the piece.I have chosen a retail business to illustrate these traps, but most of them apply equally to service and manufacturing businesses. I have not specified what type of retail business it is, for very good reasons.First, the facts and figures have been made up and do not represent any particular type of business. Second, the same type of business can be totally different in the way it operates and in its risk level from one country to another and even from state to state. Third, I would not want to give any type of business the bad name that this (imaginary) one deserves.So let's assume it is a general type of retail business and call it the GRB (General Retail Business) Shop. Let's also assume that it is a reasonably secure type of business, though somewhat sensitive to competitionLocation is paramount for retail and most service businesses (though the internet is changing that) but less so for manufacturing enterprises.The business broker gives me a half dozen businesses to look at. I select one that seems to be in the right price range - the asking price is $230,000 plus S.A.V. (Stock, (or Inventory) at Value) - and not too far from home. So I pay a visit.It's in a small suburban shopping mall that looks about 20 years old. The mall is busy for early Monday morning, which is a good sign. The shop is well located within the mall with good traffic flow and prominent signage, but is a little bit tired in appearance. A quick check shows it is the only one of its type in the mall. The owners seem friendly and cooperative. I ask if they do home deliveries. They do and take me for a ride around the area covered. There is a new housing estate going up close by which they say will increase business in the future, and the next nearest business of its type is some distance away.Trap 1. Not Being Told of Known Competitor Plans:I leave and decide to have another look at the housing estate. At the far end of it I discover a large sign announcing the imminent construction of a mega shopping mall with a GRB type of business already signed up. So the business is under threat from new competition nearby.The message here is, don't just check the location, check what is happening in the area. Talk to other shopkeepers, talk to locals, visit the council, and look at the demographics to see if they match the market for your products or services. There may be a new highway going through in five years time resulting in a property resumption, or a diversion of traffic away from your site - or it could be good news as well.
Buying a Business - Steps
Lots of people have the dream of owning their own business, but they get bogged down in the details of how to go about it. While this article isn't meant to serve as a complete business start-up guide, it will give you an idea of some steps to take.1.EntitiesThe two most important professionals you will need to begin are a lawyer and an accountant. The lawyer can help you decide if you want to be a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or some other type of company. A good accountant can help you make the decision based on what will be most advantageous for you from a tax angle. Your lawyer can also help you register your business and get the licenses and permits you need.2.Make a Business PlanYou need to get a business professional to help you writ a business plan. You will need one to help you get organized and to help keep your goal in mind. This could be anything from serving hot dogs to people outside your home to providing technical support. Either way, you need a plan that sketches out how to proceed and an estimate of how much money you will need. 3.Get FinancingHow much start-up money will you need? Do you have the savings? Do you have friends who would want to invest? Do you need a Loan? Whatever your plan is, you will need to present a copy of your business plan to bankers or investors if you need to loan money to get the company rolling.4.A Record-keeping SystemA good accountant can advise you on the best record keeping software for your business, and help you set up a system for keeping track of payables, receivables, sales tax, payroll, employee benefits, and so forth. You will rely on the accountant for at least your yearly return, and possibly for quarterly payroll and sales tax returns. Your accountant can also get you an EIN number (Employer Identification Number).5.LocationDepending on your business, location may be important. If you are not going to run it from your own home, location can make or break you - and the rent is due no matter which way the tables turn. You will also need to get a phone, get the utilities turned on, install your furniture and equipment, and get a sign or two.6.Accounts with Credit Card CompaniesYou will need to invest in a method for checking the validity of debit and credit cards.7.EmployeesYou may not need to do this step if you are a one-person operation. Maybe you can get by with just one part-time person to answer phones and do some paperwork. It just depends on your business. You will need to have them complete various forms for the IRS, and you may want to run a background check. 8.Promote your BusinessDecide how you will let people know you exist, what you can do for them, and why they should come to you. You may want to advertise on TV, have a radio commercial, newspaper ads, flyers, and coupons.The list might make you think twice about starting a business of your own. But, you can do it without all the headaches of traditional business. There is a very simple way of attaining the goal that has worked for millions of people. The best part of exploring home-based business opportunities is that there is little risk and the upside is tremendous. Many of the pressures of the traditional business are wiped away with the home business.
Buying a Business - The Best Or a Fixer Upper?
If you'd like to be "set for life" as the owner of a multi-million dollar business -- sitting back and collecting a six-figure salary while other people (who have several years of business experience) "run" everything for you -- then this article will show you how.Listen to this: I've bought over 200 businesses in the past 40 years. In the first 25 of those years, I got owner financing. I got bank financing. I had vendor financing. I did all sorts of things. But, what happened was, I didn't realize there was investor financing. I actually discovered this on complete accident because I needed financing to buy a business in Mexico.You see, nobody was going to finance anything in Mexico. Even today, they won't. So, I had to go back to the investors we had and talk to them. I didn't even realize they would do something like this. So I just sort of lucked into this. And now, for the last 25 years, we have never gone to the bank other than for a line of credit. We don't ask for owner financing. We pay 100% cash on the deal which means the seller gives us a better price than a small cash price. We don't have to qualify. We don't have to give our financial statements. We don't have to do anything. In fact, the average seller will tell you they don't care who you are or what you are if you give them all cash. So what happens is, if you bring an investor in, as opposed to all the other types of financing, it's a lot easier way to go.The other thing with an investor is most of them will ride with you for four or five years. In other words, if you show them what their share of the profits are going to be for four or five years, many of these investors do not ask you to pay a return every month or every quarter, which means you have all the cash available in the business for a four or five year period to expand it. It's really a fantastic way to go, but I want to tell you for the first 25 years, it never dawned on me because I didn't know how to find investors.But now, that's what I use almost exclusively. And I find it's not only cheaper (almost free), but it allows me to buy more businesses and have less work. Reason why is because investors will only put up money for businesses worth a million dollars or more, with an experienced management team already in place. Which means, if you show up, you're almost in the way. The management team you're paying doesn't want you there mucking things up. They would rather you be out playing golf or something. It's a great way -- the only way -- to do business. If you want to pull your hair out buying sandwich franchises and "mom and pop" donut shops, that's your choice. But I'm here to tell you from 40 years of experience buying businesses, it's actually faster, easier and cheaper to buy large, multi-million dollar businesses, where your only real "job" is to cash the checks.
Buying a Business - Steps