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The Complete Guide to Taking Over an Established Business

As a female entrepreneur, you probably get a lot of conflicting information about how you “should” act. Is it OK to be assertive? Or will that make people not like you? Is it OK to be kind, or does that mean people will take advantage of you?

Accomplishing your entrepreneurial dream often starts with a tough choice: should you start a business from scratch or take over an existing one? We at She Reigns Creative are committed to helping female entrepreneurs like you make this critical decision with clarity and confidence.

Taking over an established business offers a ton of benefits. You instantly gain a proven business concept, lower operating costs, easier access to financing, and potentially valuable intellectual property. This path skips the rough startup phase, saving you time and resources by leveraging the established structures, brand identity, customer and vendor base, and a team of experienced employees.

However, there are also challenges. The tags of higher upfront purchasing costs and the need to comprehend and address existing issues in business operations, culture, or financial health cannot be ignored. Due diligence, adequate industry knowledge, legal help, and appropriate funding are necessary to smooth the transition.

We believe that understanding these pros and cons is the key first step in your journey to taking over an existing business.

infographic illustrating the pros and cons of taking over an established business - taking over an established business infographic comparison-2-items-casual

Identifying the Right Business to Take Over

Transitioning into a new role as a business owner involves many crucial decisions and one of the most important is identifying the right business to take over. This process involves aligning the business with your interests and skills, understanding the importance of the business’s location and size, and evaluating the business’s reputation and seller-customer ties.

Aligning Business with Your Passions, Interests, Skills, and Experience

As an entrepreneur, your business should be more than just a source of income. It should be a venture that you are passionate about, that aligns with your interests and utilizes your skills and experience. This alignment not only increases your chances of success but also ensures that you enjoy the journey of taking over an established business.

As our expert at She Reigns Creative, Steve Andrews, advises, you should start by listing your passions, interests, skills, and experience. Then, evaluate how these align with the potential business you are considering. This process can help you identify a business that is not just financially viable but also personally fulfilling.

Understanding the Importance of Location, Size, Industry, and Lifestyle

The location, size, industry, and lifestyle compatibility of a business are key factors to consider when identifying the right business to buy. The location should be convenient and accessible for your target market, and the size of the business should be manageable given your resources and capacity.

The industry should be one you are familiar with or willing to learn about, and the business should fit in with your lifestyle and personal commitments. As we’ve mentioned in our guide to considering a pre-established small business, these factors can significantly impact the success of your venture.

Evaluating the Business’ Reputation and Seller-Customer Ties

Before taking over an established business, it’s crucial to evaluate the business’s reputation and its ties with customers. A business with a strong reputation and loyal customer base offers a solid foundation for growth.

To evaluate this, you can go over customer reviews, check social media engagements, and even interact with some customers if possible. Understanding the business’s reputation and customer relationships will help you plan your transition strategy and set realistic expectations for the future.

evaluating business reputation - taking over an established business

Taking over an established business can be both an exciting and challenging journey. By carefully identifying the right business to take over, you set the stage for a smooth transition and a successful venture. In the next section, we’ll dive into how to find a business to purchase.

Finding a Business to Purchase

So, you’ve identified your interests, skills, and the type of business you’d like to take over. The next step in taking over an established business is finding the one that aligns with your vision. Here are some effective methods to find a business for purchase.

Utilizing Online Marketplaces and Classified Ads

The internet is a powerful tool in the search for a business. Online marketplaces such as BizBuySell offer a vast number of businesses for sale across various industries. Be sure to exercise caution and verify each listing’s legitimacy. For every great opportunity, there might be questionable ones lurking around.

Classified ads in newspapers or business-sale websites can also be helpful. These platforms provide a wide range of options from different locations and industries.

Leveraging Personal Connections and Networking

Never underestimate the power of networking. Start by letting your circle know that you’re interested in taking over an established business. You might be surprised to discover opportunities within your existing network.

Industry-specific events, conferences, and meetups can also be beneficial. They provide a platform to connect with business owners who might be considering selling their businesses.

Working with a Business Broker for Prescreening and Negotiating

If your search isn’t yielding the expected results, consider hiring a business broker. Business brokers can prescreen businesses, help identify your areas of interest, and negotiate purchase terms. Our expert, Steve Andrews, compares them to real estate agents, noting that they earn their commission only when you buy a business.

However, remember to proceed with caution. While a broker’s assistance can be invaluable, don’t let yourself be hurried into a hasty decision. A broker can help you find the right business, but the final decision always rests with you.

Business Broker - taking over an established business

Finding the right business to purchase is a critical step in taking over an established business. By utilizing online resources, leveraging personal connections, and considering professional help, you’re well on your way to becoming a business owner. In the next section, we’ll delve into how to evaluate a business before making a purchase.

Evaluating the Business

After identifying a potential business to take over, the next critical step is evaluating the business. This process involves understanding the reasons behind the sale, analyzing financial records, assessing marketing strategies, reviewing contracts and legal documents, and ensuring compliance with zoning laws and environmental regulations.

Understanding Why the Business is Up for Sale

Every business owner has a reason for selling their business. It’s crucial to uncover these reasons as they may impact your decision to purchase. Is the business owner retiring? Are they struggling with management? Or perhaps they’re just ready for a change? Understanding the motivations behind the sale can provide valuable insights into the business’s current state and future potential.

Analyzing Financial Records, Sales Records, and Accounts Receivable and Payable

Diving into the business’s financials is a critical part of the evaluation process. You’ll want to examine tax returns, balance sheets, cash flow statements, sales records, accounts receivable, and payable. As our expert, Steve Andrews, advises, “Don’t accept these financials from the sellers themselves. Make sure they have passed an audit by a certified public accountant.”

This financial analysis will reveal the business’s revenue sources, profitability, and financial health. The business doesn’t necessarily have to be profitable yet, especially if it’s a young business, but there should be a clear path to profitability.

Assessing Marketing Strategies, Advertising Costs, and Market Area

Evaluating a business also involves understanding its market position, marketing strategies, and advertising costs. This will give you insights into the competitiveness of the business, its brand value, customer base, and growth potential.

Reviewing Contracts, Legal Documents, and Incorporation Status

As part of your evaluation, you’ll want to review any outstanding agreements that the owner has with vendors or customers. You should also ask the seller for property documents, equipment/asset listing, brand assets for advertising materials, account of intellectual property assets, business insurance coverage, employee policies and contracts, incorporation information, and customer lists.

Checking Business Licenses, Permits, and Compliance with Zoning Laws and Environmental Regulations

Finally, you’ll need to ensure that the business is operating legally and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This includes checking business licenses and permits, confirming the business’s entity status, and ensuring compliance with zoning laws and environmental regulations.

Evaluating a business is a complex task but a necessary one when considering taking over an established business. By carefully examining every aspect of the business, you’ll be well-prepared to make an informed decision about your purchase. In our next section, we’ll guide you through the process of valuing a business, another crucial step in taking over an established business.

Valuing the Business

Just like buying a house, you wouldn’t want to pay more than what the business is worth. As such, valuing a business plays a key role in the process of taking over an established business. It helps you determine a fair price and makes negotiations smoother.

Different Valuation Methods for Businesses

There are several ways to value a business. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best one for you will depend on the business you’re considering and your circumstances.

Asset-based valuation is a method that involves adding up the fair market value of the business’s assets and subtracting its liabilities. This method is best suited for businesses where the assets are the primary source of income, such as real estate rental businesses.

On the other hand, market valuation estimates the business’s worth based on the selling price of similar businesses in the industry. However, finding comparable businesses can be challenging, especially for small businesses.

Lastly, income-based valuation estimates the net income the business is expected to earn over a future timeline, then calculates the present value of that future cash flow. This method is ideal for profitable businesses where you can reasonably forecast future earnings.

In some cases, a blend of two methods, such as the market and income-based approaches, can be used. It’s a complex process, so it’s advisable to consult a professional business broker or accountant who specializes in business valuations.

The Role of a Business Valuation in the Purchase Process

A business valuation isn’t just about determining a price. It provides a comprehensive overview of the business’s financial health, helping you understand its strengths and weaknesses. This understanding is essential in formulating a strategic plan for the business after you take over.

Moreover, a business valuation gives you a strong bargaining position when negotiating the purchase price. It also makes it easier to secure financing, as lenders and investors are more likely to provide funds when they know the business’s worth.

Taking over an established business isn’t just about the price. As our expert at She Reigns Creative, Steve Andrews, puts it: “Investors are more likely to invest in a company that has a solid business system in place. It guarantees them a committed customer base, a set way of doing things and a predictable revenue stream.”

In the next section, we’ll guide you through securing the capital needed for the purchase, another crucial step in taking over an established business. To ensure a smooth transition, we’ll also cover how to implement robust business systems that contribute to your business’s success. So stay tuned!

Securing Capital for the Purchase

After identifying the right business, the next critical step in taking over an established business is securing the required capital. The funds you need will depend on the size and type of business you’re acquiring. Below, we will delve into various ways to finance your business acquisition.

Personal Funds and Seller Financing

One of the most straightforward ways to finance a business purchase is by using personal or family funds. However, you must ensure not to exhaust all your cash reserves as running a business also requires capital .

Another common avenue is seller financing, where the seller agrees to accept staggered payments, acting as a lender. This arrangement provides the seller with guaranteed income over a specified period.

Partnerships, Angel Investors, and Venture Capital

Partnerships can help distribute financial responsibilities. By bringing on a partner, you can divide the costs, and you might also gain someone with a different set of skills or more specific experience.

Alternatively, you can consider angel investors or venture capital. These funding sources offer large sums of money, but they often require giving up a portion of ownership or control of the business.

Business Loans and Other Financing Options

Debt financing is another viable option when taking over an established business. Platforms like Biz2Credit, CAN Capital, and Fundera by Nerdwallet can be useful for exploring loan options. When applying for a business loan, lenders will scrutinize factors like your personal credit score, the business’s annual revenue and time in operation, tax returns, and outstanding debts among others .

Another interesting approach is to sell stock to your employees. This can significantly cut down the acquisition price, but you must remember to retain control over the business.

At She Reigns Creative, we understand that every business acquisition is unique. Our expert, Steve Andrews, is here to guide you through this process and help you find the best financing option that aligns with your goals and current financial situation.

In the upcoming sections, we will delve into the due diligence required before finalizing the deal. This is a crucial step in ensuring that you’re making a sound investment. So, stay tuned!

Conducting Due Diligence

The next vital step in taking over an established business is conducting due diligence. This process involves a comprehensive examination of the business’s financial health, regulatory compliance, and overall viability. It’s akin to getting a thorough health check-up for the business before you commit to the purchase.

Importance of Due Diligence in Buying a Business

Due diligence is not merely a cursory review, but a thorough investigation that uncovers any hidden liabilities or risks. It’s a chance to verify the information presented by the seller, from financial reports to legal documents, and ensure that everything is in order. Without this step, you risk investing in a business that may have undisclosed debts, legal issues, or operational problems.

At She Reigns Creative, we believe in the power of informed decisions. As Steve Andrews, our expert at She Reigns Creative, often says, “In business, knowledge is not only power—it’s protection.”

Assembling a Due Diligence Team: Banker, Accountant, Attorney

Navigating the complexities of due diligence can be challenging, especially if you’re new to business acquisitions. That’s why it’s crucial to assemble a team of professionals who can guide you through the process. This team should ideally include a banker, an accountant, and a business lawyer.

A banker can help assess the financial health of the business, while an accountant can delve deeper into the financial records and tax returns. A business lawyer, on the other hand, can review legal documents, licenses, and permits, and ensure the business is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

Documenting Everything and Keeping it Safe

During due diligence, you’ll come across a wealth of information about the business. It’s essential to carefully document all findings and keep them safe. This includes business licenses and permits, organizational paperwork, zoning laws, environmental regulations, and any contracts or leases.

By signing a confidentiality agreement, you agree to protect this sensitive information. It’s not just an ethical obligation—it’s a legal one.

At She Reigns Creative, we emphasize the importance of systematic and organized documentation. As Dr. Deming, a renowned expert in business development, once said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” This statement underlines the importance of a robust system in place, especially when dealing with such critical information.

Conducting due diligence may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an essential part of taking over an established business. It’s your safeguard against potential problems and your tool for making an informed decision. After all, as we always emphasize at She Reigns Creative, when it comes to business, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Closing the Deal

After performing due diligence and securing the necessary financing, the next crucial step in taking over an established business is closing the deal. This involves drafting a sales agreement and understanding essential documents such as the bill of sale, lease agreements, and asset acquisition statements.

Drafting a Sales Agreement with an Acquisitions Attorney

Once you’ve negotiated the terms and agreed on the purchase price, it’s time to put it in writing. Drafting a sales agreement is a critical step and one where the expertise of a reputable acquisitions attorney is invaluable.

The sales agreement covers all the details of the transaction, including the purchase price, terms of payment, assets included in the sale, and any warranties or representations made by the seller. It’s essential to carefully review all terms of the agreement and ensure there are no ambiguities that could cause issues at closing or after the sale.

At She Reigns Creative, we always emphasize the importance of fully understanding an agreement before signing. This document will define your relationship with the business going forward.

Understanding the Bill of Sale, Lease Agreements, and Asset Acquisition Statements

In closing the deal, you’ll also need to understand several other critical documents.

Bill of Sale: This legal document confirms the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. It includes details such as the business’s name, the date of the transaction, and the specifics of what is being sold.

Lease Agreements: If the business has leased premises or equipment, you’ll need to review and understand these lease agreements. Ensure they are transferable, and the terms are acceptable to you.

Asset Acquisition Statements: In most small business sales, the buyer is purchasing the business’s assets, not the business entity itself. An Asset Acquisition Statement lists all the assets included in the sale, from inventory and equipment to intellectual property and customer lists.

In structuring the sale, you can either opt for an asset purchase, where you buy the business’s assets, or a stock purchase, where you acquire the stock of the business, including all its assets and liabilities. Each method has its pros and cons, which should be discussed with your attorney and accountant before signing.

Closing the deal is a significant step in taking over an established business. It’s a complex process that requires careful attention to detail and expert guidance. Once the transaction is completed, you’ll be ready to transition into owning and operating your new business. As always, we at She Reigns Creative are here to support you on this exciting journey.

Transitioning into the Business

So, you’ve navigated the process of buying a business and you’re ready to start running it. This is where the real challenge begins. Transitioning into an established business is a crucial stage and it’s important to do it right. Let’s dive into some key areas you need to focus on during this process.

Adapting with the Market and Establishing Processes

One of the first things you need to do when taking over an established business is to adapt to the market. Markets are always evolving and you need to keep up. This might mean rethinking the business model, introducing new products or services, or finding new ways to reach your customers.

Equally important is to establish strong systems and processes. This can be a challenge if the business you bought did not have strong ones in place. As our expert Steve Andrews points out, lack of processes can be a major drawback if you’re buying an existing business with full-time employees. Using tools like Hackpad can be very helpful in documenting and managing your processes.

Prioritizing the Company’s Needs Over Individuals

Transitioning into a new business often means making tough decisions. Sometimes, this may involve letting go of employees who no longer fit the new direction of the business. Prioritizing the needs of the company over individuals can be hard, but it’s crucial for the success of the business. It’s not about being heartless, but about ensuring that everyone in the company is aligned with its goals and contributing meaningfully.

Learning from Challenges and Turning Around the Business

Taking over an established business can be a learning curve. You’ll face challenges and setbacks, but these can be valuable learning opportunities. Embrace these challenges and use them to grow as a business owner. Turning around a business is not an easy task. It requires hard work, resilience, and a keen understanding of the business and its market. But with patience and the right strategies, you can transform the business into a successful venture.

At She Reigns Creative, we’re committed to supporting you every step of the way. Whether it’s providing insights on adapting to market changes, helping to establish robust processes, or sharing tips on managing personnel changes, we’re here to help you succeed in taking over an established business.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey of Taking Over an Established Business

Taking over an existing business is a journey that’s filled with both challenges and opportunities. It’s a complex process that requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, and a deep understanding of business operations. At She Reigns Creative, we believe that with the right guidance and resources, you can navigate this journey successfully and turn an existing business into a thriving venture.

Firstly, remember to be patient and prepared for unexpected developments. As our topic expert, Steve Andrews, often says, “Nothing ever goes 100% according to plan. Things change.” This is an inevitable part of the business world. Being flexible and adaptable will help you overcome hurdles and seize new opportunities that come your way.

Secondly, always prioritize the needs of the company. It might be tempting to make decisions based on personal sentiments, but the long-term success of the business should always come first. As you step into your new role, you’re responsible for the well-being of the company and its stakeholders.

Thirdly, don’t hesitate to seek help. Our team at She Reigns Creative is here to support you with resources, guidance, and expert advice. Whether you’re struggling with the transition process or need advice on financial management, we’re ready to help.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Buying and taking over an established business is a unique experience that comes with its own set of rewards. You’re not just buying a business—you’re stepping into a legacy. You’re getting the chance to grow an existing brand, serve a loyal customer base, and make a significant impact in your industry.

In conclusion, taking over an existing business is a big step, but it’s one that can lead to great success with the right approach. By understanding the process, planning carefully, and leveraging the right resources, you can transition smoothly into your new role and lead the business to new heights.

At She Reigns Creative, we’re committed to supporting you on this exciting journey. For more tips and advice on running a successful business, check out our blog and our resources page.

Embrace the journey, we’re here to help you reign supreme in your business endeavors.

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