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Starting / Business startup

Buying a business? Ask this big question

Before buying an existing business, ask yourself this one, big question. It could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

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The big question is: Will it make me happy? 

If your business won’t make you happy, it’s less likely to be a success. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you buy a coffee shop because you love sitting around drinking coffee. I’m talking about doing some serious visualisation and personal investigation into how the new business will affect you, your lifestyle, your health and your family. 

To help answer the big question, ask these smaller ones. 

What will my role be? 

When buying a business, think about what your role will be, and whether you’ll enjoy the responsibilities of that role. 

As a soloist you will be doing a large portion of the billable hours yourself. If you’re a micro business owner, perhaps you’ll be managing a team or focussing on selling. Whatever the case may be, make sure you have a clear understanding of the role you’ll be undertaking. Remember that even if you buy a beautifully automated, well organised business, you’ll still need to take on a role to keep it running smoothly. 

"Picture yourself 12 months down the track getting ready for work. Do you have a spring in your step?"

Who will I be working with? 

Working solo, managing a team, securing contractors or hiring freelancers has its challenges. Whatever the situation is, will you be comfortable and confident enough to work on your own or manage others? 

Do I know the tools of the trade? 

If you don’t know the tools of your trade, you’ll likely be at the mercy of support staff or technicians. If you don’t have the technical knowledge, you’ll need to learn it quickly. 

As a simple example, let’s imagine you are thinking about buying a coffee shop. What will you do if the coffee machine doesn’t switch on one morning? Will you try to fix the problem yourself, or call an expert? These are important issues to consider. 

How well do I know the industry? 

A common piece of advice from guru investors is that you shouldn’t invest in a business you don’t understand. This goes triple for a business you’re buying outright. Remember, there is a big difference between being trained to run a business, and being trained to operate within an industry. 

How will it affect me personally? 

Think about the physical aspects and logistics of the role. Where is the business located? How do you get there? How long will the hours be? Can you work from home? Will you have time to exercise? Picture yourself 12 months down the track getting ready for work. Do you have a spring in your step? 

All the physical aspects of your working life will affect your psychological aspects. If you are happy, healthy and comfortable in your environment, then life will be a lot easier and your business is likely to be more successful. 

The big question 

The biggest advantage of buying an existing business is that you can see exactly what you’re getting into. So before you start crunching the numbers, ask yourself: “Will this business make me happy?” 

What sort of questions would you ask before buying an existing business? Are you happy in yours?

Tristan Boyd

is a professional beach volleyball coach on the FIVB world tour, and an experienced business owner and internet entrepreneur.

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