Buying a business is an important step and a life changing experience. Checking the financials of a business is the first step of course when making a decision to purchase. Ensuring that there is adequate cash flow to support the business, support you as the owner, and pay off the debt service in a reasonable amount of time makes sense. But the next step that is at least equally important is making sure that the business is the right fit for you, the new owner. Make sure that you wake up in the morning say to yourself “I get to go to work today” not “I have to go to work today.”
Determining that the business is the right fit for you is different from person to person. If you’ve been in the auto mechanics business all of your life, then owning a muffler shop or a quick lube might be tailor made for your personality and life style. But, if you are thinking of buying a pizza parlor and have never worked in food service before, that’s almost life buying a three piece suit without ever trying it on, or a new Mercedes without taking it for a test drive first.
If the business is new to you, then work in it for a while before you make your decision. If you’ve picked a business out that you are interested in, tell the seller your offer is contingent upon first working in the business with him for 30 days to determine that the fit is right. If you haven’t picked a business out yet and are just curious about an industry, nothing replaces getting an entry level job in that industry to get a feel for it.
If you buy a business you’ll own it for years to come, and perhaps for the rest of your life. Making sure that you truly enjoy what you are doing is the real American dream, so take the business for a test drive.