“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know”, Alice answered. “Then”, said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
I’ve written about this before, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people really don’t know where they want to go when it comes time to buying a business. Entrepreneurs know that they want to get into / back into / change gears in their business ownership life, but they don’t quite know where they want to go. Maybe they’ll take a chance on a company and go into a hot industry, or perhaps there will be a passion play to save an outlet they used to go to when they were a child or a completely different motivator.
But if you ask these individuals why they were first interested in a business for sale, their immediate response could very well be, “I don’t know”. The subsequent phraseology may be carefully rehearsed or off the cuff, but either way it’s that first utterance that is troubling. Why? Because there is an immediate feeling of lack of engagement, one that may be quickly picked up by staff, suppliers and / or customers. If we’re not passionate about what we’re doing, it’s going to show in our approach to work, and when you’re an entrepreneur, you need to have that passion or you stand a higher chance of your new venture failing, or at least you will be failing yourself.
If the purpose of being entrepreneurs was simply to make money, the business you buy would be a simple choice – the one where you will make money fastest. As business consultant Andrew Patricio of BizLaunch.ca said to me once – if you just want a lucrative business, sell drugs to school children. You can make a six figure income without working full time!
Now for most for most of us law-abiding citizens, we need to narrow the focus down further, and the best place to start is with yourself.
This is where you have to look inward and see where your passion and capabilities lie. Consider these questions as you prepare to look for a business to buy:
- Do you have the skills to be successful in the industry you are going into?
- What work experience do you have? Is it in line with the business you are looking at or is it a far departure?
- What do you enjoy doing? Is a business available within your passions?
- Do you enjoy dealing with the public? Are you ready to be the face of your business?
Whatever it is – accounting, auto repair, writing, or retail sales, your best bet is to find a business in a field you already know – and one where potential customers already know you.
Once you understand these things, you can start to make an intelligent, informed decision on a business.