You are 55 and your employer of 15 years tells you that the company is going in another direction and your services are no longer needed. Suddenly, that six-figure salary you were receiving is gone. What are you going to do? Finding another well-paying job will not be easy and the thought of an extended job search is unappealing. Maybe you should create your own job and buy a business?
You are 30, in your prime, and ready to conquer the world. At work, you still feel like a small fish in a big sea. One day you realize that this is not the life you want so you give your notice in anticipation of something better. Buying a business will make you the big fish and gives you the opportunity to control your own destiny.
No matter what reason you may have for wanting to buy a business, you should take your time before making this decision and ultimately offering up a lot of money to purchase an existing business. First, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you sure you want to own your own business?
- How much time are you willing and able to devote to running it?
- Is the risk worth taking if it means giving up a high-paying job?
- How will it affect your family?
It is easy to get caught-up in the emotion and excitement of the moment and make hasty decisions. To be sure you are not paying too high of a price, and are getting into the right market, you should understand the real value of the company you are interested in purchasing.
A business appraisal provides you with a supportable estimate of the company's fair market value. It serves as a reference point for making an initial offer and makes it easier to negotiate a final sale price.
How are Business Appraisals Completed?
- A business valuation starts with a conversation or communication with a business appraisal company. It provides an opportunity for you to give some basic information about your intended company to the appraiser who, in turn, will talk to you about the valuation process. You should feel comfortable that the company you are talking to has the expertise and experience to qualify as a certified business appraiser.
- The next step is to get a quote for your company's valuation. The amount you are quoted is based on the things you discussed during your initial consultation. Among the things that can affect the amount of the quote are the size of your company, the detail of the appraisal, and the length of time it will take to complete the appraisal project.
- Once you get the quote, you are under no obligation to have the appraisal done. You are not penalized for changing your mind. If you accept the quote and want to proceed, you will need to sign an engagement agreement which then commits you to the valuation effort to be put forth by the appraiser. In many cases, the current business owner will be willing to cover a share of the costs to complete the work.
- You will then be asked to complete a business questionnaire and submit prior tax returns and/or financial statements. Most owners who are anxious to sell their business will provide the necessary documentation about their company so a company valuation can be done. If you express serious interest in buying a company, and the owner will not provide tax returns and other financial documentation, be suspicious. It may be an indication that the owner is asking more for the company is really worth.
- Assuming that you are given access to the financial records of the company you are looking to acquire; the data and information is analyzed by the appraiser and a valuation report is generated. After receiving the report, you can discuss the results with your business appraiser.
- You are now ready to make effective decisions and negotiate a reasonable sale of the company you may be running in the very near future.