Unless you are in the market for an investment opportunity, buying a business is not about examining a set of financial statements and acquiring a long list of assets. It is about your life.
Before you start looking at specific businesses, perhaps you should prepare an opportunity plan.
What skills do you already have? If you’ve spent your working life up to now behind a desk, construction or landscaping might not be what you’re looking for—unless that’s one of the reasons you’re ready for a change. You want a more active lifestyle. You’re tired of being cooped up inside. Or maybe you fully intend to hire all the labor done and still plan to hang out behind a desk. You just want more independence.
What industries dictate a lifestyle most like the lifestyle you are hoping to achieve when you make changes? A retail store you will operate mostly yourself isn’t probably the best business for you if you’re making changes because you hope to have for time to coach your daughter’s softball team and the normal store hours are 9 am to 9 in the evening, six days a week, 11 am to 6 pm on Sundays.
There is no formula for deciding the kind of business that will best match your wants and needs, but there are some opportunities you may want to look at more closely or eliminate if you answer some basic questions about the kind of working (and leisure) life you want.
A well established business that is at the height of its success with plenty of money coming in if you just continue to do what the current owner is doing may be out of your reach if you have more energy and desire than you have financial resources. But a business that has barely scratched the surface of its potential because the current owner has done very little marketing may have a price that’s right if your forte is marketing.
Once you get past the ‘how much can I spend question,’ sincerely evaluate how hard you want to work, whether you want a challenge or prefer fairly predictable days. Do you like managing other people or are you ready to escape those kinds of interactions and depend mostly on yourself? Do you enjoy interacting with your customers on an hourly or even minute to minute basis? Or do you prefer an industry where your public contact is minimal?
If you are certain of what you want in the next stage of your life, go for it. But if the only thing you are sure of is that you want to be in business for yourself at a price you can afford, maybe it is time to make a strategic summary of what you want your life to look like while you operate that business.
You might find that a business doing something you hadn’t even considered might be exactly what you are looking for. It might be the perfect opportunity to provide the life you see in your dreams.