Is Business Ownership Right for You?
Is business ownership right for you?
The reality of the current downturn in the economy is that many companies will need to restructure to create the private sector jobs President Obama is talking about. At the time of writing this article, there is 7.2% unemployment or the good news, 92.8% full employment. That’s good news if you’re one of the 92.8% but bad news if you’re one of the 7.2%. And these are national figures so if you live in some States in the US the unemployment rate is higher.
Regardless of your local unemployment statistics, if you have lost your job or are concerned your company may downsize but you need to make some money to put a roof over your head, feed the family, buy the gas to get around plus all the other things you need to do in life, perhaps you are thinking it’s time to get off the employment rollercoaster. This means putting yourself in control so you can work the hours you want, work in an industry you want to be part of and ultimately be in control of your own destiny. If that makes sense, what are your options?
The three options of business ownership
If you think business ownership may be an option for you, there are basically three choices. Option one is to start your own business. This means you have to come up with a creative new idea, test it to make sure there is a commercial market for your idea, and then once you get enough feedback, build and execute a business plan. This plan not only needs to ensure you make enough money to pay the costs of running your business and personal needs but also cover any debt you’ve incurred while you created, tested and deployed your idea.
Option two is to buy an existing business that has any of the following three goals. Your first goal could be to find a business that’s not doing well, determine the reason it is underperforming and then put in place the changes to have the business head in a positive direction. Your second goal could be to look for a business that’s holding its own and simply take the place of the existing owner with the expectation of enjoying the lifestyle of this business owner. The third goal could be to look for a business that’s growing well but bring your skill set, new energy, and capital and either continue the growth of the business or considerably add to it.
The third and final option is to buy the rights to a new franchise. Just so I am clear, you could always buy an existing franchise and continue its current ownership but this is really a variation of option two above. New franchises are appearing on the market all the time in a diverse range of industries and formats.
At last count I had franchises in 84 different industries such as accounting, automotive, animals/pets, beauty care, building materials, children’s education, clothing, transportation, travel, upholstery and wholesale, etc while the formats range from Business to Business (B2B), Retail, or home-based to name a few.
The option of buying a new franchise tends to appeal to those who have worked in Corporate America but decide to look elsewhere for their future. The best advantage of a franchise for a new business owner is that it brings a system or business model that has had the wrinkles ironed out; similar to the model used in Corporate America. The franchisor has proven the business model,fine-tuned the systems, built the training for the franchisee, knows what accounting systems to use and has these up and running and is looking to re-create these business models across the US and often into Canada and Mexico, and around the world.
If you’re deciding whether business ownership is right for you, one of your most important evaluations will concern risk. We see this everyday with how we handle our money. We know we need an account to pay our bills and often use a checking/savings account combination.
The money is very safe (backed by the US Government) and available whenever we need it. Because this money is needed for virtually immediate use our risk tolerance is very low. With that need taken care of our next decision involves putting aside excess capital that hopefully stays ahead of inflation but is only tied up for the short term of say 6 months to 2 years. For this option we look to CDs, Bonds or Treasuries which we also know are safe and meet our low risk tolerance.
We also understand the importance of another form of investing and that’s regularly putting retirement money into a 401K plan or similar which is money invested for the long term of 10 years or more. We know this money is at a higher risk as it fluctuates in value on a daily basis with movements in the stock exchange. For this higher risk, we require a higher return on investment.
With those needs addressed, and if we have any additional spare money, we then look at other longer term investing options which includes buying shares in the stock market, buying corporate bonds, playing the foreign currency markets, trading commodities or some other form of investment we know and handle ourselves or pay a financial advisor to manage for us.
The bottom line is that you have many options with the final option you choose to make based on your risk tolerance. When deciding whether to start your own business, buy an existing business or buy the rights to a franchise, the level of risk will be one of the major decisions you need to evaluate. Your comfort with which option to choose will also depend on a number of variables. These include how much money you have to invest, the skill set the business requires and how closely this matches yours.
Another major factor includes your financial status. Do you need to borrow, what is the condition of your credit score and, is your credit report acceptable to a lender? It may also ensure your background doesn’t preclude you from business ownership due to a criminal record or other circumstance.
What’s the next step?
If you’ve read the above and think business ownership is right for you or you would like to know more, your next steps are to become more educated so when you get to make that final decision whether you will or will not go into business ownership, you have as much information as possible.
For this reason, I have written three guides to help those considering business ownership. These guides are respectively called – Successfully Start Your Business, Successfully Buy Your Business and Successfully Buy Your Franchise: Expert Advice from a Business Broker. I’ve personally been in business ownership for 25 + years having owned and operated 5 businesses; two in my native Australia and now three in California. I still remember the fear and sleepless nights deciding whether to buy my first business and relocate to a new city with my 6 months pregnant wife. But as I look back, business ownership provides a wonderful set of experiences and skills I would never have known if I didn’t recognize and manage the risk that comes with business ownership.
There is no question; business ownership is not for everybody. But business ownership is a skill to acquire and once it’s acquired brings about opportunities those working a job never see. Plus one of the rewards to it all is that it puts you in control so when you go through recessions you have the capacity to succeed.
Importance of your Buyer Profile
Before you start looking at business ownership, know your Buyer Profile so it reduces your chance of failure or giving up because you are burnt out from the process. For most new business owners, naturally enough their goal is to find the perfect business. This makes sense but it only makes sense if you know what you want but I also think “perfect” is too high a standard. Businesses are dynamic and constantly changing. This is because it is primarily dealing with people, whether they are owners, family members, customers, employees, lenders, landlords or government agencies. Look for what you want, but make sure your criteria is not too high.
So how do you know what business to look for?
The answer to this question is by building and creating your personal Buyer Profile. Most buyers are not sure where to start the process. From my experience from buying and looking at many businesses and working with a large number of new or potential business owners the first step is to start with yourself. Most buyers don’t do it because they don’t know what they are looking for and expect it will reveal itself to them as they start their search process. If this is what you choose to do it will increase your chances of failure as there is no such thing as the perfect business plus each buyers profile is unique. It is unique because there are so many variables.
The variables include levels of education, amount of downpayment to buy a business, credit scores, credit report, business and life experiences, management experience, family support, personal situation such as being single or married with 4 children to support and most important of all, the location where you live and the opportunities available. If you come to your decision to look at business ownership and you are fresh out of college your frame of reference is really the subjects you studied in college and your life and business experiences. If you’re a 40 year old executive who has worked in Corporate America in the technology field for the last 10 years as a sales manager, but in your earlier years worked in retail books and the travel industry, you have much more diversity to pull from.
Your Buyer Profile is a critical starting point for you. I normally spend about two hours with each client before introducing any business opportunities to them as I want to get a basic level of understanding of the industries of interest to them and their preferred format such as whether they like retail, Business to Business (B2B), Food, Automotive or, Children’s services etc plus an extensive range of other questions. If the buyer knows what they do and don’t like it allows them to focus and thereby greatly increase their chances of finding the business they want.
If you would like more information about each of the books mentioned above, please visit the following website http://www.successfullybuyyourbusiness.com where you will find a brief description of each of the guides. If you would like some free tools to work with, please visit my website: Free documents. On this page, there are some Excel and Word files such as a Business Plan, Sales and Marketing plan, Startup Budget planner and Cash flow projection etc. Download and use these free tools as much as you need.
The rewards to business ownership for each person are unique and real. If you think business ownership right now with the economy in recession is not a good option, I would disagree. The economy is constantly changing and looking for new ways to invest capital and provide a return on investment. Some areas of the economy are about to explode such as health care, businesses in energy efficiency, the “green” industry and, new technology innovations to name a few. It will take time to research, create and execute a plan and then explore any other options available to you. Making the decision to take the risk is the hardest part. Once that is done, the rest takes care of itself. If you think business ownership is part of your future, learn as much as you can, accept it comes with risk and get on with it as the rest will be up to you. Whether you stay in your current job, find a different job because you aren’t enjoying what you are doing or move into business ownership, at the end of the day it’s still all up to you and how you manage the risks that come from each decision you make.
If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch with me for a quick consultation. We’ll discuss your particular business, what’s important to you and make a plan for those first few steps. Successfully Buy Your Business