I look forward to reading more articles on buying and selling a business. (HJ 2012;65:16; http://bit.ly/HJOctCover2012.) As a buyer of a hearing aid business six years ago, I also learned some important lessons. After all these years, I still question the actual “value” of the business. A suggestion that I should have explored at the time of the sale was to leave a portion (one-quarter to one-third) of the business value contingent on success after three to five years.
The picture painted during the sale may not be an honest representation of the business model or on the sustainability based on that model and the surrounding economic situation. Secondly, if the previous owner wants to stay involved, fine. But have him take a six-month hiatus after three to six months of you taking over the business despite the comfort of working together. Be firm about your own perception of the business model. That may be what is needed to help the business grow beyond what is already there. Networking helps, but it can also be a distraction and drain time and resources.
Lastly, watch your marketing dollars. It can be an occasional plus but also a drain on precious resources. Advertising methods are never 100 percent successful all of the time. Diversify with healthy skepticism, and be mindful of what is being offered or “sold” to you. They, too, are trying to make a living, with no guarantees and at your expense. You learn something new almost every day. Prepare for some sleepless nights and some enjoyable days!