You might decide to buy an existing furniture business rather than start your own venture from scratch. Buying a going concern can mean that:
- the premises, machinery and equipment are already in place
- there may be established designs and patterns, product lines, jigs and manufacturing processes
- there are established customers
- the business can generate income immediately
- suppliers have been identified and relationships established with them
- the business has a reputation and a track record, which can help if you are looking for finance
- staff may already be in place
However, look critically at any business that you are interested in to make sure that the price you negotiate with the seller is a fair one. Try to establish why the business is for sale - for example, is the owner keen to retire or is there another personal reason for selling up.
Your market research into the sector as a whole and, if you are planning to serve local markets, the locality in particular will help you to establish whether or not the owner is selling because he or she can no longer generate enough income from the business. This may not necessarily deter you - many business people are confident that they can turn a failing business around. The important thing is to have established the current position so that the price you pay for the business is not too high.
Other matters to consider include:
- the state of the premises, machinery, equipment and so on. Will you have to spend money refurbishing or replacing assets
- the condition and value of any stock you are buying such as completed items, timber and other raw materials. Check this over carefully before agreeing a price
- is the existing owner prepared to give you some training after you take over
- existing staff rights
- how to retain key personnel once you've taken over
- does the business owe money that you will be responsible for
- does the business have any outstanding orders that you will be responsible for fulfilling
- are there any unresolved disputes with customers
- if you are paying for goodwill, to what extent does this depend on the skills, reputation and personality of the seller
Ask your accountant to look critically at the business accounts for the past three years and discuss with him or her the selling price in the light of what the accounts reveal. Make sure you budget for other professional fees such as legal fees and valuation and survey costs.