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If you are thinking about buying a business, you must have lots of questions. Of course, you should get some help with this process — from your banker, your attorney, your accountant, and possibly a business broker. But no one wants to sail into any of these conversations without a little background first, so here is our list (consider this a work in progress) of must-reads. These may be really helpful resources:

  • If you are just beginning to think about buying a business,
  • Are considering a franchise,
  • Want to figure how to finance a purchase,
  • Need to know more about how to evaluate an opportunity,
  • Are baffled by tax consequences, or
  • Want to know what a business broker can do for you.

For Those Just Getting Started

7 tips for buying a business.  Joseph Anthony offers a brief and very readable overview of the big issues.

How to Buy a Business.  Far more encyclopedic, this article analyzes how to make the right choice of a business, due diligence, valuation and financing options.  Give yourself a good uninterrupted 30 minutes.

Buying a Business — When a Stock Purchase May Be Better. Most small business purchases are asset purchase, but there are limited circumstances when a stock purchase may be better for the buyer.

 What About a Franchise?

Buying a Franchise: A Consumer Guide. The Federal Trade Commission offers a very complete view of the process.

Franchise How-To Guides.  From Entrepreneur magazine, this is also comprehensive enough to have its own five-part index, but should answer many basic questions.

How to Select a Franchise. The Wall Street Journal article offers some criteria for evaluating franchises and very usefully links to directories of franchise opportunities.

How to Find the Money

Buying Existing Businesses.  Since the U.S. Small Business Administration plays such a huge role in small business finance, this may be the first resource to look at.

How To: Price and Finance a Business Purchase.  Darren Dahl offers insight on a number of different financing approaches, including seller financing. He also offers good tips on negotiating a price.

How to Finance a Business Purchase.  For those who like checklists, this is particularly comprehensive. Mark Smock also takes a look at some less traditional financing sources.

How to Finance a Franchise Purchase.  Commercial banks may be more open to lending for a franchise purchase, but the author also explores the potential for SBA funding and financing with retirement plan resources.

Is This a Good Opportunity?

Buying a Business Checklist.  This is a list of all the information you should collect as part of your due diligence. This information is divided into four categories:  Business Financial Affairs, Enterprise/Operational, Personnel and Market and Industry Information.

How to Find a Business to Buy.  Darren Dahl again offers some particularly good tips toward the end of the article about how to interview the seller.

Buying a Business: Due Diligence Checklist.  This checklist focuses more thoroughly on the documents you should review.

What About Taxes?

Tax Implications of Buying a Business.  Rene Agredano outlines the tax implications of buying a business, not as a guide for the do-it-yourselfer, but to provide the basis for a sensible discussion with your tax attorney.

Tax Implications of Selling or Buying a Business. This business broker blog post describes the different tax treatment of different kinds of assets and sets up a nice chart outlining seller and purchaser consequences.

What Can a Business Broker Do for Me?

Brokers – How They can Help You   Business brokers generally work for the seller, but they can be very helpful to the buyer, as sell.  Richard Parker outlines how a broker can help a buyer find listings, act as the go-between with a seller and handle paperwork.

What You Should Know About Working With Business Brokers.  Darren Dahl offers some tips about how to evaluate a broker.

Many of these resources provide good general background on a number of issues for buyers, but we have tried to highlight areas in which the perspective offered is particularly valuable.

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