Buying a business

Mark ColmanDespite the persistently tough economic climate there are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to buy a business - a perfectly sound business may well be available for markedly less now than in better times when the price will rise with general corporate sentiment.

The whole process of acquiring a business is also less complex than starting with a start-up - you have immediate cash flow and no start-up costs and capitalisation issues to fund and address.

You can seize the chance to renegotiate contracts held by your target business, its rental payments to a landlord and credit terms.

There are of course, key and cautionary issues for any entrepreneur to consider before buying a business:
• undertake due diligence by poring over the books to avoid investing in a concern that is likely to fail.
• investigate the financial health of customers and suppliers because a successful business can be ruined by the failure of those who supply it and that buy its products.

Affordable finance for an acquisition is much harder to come by than before the recession but options such as invoice discounting, private equity, grant funding and our own Factoring Advisory Service can help to realise ambitions.

Corporate Strategies, the specialist turnaround division of Leonard Curtis, is helping to secure sales by launching a ground-breaking service called Acquire.

The free-to-use service is focused on accountancy firms with small and medium-sized business clients who want to sell.

But it can be used directly by owner managers and directors seeking a buyer for businesses in sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, recruitment, haulage and retail.

The service includes weekly updates to the clients of accountants and intermediaries, listing businesses for sale, acquisition searches, insolvency sales and details of property assets.

Information required from accountancy firms includes brief details - but not the name - of the five most acquisitive clients of an accountancy firm such as:
• the relevant sector
• the maximum turnover of the potential acquisition
• geographical target area.

Corporate Strategies will enter this information into its Acquire database and keep the provider informed when suitable acquisition opportunities arise.

Mark Colman, Leonard Curtis.