5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Existing Business

Purchasing an existing business can be an exciting venture for entrepreneurs looking to bypass the startup stage and step into an operation that is already up and running. However, it’s essential to approach this process with diligence and thoroughness to ensure you’re making a sound investment. Our business law attorneys can help you determine whether an existing business is a good investment and if it is, guide you through the process of purchasing the business.

What Should I Consider Before Purchasing an Existing Business?

Acquiring an existing business has its perks, including immediate cash flow, established customer base, and operational systems. Yet, success isn't guaranteed without a detailed assessment of several key factors. Understanding these elements can help you make an informed decision and lay a solid foundation for future prosperity. In particular, there are five things you should consider before purchasing an existing business.

1. Financial Analysis

Evaluating the financial health of a business is paramount.

  • Examine financial statements: Look at the last three to five years of the business's financials, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Understand revenue sources: Identify where the business's revenue comes from and assess the sustainability and reliability of these sources.
  • Check for debts and liabilities: Be aware of any financial obligations the business has, as these will now become your responsibility.
  • Profitability and growth potential: Assess past performance and project future profitability taking into consideration market trends and economic conditions.

2. Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Ensuring that the business complies with all relevant laws and regulations is critical to avoiding any future liabilities.

  • Licensing and permits: Verify that all necessary permits and licenses for operation are current and transferrable.
  • Zoning laws: Ensure the business’s location is zoned appropriately for its operation.
  • Employment laws: Familiarize yourself with any contracts, agreements, or disputes involving current and past employees.
  • Environmental regulations: Check for any environmental assessments or liabilities, especially if the business involves manufacturing or handling hazardous materials.

3. Market Analysis

Understanding the market and competitive landscape is crucial for assessing the business's viability.

  • Identify the target market: Know who the business's customers are and their buying habits.
  • Analyze competition: Research competitors, their market share, and what differentiates the business from them.
  • Market trends: Consider whether the market is growing, stagnant, or declining and how this might affect future business.

4. Operational Assessment

A thorough examination of the business’s operational workflow, employee skills, and infrastructure will highlight potential challenges and opportunities.

  • Review operational processes: Understand how the business operates daily and identify any efficiencies or areas for improvement.
  • Assess employee talent: Evaluate the skills and capabilities of current staff, as they will be instrumental in the business's continuity.
  • Physical assets: Check the condition and ownership of physical assets like equipment, inventory, and real estate.

5. Due Diligence

Due diligence is a comprehensive assessment involving all aspects mentioned above and more. It’s a process to confirm all factual, financial, and legal aspects before finalizing the purchase.

  • Request for important documents: Ask for any relevant documents not already reviewed, including patents, trademarks, customer lists, and contracts.
  • Hire professionals: Consider engaging with financial advisors, business lawyers, and industry experts to provide detailed insights and uncover any red flags.

Purchasing an existing business can expedite your path to entrepreneurship, but it comes with its challenges and risks. Considering these five critical areas will ensure you are better prepared for what lies ahead. Remember, thorough preparation and due diligence are your best tools in making a successful business acquisition.

If You’re Considering Purchasing an Existing Business in Pennsylvania, Our Business Law Attorneys Are Here to Help. Contact Us Today!

At Scaringi Law, our business lawyers understand how to address the needs of small to midsize businesses. We prioritize strong relationships, straightforward advice, quick responses, and effective solutions. We understand your concerns because we run our own business and face similar challenges and risks every day.

Let us help you accomplish your short-term and long-term business goals. Contact us online or call (717) 775-7195 to schedule a consultation with our experienced business lawyers in Harrisburg, PA.


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