A Step in the Right Direction

Ask The Right Questions

When talking to the seller, it is vital that you ask the right questions. Here is one key idea to nail down: "I understand the business concept, but what's the job?" In other words, what do you actually have to do to run the business on a daily basis? The business opportunity may be providing consulting work to businesses--something you would really enjoy--while the actual job is filling your day cold-calling businesses on the telephone to generate clients--a prospect that may intimidate you.

Get beyond the glamour of the business concept and understand the daily work necessary to get results from your investment. If the daily effort is not to your liking, it doesn't matter how much you enjoy the idea of buying the business opportunity--you won't be happy running the business day to day.

Other subjects you might explore with the seller include:

  • What is the total investment, and are there any continuing fees or product costs I should anticipate?

  • How long has your company been in business? Where are your headquarters, and how many people do you employ? Can I visit the headquarters?

  • Are you registered as a business opportunity (or "seller-assisted marketing plan") in any states? This is required in 25 states, although compliance is generally spotty.

  • May I have a copy of your company's financial statements? This will be important if you are expecting any ongoing services, such as a supply of inventory, from the company.
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This article was originally published in the June 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Step in the Right Direction.

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