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Good Buy

Cut your losses, prime time, read between the lines.

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This story appears in the April 1998 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Buying an existing business is often easier than starting from scratch. But scratch you must to dig up relevant information that may not be readily offered by the existing owner or business broker. Before making any important decisions, check the numbers and ask pointed questions.

  • Study the financial records provided by the current business owner, but don't rely on them exclusively. Instead, insist on seeing tax returns for at least the past three years. Also ask for the sales tax records, where applicable.
  • Find out how the owner determined the asking price. Together with your accountant, decide whether assets and expenses were realistically valued. Business owners often assess outmoded assets overgenerously or fail to recognize changes in the neighborhood and their impact on property value.

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