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You'd Better Shop Around

Buying an existing business? Smart idea. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure the business is all it's cracked up to be.

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This story appears in the August 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After spending 18 years working for a Fortune 500 corporation, and moving and traveling continually, Ian Mitchell put away his suitcases in 1997 and went into for himself. "My wife and I had been thinking about it for a long time. Our daughter was in , and we decided she needed some stability," says Mitchell, 53, who bought The Mary Curtis Shop in Concord, Massachusetts, a bustling gift store, decoy shop, printing business, and coffee shop.

Mitchell decided to buy an existing business rather than start one from scratch because he wanted to try something new. "To start a business, you need expertise in that field, and I didn't want to go into the same career," says Mitchell. He chose the business because it was well-established, showed a good profit, and had an experienced staff and an impeccable reputation.

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