How To Make Money Buying and Running Small Businesses

Business Data Analyst

I’ve written a lot about starting a side hustle from scratch, and it’s a great way to bring in additional income. However, did you know that buying established small businesses can be an equally lucrative business strategy? 

Becoming a business owner can be an exciting and rewarding venture, especially when you consider the option of purchasing an established small business. By acquiring a business with a solid foundation, you can save yourself the challenges of starting from scratch and jumping straight into running a profitable enterprise. 

This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to buy and run an established small business successfully.

How To Buy and Run a Small Business

Identify Your Goals and Interests

Before embarking on your journey to purchasing a small business, take the time to reflect on your personal goals, interests, and skills. Consider what industry or sector aligns with your passions and expertise. Also, understand how much time you will put into running the business.  

This self-reflection will help you find a business that suits your interests and increases your chances of long-term success.

Research and Due Diligence

Once you have identified your niche, conduct thorough research to find suitable businesses for sale. Use online marketplaces, business brokers, and industry-specific publications to explore opportunities. 

A few popular online marketplaces include BizBuySell, Business Broker, and LoopNet.

When buying a small business, consider these critical factors: 

  • Financial Health and Performance: Assessing the financial health and performance of the business is paramount. Look for consistent revenue and profit trends, positive cash flow, and healthy margins. Evaluate the business's expenses, debt obligations, and potential liabilities.
  • Reputation and Customer Base: The reputation and customer base of the business significantly impact its success. Evaluate the business's brand image, customer reviews, and online presence. Consider the strength of its customer relationships, repeat business, and customer loyalty. A strong and loyal customer base indicates the business's potential for sustainable revenue and growth, providing a solid foundation for your ownership.
  • Operations and Key Personnel: Thoroughly examine the business's operations and key personnel. Understand the day-to-day workflows, staffing requirements, and operational systems in place. Evaluate the skills and expertise of the existing employees and determine if their roles are crucial to the business's success. 

When you find a potential business, perform due diligence to gather all relevant information about its financials, operations, legal status, and market position. This will enable you to decide and negotiate the best deal.

Seek Professional Assistance

Asking for professional help is crucial during the acquisition process. 

Hire an attorney experienced in business transactions to assist you with legal matters, including contracts, licenses, and permits. Additionally, consider consulting an accountant to review the financial statements and assess the business's profitability. Their expertise will guide you in making well-informed decisions and avoiding potential pitfalls.

Assess The Business Value

When evaluating the value of a business, consider factors such as revenue, cash flow, customer base, assets, liabilities, and market trends. 

Request financial records for the past few years, including balance sheets, income statements, and tax returns. Evaluate the business's growth potential and its competitive position within the industry. Conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is also advisable to identify potential areas for improvement.

Negotiate and Structure The Deal

Once you have assessed the business's value, negotiate the purchase terms. 

Consider the asking price, payment structure, financing options, and contingencies. You may pay in full or seek external funding through loans or investors, depending on your financial capabilities. Carefully review the purchase agreement, ensuring it covers all crucial aspects such as assets, liabilities, contracts, and warranties.

Transition and Integration

Upon completing the acquisition, focus on a smooth transition and integration process. 

Build strong relationships with existing employees, customers, and suppliers. Understand the existing workflows and implement any necessary changes gradually to minimize disruption. Maintain open communication with stakeholders, fostering a positive and supportive environment.

Retain and Expand The Customer Base

One of the key advantages of purchasing an established business is the existing customer base. Focus on retaining these customers by providing excellent service and maintaining product quality. 

Implement targeted marketing strategies to attract new customers and expand your reach. 

Embrace digital platforms, social media, and online advertising to promote your business and increase visibility effectively.

Continuous Improvement and Adaptation

To ensure the long-term success of your business, embrace a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptability. 

Stay informed about industry trends, customer preferences, and technological advancements. Invest in employee training and development to enhance skills and productivity. Regularly review and update your business plan, setting realistic goals and strategies for growth.

Buying and running an established small business offers an excellent opportunity to become an entrepreneur without starting from scratch. 

By following these steps, conducting thorough research, seeking professional assistance, and implementing strategic management practices, you can increase your chances of acquiring a successful business and successfully navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship. 

Remember, the journey may be demanding, but you can build a thriving and profitable enterprise with dedication, perseverance, and a customer-focused approach.

Author: Steve Adcock


Steve Adcock quit his job after achieving financial independence at 35 and writes about the habits millionaires use to build wealth and get into the best shape of their lives. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch, and CNBC, Steve maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level up their lives, careers, and freedom. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at