When you buy a business, you should have a plan. Why have you chosen that particular business? Why that particular time to buy a business? What can you bring to the business? Some of the most successful business stories are of people who buy a business with the intention of bringing their specialized set of skills to it, and using them to grow the business.
However it can be hard to add a new service to a business, particularly when you’re unfamiliar with the workings of the company, as you probably will be when you buy a business. The best person to help you understand the company, and thus make it easier for you to expand its services, is of course the seller. You might want to consider working out a deal whereby the seller stays on board as a consultant for a specified period of time, helping you get your bearings.
1) Writing a Business Plan After You Buy a Business
Business plans are usually written when you want to start a new business; however, writing a business plan is an excellent way for you to lay out on paper exactly what the company is about, and understand what it does best, what its weak points are, etc. This will prove very helpful when you’re trying to work out how to go about adding a new service. Be open to advice from anyone in your company who might have a good idea.
How well does the service you want to add fit in with the current functioning of the company? If it’s an extension of areas the company is already involved in, is it a service that existing customers will need? Or will you need to spend money to market the new facets of the company?
If you’re venturing into an entirely new area of business, do you have the workforce and infrastructure in place to handle the changes, or will you need to hire new talent, purchase new equipment etc.?
Share your thoughts with your employees and take their feedback very seriously. They are the ones who will ultimately execute your ideas and make them work.
2) What Do the Customers Want?
Your business sense aside, the customers’ ideas are easily your most valuable pointers to what your business needs. If you find several customers asking you whether you offer a particular service, that’s a clear indication of the natural direction in which the company can grow. Your existing customer base will provide sufficient momentum to your initiatives to ensure that they get a fair chance. If you please your existing customers, word-of-mouth referral alone will help the new areas of your business grow and you may find that you don’t need to market yourself aggressively at all.
3) Share Your Enthusiasm
Being a new boss, it’s important that your first few big ideas don’t fall flat, so err on the side of caution. Be a dynamic communicator so that you have the support of your employees and customers. Set realistic goals and motivate your employees into attaining them. Constantly revise progress with your team members, so that they feel that they’re a part of the change, and have a stake in making it work. The company’s enthusiasm will be passed onto the customers, giving any sensible business plan a good chance of success.
Timing is of the utmost importance, so be prepared to put your plans on hold until the company is ready to go through a change. When you buy a business, the period of transition can be somewhat unstable so any changes you plan need to be planned out to the smallest detail possible.
By John Hester