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Questions to Ask When Buying a Business (6 Things to Look for)

Questions to ask when buying a business

Updated: December 19, 2022

Buying a business could be one of the best decisions you make for your future. It opens up a world of possibilities. But only if done properly, because it also carries several risks that you need to be aware of.

To avoid or understand the risks, due diligence is critical in this process. It enables you to learn everything you need to know about a company before investing your money. And thus making sure that your investment will be safe.

There are essential aspects to consider while conducting your due diligence process, including:


  • Buyer and seller interest
  • Financial position
  • Business assets
  • Business structure
  • Current liabilities
  • Legal agreements


Let’s take a closer look at these factors and determine why they should play a role in your buying decision.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Business

As an investor, the more you know about a company, the more confident you can be about your investment. These are the core areas to focus on.

Buyer and Seller Interest

Start with, here is a list of questions to help you better understand why you want to buy the business.


  • What are your personal financial goals and needs?
  • What do you hope this business accomplishes for you?
  • What interests you about this company?
  • What are your expectations?


Once you’ve answered these questions, you can filter the business through your priorities to ensure it aligns with what you’re looking for. This will give you a better idea of whether you should move forward. For example, how long do you see yourself being the business owner? Are you looking for something with a relatively quick exit strategy? Or do you want to carry on with the work of the previous owner and grow the business as much as possible?

You also need to understand why the seller is selling. Maybe there are financial concerns, the owners are retiring, or maybe they are moving on to a new business venture. Whatever the case may be, its important to know what it is about the business that no longer makes it worth it for them to carry on with it.

Understanding why they are abandoning what they worked to build can give you insight into what to expect if you step into their role as the owner.

Financial Position

A core component of the due diligence you’ll do prior to buying a business is gathering insight into the financial position of the company.

Ask for at least three years of financial information. That should include complete and accurate:


  • Financial statements
  • Tax returns
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable


Be sure to verify the completeness of the information they provide to you.

This information allows you to understand where the business stands financially before moving forward. Without this information, you won’t know how much capital you’ll need to put into the company to get it back on track to profitability or if the business is worthy of your investment.

Even if the business is profitable in its current state, you need to make sure that there are no major problems. These include cash flow problems and other financial aspects that can be hidden withing standard financial statements.

Business Assets

Most often, you’ll be purchasing the company’s assets. That means you need to have a list of everything the business currently owns.

Enlist an expert to inspect all of the assets (machinery, equipment, etc.) to determine value and condition. They’ll give you a full review and an estimate of how much it will cost to update or replace the required equipment.

Another aspect of the business assets is its human resource. Understanding the role that key employees play in keeping the business running is of vital importance. For instance, if you have employees who bottleneck the production process and, due to their specialized skill set, can not be replaced easily. This is a risk and something that you may need to include in the purchase price since ramping up your human resources can be costly.

Business Structure

Understand the business structure. What is it operating as of now? Does this need to be changed?

This is important because each business structure is taxed differently.

You also need to analyze the legal condition of the business. Ensure it is operating with proper licensing and regulations. You want to avoid legal issues in the future.

Equally important is understanding if there are any legal matters that need to be attended to. This can either be tax liabilities or some other legal process that is the company is currently involved in.

Current Liabilities

The next thing to look for is the company’s existing liabilities or financial obligations. Often, when you buy a business, you’ll also be responsible for these.

Aside from making sure you understand the standard operating expenses. If there are outstanding liabilities the current owner does not plan to pay off, it can indicate hidden financial struggles. For example, if at any point the business had to acquire debt it could not pay back.

This is one way to look for any potential business or legal issues. The more insight you have in this area, the better. You want to avoid stepping into unknown debts and unknown financial obligations that can impact your profit margins or make the business no longer attractive.

Often, these are the reasons business founders leave companies.

Legal Agreements

Lastly, take a look at the relationships and legal agreements in place with the business and its customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. Understanding these contracts will help you meet stakeholders’ expectations should you purchase the business.

You should also look into employee agreements and insurance policies. It’s a good idea to be brought up to speed on what the employees are being paid and any stipulations or contracts related to their employment. The more information you have about this during due diligence, the smoother the transition will be after you close your purchase.

Need Help Buying a Business?

Before you buy a business, talk to an attorney and an accountant.

These professionals can look through all aspects of the potential sale as well as help with due diligence in each of the areas we’ve covered. They’ll help you make the right decision and guide you through the entire process and help you make the most out of each business opportunity you come across.

If you’re interested in buying a business, reach out to Vertical CPA. We are experienced accountants who want to help you properly prepare for your future!

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