Before purchasing a small to mid-sized business, you must perform a thorough examination of that company during the due diligence process. Reviewing financials, valuing assets, and inspecting equipment, are all necessary and important matters to focus on, but there are other areas of concentration that don't receive enough attention on the front end of a business deal. One of these factors that is often neglected is the company's culture.
Company culture is primarily focused on the business's employees, from the overall attitude of these employees, to the morale and comradery of the group as a whole. You will want to learn as much about the workforce as possible, because these are the very people that will be contributing to the success of your business on a daily basis. How do these people feel about the job they do? What motivates them to come to work everyday and put their best foot forward? After you identify these things that will help you become an effective leader, you will want to figure out how the company is structured and how work is best completed.
Understanding the core values and structure of the business will help you understand what day-to-day operations look like and where the bulk of decisions are made. For example, does the business value their employees' independent creative processes and allow them to make their own decisions, or is their a hierarchy where the orders are handed down from management for the employees to follow? To learn the most about company culture, you could briefly interview employees that are in supervisory or managerial roles. Obviously, you won't have time to interview everyone, but it would pay off to gain different perspectives on how the business operates, to ensure that you are inheriting a healthy work culture that you can maintain.
The thought of inheriting a mess is enough to scare the majority of buyers out of purchasing a new business. If the company's culture is effecting the production of the business in a negative way, you must identify the main causes and determine if you are readily capable of fixing them. Would inheriting a workforce with no motivation and zero comradery be too risky, or does this give you the ability to start new and clear out the problems at the very beginning? Buying a business is filled with risks, but having a game plan and clear vision for your new business makes it much easier to overcome these small hurdles, and build a successful business.