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Is Buying A Service Based Business A Good Choice These Days?

Comments & Replies: 2     Views: 26969     Posted By: Christina Lazuric  Christina Lazuric: Business Broker, Orange County

I've been selling small businesses a long time and I get many call from business buyers who are open to buying something but aren't sure what would be a good investment. I'll get asked what I would buy if I was them and my answer is always the same, "a service-based business". I explain why here.

Topics: Buying A Business     Tags: buying a business



I've been selling businesses a long time and I get many call from buyers who are open to buying something but aren't sure what would be a good investment. I'll get asked what I would buy if I was them and my answer is always the same, "a service-based business".

There are plenty of reasons for my choice but the most compelling is my aversion to risk. While its true that service businesses typically come with fewer assets than the average business I say, who cares. Maybe it makes some people feel better to walk into a business that has office equipment, machines, people doing things with the machines. I just see liability. Over the course of my professional life I have seen business equipment sell for pennies on the dollar, so I feel that if you're thinking that these assets are going to save you in a worst-case scenario then think again, that's a false sense of security. Capital equipment is a different story, but few businesses come with equipment values over a few hundred thousand dollars.

I believe in pure cash flow without the drain of appendages. When I first got into business brokering I couldn't give a virtual business away now 13 years later, I just closed a sale of a 6-million-dollar business that came with 2 laptops. Service can even be retail if you aren't responsible for a lease of space, furnishings inside, employees to run it, and sitting on inventory, thank you Amazon. The less responsibility the business has to bear the better it is. Also, the more flexible a business can be the better it is. Businesses try to control sales by doing their part, marketing sales calls etc. What about the unforeseen market circumstances that no one saw coming that have a real affect on some businesses? In a service business that doesn't have an expensive monthly lease or many W2 employees to feed, you can streamline to adjust for the change but if you're trapped in many fixed monthly expenses then you won't weather a long drought.

A service business isn't for everyone of course. If you're a machinist, then you are a machinist and that's not virtual unless you contract another machinist to do all your work for you. The point is that we need some businesses to have a storefront and warehouse, that's just how they operate. If you have a choice though and you're thinking about it, just focus on the highest cash flow and least liability.


Aside from poor management, one of the ways most businesses fail is insufficient capital, because they either misjudge how much their sales will be or they spend to much building the business with investments in equipment or splurge too much on tenant improvements. Many business owners will overestimate their sales and underestimate how long it will take to get the business off the ground, and end up having a failure on their hands. A "service-based business" is good, but like with any business, and in any industry, I recommend to my clients to view each business on a case-by-case basis and not just be following a trend - they should always look and analyze the numbers, and be conservative with what future sales will be and mind their expenses, so they don't end up running too low on capital.


  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence

Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.

Helen Yoo, New Century Escrow - Escrow Services In Southern California

New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.

Shalonda Chappel-Pilgram: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California

Escrow services to brokers/agents, sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services. 951-808-3972.

Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - CA

California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.

Rick Carlson, Business Broker - Southern California

You Will Never Feel Lost In The Shuffle. Many Brokers Simply Send Out An NDA And That's The End Of Communication. All Buyers Receive A Personal Meeting With An Ace Acquisition Specialist So They Can Recommend The Perfect Business For You. Phone Rick direct at 800-985-4939.

Joanne Weber, Broker - Preschool Specialist - Southern California

The Ryan Craig Company is in its 35th year as the recognized expert in Southern California, dealing exclusively in the sale of preschools, Montessori schools, day care centers, and private schools. Our extensive list of references speaks for itself. Phone Joanne at 818-760-3684 for more info.

Ryan Clark, Business Broker: Southern California

The Veld Group provides a refreshing approach to Business Brokerage, Mergers & Acquisitions and Business Consulting and Valuations. From Your Street to Wall Street, we cater to Main Street Businesses as well as more complex Strategic Firms and Start-Ups. Phone Ryan, Business Broker at 310-652-8353.

Larry Larsen: Laundry Consulting, Brokerage, Insurance

I have over forty years of experience in the sales, ownership, management, and construction of coin laundries. He is a licensed broker active in the sale of coin laundries, a licensed insurance agent specializing in coin laundry insurance. Phone me at 714-630-9274 or 714-630-Wash.


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Willard Michlin Due Diligence Services
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