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  • Writer's pictureJason Huett

Buying a Business? Key Functional Areas to Master Prior to Purchase.

When you're eyeing a business to buy, it's like preparing for a marathon. You don’t just show up on race day without understanding the route, training for endurance, and knowing where the tough hills are.


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Similarly, mastering key functional areas of a business can ensure you’re set for success long after the initial purchase excitement settles. To be completely transparent, it's not possible for most business buyers to master all of these areas, however, you will want to be aware of them and consider how each will be addressed.


Here’s a breakdown of essential business areas every potential buyer should be familiar with.


Operations: The Engine Room of the Business


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Understanding Operations Management

Operations are the heart of any business, pumping out products and services to consumers. Effective operations management means you’re maximizing output while minimizing costs — doing more with less.


For example, a client once improved their entire service delivery by simply re-evaluating their supply chain logistics, cutting down costs by 15% in the first quarter alone.


Key Components of Operations

Every business will have its unique operational needs, but key components often include inventory management, quality control, and customer service operations. Getting a grip on these can drastically improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, two huge levers for business success.


Strategies for Operational Excellence

Streamlining operations might involve adopting lean management techniques or integrating software that automates routine tasks. Always be on the lookout for bottlenecks or outdated practices that could be sapping business efficiency.


Sales & Marketing: Telling the Story and Making the Sale


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Importance of Marketing in Business

Marketing isn’t just about selling products; it's about telling a story that resonates with people. And, not just anyone — your Target Audience. It's what transforms a first-time buyer into a lifelong customer. Effective marketing strategies can elevate a business’s profile and drive significant revenue.


Core Marketing Strategies

Whether it’s through digital marketing campaigns, direct mail, or social media, each platform offers unique advantages. For instance, I’ve seen businesses double their reach simply by refining their online presence and engaging actively with their customers through social media.


Measuring Marketing Success

It’s vital to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts through metrics like return on investment (ROI), customer acquisition costs, and overall engagement rates.


This data not only helps in measuring current success but also in planning future campaigns. While new business owners tend to focus on new customer acquisition and lead generation, data holds the key to reducing your Customer Acquisition (CAC) costs. If this all sounds boring, know that whomever (you or your competition) knows their numbers will ultimately end up on top.


Sales Many people hear the term, "Sales and Marketing" and think they're the same.

They're not. I could write an entire book on how these two functions integrate, but you can read an easy-to-digest article that will cover the main points.


Sales takes the lead once a prospect has established contact and shown interest in your product or service — Sales closes the deal. And, if Sales can't close the deal, guess who takes over? That's right, Marketing!


Human Resources: Building Your Team


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Role of Human Resources

Human Resources (HR) is crucial in building your business’s backbone — it's people. HR handles everything from hiring and onboarding to managing employee relations and ensuring compliance with labor laws. Most small businesses don't have an in-house HR function, but it's still important to recognize the function within your business.


Developing a Strong Work Culture

Creating a positive work culture leads to happier, more productive employees. I once worked with a business that turned around its high employee turnover by revamping its work culture to focus more on recognition and professional development. Of particular importance and influence today is the nature of hybrid and remote work.


Compliance and Legal Aspects

Staying on top of HR compliance can save you from costly legal issues down the road. Ensure your business practices meet all local and federal employment laws.


Finance: Keeping Score


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Financial Management Basics

Understanding the financial health of your potential business purchase is non-negotiable. This includes being able to read financial statements, understanding cash flow, and knowing how to budget effectively. Keep in mind that financial statements are historical by nature. Even more important are financial forecasts paired with an analysis of actual performance versus forecasted performance.


Importance of Financial Health

Remember, the financial metrics will tell you a lot about the business’s viability and growth potential. A healthy balance sheet, strong cash flows, and good profit margins are usually indicative of a well-run business.


Tools and Resources for Financial Management

Utilizing financial management tools can provide deeper insights into the business’s financial status and help forecast future trends.


Technology Integration


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Leveraging Technology in Business

In today’s digital age, integrating technology can streamline operations, enhance customer interactions, and secure data. CRM systems, cloud computing, and e-commerce platforms are just a few examples of technology that can transform a business.


Note: Perhaps the most underrated piece of technology is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. For businesses I've brokered under $2 million in annual revenue, the CRM is often the most underdeveloped (or missing) piece of technology.


Keeping Up with Technological Advances

Staying current with technology is crucial. For instance, adopting the latest in cybersecurity can prevent potential disasters down the line.


Conclusion

Mastering (or at least understanding) these key functional areas will equip you with the knowledge to not only choose the right business to buy but also to steer it towards sustained success. Think of it as getting a full view of the terrain before a major race—it’s both empowering and essential.


For anyone stepping into the business buying arena, remember: knowledge is power. Equip yourself well, and you'll set yourself up for a winning streak in the business world.


To your success,


Jason Huett

Collaborative Commercial, LLC.

CEO | CMO

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