Choosing A Business

Regardless of what anyone thinks about Barack Obama’s presidency, or how history will judge him, I do believe that business buyers can all learn a great deal by his rise from relative obscurity to the holder of the highest office in the land.

Moreover, his first election is a poignant example that prospective business buyers can emulate since much of what he faced is similar to what a new business buyer will encounter.

Obama did not possess the experience that Americans are used to in a presidential candidate, and so he had to prove himself time and time again to the voters. The same can be said for buyers. Most have never bought a business before and so they face a disbelieving group of sellers, brokers and bankers. It takes tenacity to prove you are worthy of their time. Only through your ability to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the process, and serious about getting a deal done, can you get the attention you need.

Obama redefined “messaging”. Never before has a political candidate done such a masterful job of getting his point across the vast numbers of potential voters. The lesson to business buyers is you cannot possibly expect a business to fall into your lap. You have to get the word out. You must search listings, visit businesses, contact every potential resource in your network and tap into their extended network. You may have to do direct solicitations to business owners once you know what type of business makes sense for you. In other words, you have got to expand your search to touch every possible opportunity.

Obama and his team did not get caught up in the minutia – he saw the bigger picture. Remember all those issues and accusations regarding his ties to Muslim extremists, or story lines that he wasn’t born in the USA, or his relationships with a convicted felon, or to radical clergymen? In prior times, any of these items would have undoubtedly exploded into media frenzy, and would have resulted in an irreparable scandal that would ultimately have sunk a lesser man’s aspirations. He paid no attention to them except to briefly address the questions, and then he marched on undeterred. He reminded me of the old cartoon of bullets bouncing off Superman.

You will also face an onslaught of issues when you buy a business; there is no escaping it. There will always be setbacks. Brokers who don’t call back, financials not being what they had been represented to be, businesses sold out from under you, challenges with financing, parties who twist the truth, lenders who do not believe you are creditworthy, friends and family who may not be supportive, and on and on the list goes. These issues derail many people. But truly enterprising individuals focus on the finish line, they know there is a greater good at the end, and they remain true to doing what has to be done to get there.

If you think buying a business is a walk in the park, you had better fasten your seatbelt. If it was that easy you would already own a business. The lesson is simple, stay focused, get used to setbacks, deal with the disappointments, and move on. If you cannot get past them, you are probably not suited to be a business owner altogether.

A crucial issue that comes shining through from Mr. Obama’s run for office and what you must do when buying a business is to surround yourself with the smartest people you possibly can. My initial perception of Obama was that he was an egotistical maniac. I felt he was a “my way or the highway” type person, and completely opposed to any views that were inconsistent with his own. I no longer hold that belief. Regardless of how history judges him, or my own personal opinion of him, I do admire him greatly for the team he assembled at every step. Throughout his campaign, Obama’s advisers continuously proved their competency. Upon his election, he fast tracked his team to be sure he would hit the ground running, surrounded by an intelligent group of counselors. He made certain to ramp up his knowledge on all issues with lightening speed.

I have met some insanely successful people in my career and the common thread they all share is they are smart enough to know that they don’t know it all, and so they devour every available resource, and they get the best possible outside help they can afford.

That is precisely what you must do when buying a business. Don’t be a “know-it-all”. If you have never bought a business before, be smart enough to admit you have no clue what you are doing. Don’t try to guess your way ahead because it will not work. Having the right knowledge is the only way to successfully navigate your way through each stage of the business buying process. Don’t try to save a few bucks using an inexperienced attorney, or attempt to complete the financial review without an accountant. It is a ridiculous strategy that will bring dismal results.

Finally, the one area where every buyer can take an enormous lesson from Obama is his ability to set out and follow a plan. During his campaign his opponents’ strategy seemed to shift with the wind, or be unduly influenced by the latest polls, but he carried on with unwavering fortitude. He showed the same focus after the election.

So too must you have a plan for buying a business. While you may not become the President of The United States, if you follow a proven plan, you will soon be the President of your own successful business.

Richard Parker


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