When it comes to purchasing a business, evaluating risk on every front is paramount. This risk assessment, known as due diligence, can take anywhere from 30-90 days or more and is comprised of assessments on multiple fronts.
Areas to assess
Operations: Investigate answers to the following questions:
- What is the growth trajectory of this company?
- Is the revenue sustainable?
- What is the company’s product image and how does it line up with competitors’ product images?
IT: Evaluate security vulnerabilities and assess the ownership and setup of any custom software. Also, take an inventory of all IT devices among the company’s employees.
Legal: Hire a lawyer to review all organizational documents, contracts, leases, past litigation, etc. for the purpose of addressing possible legal liabilities.
Accounting: Conduct an assessment of the seller’s financial statements to help predict the company’s future earnings.
Environmental: Conduct an assessment of all business sites to determine any possible environmental contamination and litigation risks.
Documents to evaluate
During the due diligence process, you’ll want to explore all the documents you can get your hands on in order to flush out all possible risks. These documents may include but are certainly not limited to licenses and permits, information on any past and current litigation, articles of incorporation, insurance coverage and information concerning any recent claims, employee contract details, information on company assets, tax records and financial statements.
Take your time with this process. It’s not possible to be too thorough. If, after you’ve evaluated the risks, you determine you’re ready to move forward, it’s time to draft and sign a formal agreement. Should you dredge up current or potential risks that you’re not willing to assume, you can part ways with the seller, thankful you did your due diligence and avoided an unhealthy business transaction.
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a business, we would be happy to connect with you. We can be reached at 612.331.8392 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.