Buying, running and selling a business, small or large

It seems that more and more mothers are turning to running their own businesses as they seek to balance the financial demands of having a family with their desire for career success after giving birth. In fact, the popularity of the proposition has led to the phrase ‘mumpreneur’ being coined across the pond and now over here.

Buy or start from scratch?

For most the option to buy an existing business is probably not financially or practically possible, but for those with some existing capital acquiring a business or a franchise is a tangible possibility. The most important factor when contemplating a purchase is whether the business is sound, and whether it fits your abilities, expectations and level of commitment.

If considering a franchise, be sure to have a lawyer check over the fine print. Franchises are great as they offer a business concept packaged and ready to go, often with a brand name and corporate identity included. There are other options to a franchise running along similar lines, which include a license agreement, agency or a distributor agreement. The downside to a franchise-type model is that you won’t be free to run the business as you wish, and you will usually be expected to contribute significantly to the initial start up costs, and pay a franchise fee.

Keeping it going

Once your business is up and running, or your franchise agreement is signed and sealed, the hard work begins. The most important advice to any mother running their own business is to carefully plan how to integrate your business with your family. Small businesses and families require huge amounts of time and dedication to make them a success, and of course you will be caught in the middle of this.

There is plenty of help and advice out there to help anyone starting business, this will include information on the legal aspects of running a business, including employment issues, national insurance and PAYE tax matters, intellectual property issues including copyrighting your website and protecting your ideas and logos with patents or trademark registration.

Knowing when to sell

Selling a business is a difficult decision for any owner. You may decide that the hours are no longer possible, you may be forced to change location or even decide to go back to an employed position. The most important first step is to plan your objective for the sale, and to approach a company lawyer for advice. You may decide to sell to an employee or partner, or to market the business through an agency. Getting good information early on is the key to ensuring you are able to make an informed decision on the best way to withdraw from the enterprise. The final most important factor is the timing; maximising revenue will depend on achieving the sale at the right point in the business cycle, and this is no mean feat.

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