Buying an Existing Business Checklist: What to Look For & Why!

Buying an existing business checklist

Buying an existing business is a great way to get into business for yourself. When taking this leap, the trick is knowing what to look for and what to expect. Resources such as “buying an existing business” checklists are a great way to get a leg up on what to look for and expect when buying an existing business.

Buying an Existing Business Checklist

The best way to get a leg up on buying an existing business is to have a checklist. The list helps you know what to look for and what to expect. The best part is that you can tailor these checklists as needed. A great way to start is to download a buying an existing business checklist. You can then customize this checklist based on your needs and wants.

Why You Need a Checklist When Buying Out a Company

When buying an existing business, one should remember that there are a lot of factors to consider. Even if you have a good idea of what you want, it is always a good idea to make a checklist of what to look for and expect. This helps avoid any potential pitfalls and ensures that you make an informed decision.

Below is a list of what to look for and why when buying an existing business. This list is by no means exhaustive; it is meant to be a broad overview of the most important things to look for when buying an existing business.

Buying a Business 101: What to Look for When Buying a Business

When learning how to start a business in Florida, you will face dozens of different options, including buying an existing business.

Buying an existing business is a complex and exciting process, and finding out what to know about buying a business can be quite overwhelming. However, the first step in the process is to familiarize yourself with the basics of buying an existing business. Investing in a business isn’t something to take lightly. It is a significant commitment of time, money, and energy. It is also a long-term venture, which means you’ll have to be ready to commit to the business for the long haul.

Knowing what to look for and what to expect when buying an existing business will help you get off to a strong start and avoid potential pitfalls.

Below, we will give you a brief overview of a simple-to-use buying an existing business checklist to help guide you along the process:

1. Determine What Type of Business You Want to Invest In

When buying an existing business, the first step is determining what to invest in. Your options are wide-ranging, and knowing what you want will help you find the right company to buy.

Several different business structures can be bought and sold, including sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, and more. The business structure you’re looking at will significantly impact your options.

For instance, if you’re looking to buy a corporation, you want to look for one that has been profitable for several years, has a solid cash flow, and has a good reputation in the community. This will help ensure that the business is a sound investment, and it will help you avoid the risk of buying a failing business.

2. Research Your Available Options

The next step is to research to figure out your available options. When buying an existing business, you’ll want to narrow down your search to specific companies that fit the description of the type of business you’re looking for.

You can do this by searching for businesses for sale in your area, asking friends and family for recommendations, or browsing through listings on sites.

When narrowing down your options, you’ll want to make sure you’re focusing on businesses that are a good investment. The best way to do this is to do your research and read up on the companies you’re interested in.

You can read up on the background of the business, its reputation, and the financial performance of the business. You can also search for reviews of the brand on the internet, and you can even visit the business in person to talk to the current owners and get a feel for how it runs.   

3. Issue a Letter of Intent

In Florida, a letter of intent is a business document that states that you are interested in buying a business. A letter of intent is a formal way of expressing your interest in a company, and it’s an essential step in the process of buying an existing business.

A letter of intent can help you clarify your intentions and your goals, and it can also be used as a starting point in the negotiation process. The letter of intent is also an excellent place to set clear parameters for the sale, such as the price, the terms, and the timeline.

The letter of intent can also communicate your concerns and expectations, such as what type of buyer you are and the timeline for closing.   

4. Do Your Due Diligence

The next step in buying an existing business is to do your due diligence. Due diligence is the process of further researching the company you’re interested in purchasing and making sure that the business is a good investment. This can be a complex process, especially if you’re buying a larger company or a corporation.                

Due diligence is an integral part of the buying process because it helps ensure that you’re making a sound investment. To ensure you’re making a wise investment, you want to be sure to research the following areas:

  • Any/all contracts and leases that the company currently has
  • Certificate of good standing (COGS)
  • Current organizational charts that provide a chain of command, flow of work, and internal communication procedures
  • Current/Necessary licenses and permits
  • Financial statements/records
  • History of the business
  • Status of equipment, inventory, and other assets
  • The legal status of the company
  • Zoning and environmental regulations

5. Secure Financing

With your due diligence completed, you’re ready to secure financing for the purchase of the business. When buying an existing business, it’s essential to do your research and make sure you can secure the financing you need.

The most common way of financing your purchase is to get a bank loan, but there are also other financing options such as getting a business loan, getting a cash advance on a credit card, securing a line of credit, or getting a private investor.

6. Close the Deal

The final step in buying an existing business is closing the deal. The closing is the official signing of the purchase contract, and it signals that the sale is complete. The closing process can be complex and involves a lot of paperwork and documents, so it’s essential that you have a lawyer on your team who can help you with the process, such as the professionals at Cueto Law Group.

Before the deal is considered complete, you’ll want to make sure you obtain all necessary legal documents, including:

  • A bill of sale
  • All vehicle documentation
  • Asset acquisition statements
  • Consultation/employment agreements
  • Copyrights, patents, and trademarks
  • Franchise paperwork (if applicable)
  • Non-compete agreements
  • The adjusted purchase price
  • The lease

Red Flags to Look Out for When Buying a Company

When you’re buying a business, it’s essential to do your due diligence and to look for red flags in the business. Some of the biggest red flags you want to watch out for include:

  • A high employee turnover rate
  • An owner that seems to be dishonest or hesitant to carry out the necessary procedures or is pressuring you to close quickly
  • Lack of documentation like contracts, leases, and other legal documents  
  • Poor market direction
  • Poor customer reviews or company reputation
  • Poor/Failing equipment
  • The absence of past financial records
  • The reason for selling                   

Positive Signals You Should See When Purchasing a Business

While it’s crucial to be on the lookout for red flags when executing on a buying an existing business checklist, it’s also essential to look for signs that the business is a solid investment. Some of the most positive signals you should be looking for when purchasing a business include:      

  • Has a strong, consistent revenue stream            
  • Is located in an area that’s in high demand
  • Has a brand that is well-known and well-liked by customers
  • Has loyal employees
  • The owner is open, honest, and excited to share information about the business with you

The Pros and Cons of Buying an Established Business

Buying an existing business is a complex process that involves significant risk. Before you buy a business, you must be prepared to deal with the challenges of due diligence, financial analysis, and management. There are many pros and cons to buying an existing business, and it all depends on your goals, financial situation, and experience level. Below are several pros and cons of buying an existing business that you should consider:


There are many benefits to buying an existing business, and some of the most compelling include:

Significantly Reduced Startup Times

Buying an existing business reduces startup times because you don’t have to build everything from scratch. Instead, you can leverage the business’s assets, systems, and processes to get things up and running as quickly as possible.              

Existing Customer Base and Staff

Buying an existing business also allows you to utilize an existing customer base and an experienced staff. This can be invaluable if you’re a first-time business owner who doesn’t have the time or money to build a large customer base from scratch. It can also be a great source of motivation for employees who are excited about the future of the business and want to see it succeed.

A Well-Established Supply Chain

Finally, when you buy an existing business, you get to take advantage of an already established supply chain. This can save you a significant amount of time and money, and it can also help you avoid making costly mistakes that result in lost revenue. 


As with any pro, there are some cons worth mentioning when buying an existing business. Some of the most significant drawbacks include:

Higher Initial Cost of Investment

When you buy an existing business, the initial investment cost is higher than building a business from scratch. This is because you’ll need to pay the owner for the assets and systems built over the years and pay the staff that will continue to operate the business on a day-to-day basis.

Technology and Processes May Be Outdated

Another potential drawback of buying an existing business is inheriting outdated technology and processes. This can be a serious issue if you’re a first-time entrepreneur who doesn’t have the time or money to upgrade these systems. It can also be a significant risk if the business is in a niche that requires current technology, such as e-commerce or software development.

Existing Business Could Be Misrepresented, and You Could End Up Scammed

In some cases, you may find that you have been scammed and that the business that you bought is misrepresented. This could happen if the previous owner misrepresented the company’s value, failed to disclose essential facts, or failed to point out existing issues and problems.

Buying a Business Checklist Template

Taking over a small business or large corporation is a big undertaking, and it’s critical to do your research and think carefully about each step of the process. That’s why we’ve developed this “buying an existing business” checklist to help you think through the most critical factors and considerations. Use this as a starting point, then tailor it to your specific situation and goals.

Buying a business checklist PDF

Buying a business checklist Word

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Need Advice on Buying a Business in Florida?

If you’re considering buying a business in Florida, make sure you get all the information you need. Our team of business lawyers at Cueto Law Group provides legal advice and services for entrepreneurs throughout the state. We can help you with the acquisition of a business, whether you’re buying an existing business or buying a franchise.

Contact us today to learn more!

Other Tips for Buying a Business

We know buying a business can be an exciting challenge, but it’s also a big responsibility with several factors to consider. Below are a few additional tips worth considering:

How To Buy an Existing Business with No Money

The most common reason that many people choose to buy an existing business is that they may not have the necessary financial means to start a new business from scratch. However, that doesn’t mean that purchasing an existing company is an easy out-of-pocket investment. Instead, you may need to consider one of the following financing options:

Bank Loans

One option you may consider to help fund the purchase of an existing business is a bank loan. These are loans that banks and other financial institutions offer. You can use a bank loan to purchase an existing business the same way you would use it for any additional business expense.


In some cases, you may find that you don’t have enough capital to purchase an existing business outright. Instead, you may decide to partner with another individual or company that can provide additional capital.

Seller Financing

Seller financing is a financing option offered by the seller when you purchase an existing business. This type of financing is very similar to a bank loan, except the funds are provided directly by the seller instead of through a financial institution. The primary advantage of seller financing is that it allows you to purchase the business without taking out a bank loan.

Small Business Acquisition Loans

If you cannot obtain a traditional bank loan, you may want to consider a small business acquisition loan (SBA). These are loans offered by banks but are specifically designed to finance the purchase of a business.

Buying Companies of Different Types

The purchase of a business is a relatively straightforward process, but there are different types of companies to choose from, including:

Buying an Existing LLC

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a type of business entity similar to a corporation in many ways. An LLC is a legal entity with assets, liabilities, and responsibilities like a corporation. However, unlike a corporation, an LLC is owned and operated by its members or owners. This means that each owner is personally liable for the actions of the business, just like in a regular LLC, but with the added benefit of being able to pass the company on to the next generation without having to go through the lengthy process of forming a corporation.

Buying an Existing Joint Venture

A joint venture is a business that’s jointly owned and operated by two or more parties. In some cases, buying an existing joint venture can be a good option because you’ll be able to avoid some of the headaches that come with starting a new business. This is because the groundwork has already been laid, and the brand and reputation of the company have been built up over time. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking to re-brand or expand the business to take it to the next level.

Buying an Existing Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is owned and operated by a single person. This type of business can be a good option if you don’t want to be limited by the strict corporate laws of forming a corporation. This is because a sole proprietorship gives you the flexibility to make decisions without seeking the approval of other owners. It’s also a good option if you don’t have the money or desire to form a corporation, but want the credibility of operating a business.

How To Take Over a Business with Minimal Risk

When buying an existing business, the most important thing to remember is that you’re making a considerable investment that will impact every aspect of your life for years to come. This means that you’ll want to thoroughly investigate the business and the people behind it before making any decisions. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially if you’re working with a team of business lawyers who are experienced in this field.

Have questions? Reach out to Cueto Law Group today!


Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about buying an existing business:

Is Buying an Existing Business a Good Idea?

Yes, buying an existing business can be a great idea, especially if you want to avoid the headaches that come with starting a new business. This is especially true if you are just beginning your journey into entrepreneurship or looking to branch into an industry you are not familiar with.

What is Due Diligence When Purchasing a Business?

Due diligence is the process of investigating a business before buying it. This investigation can involve a wide range of background checks, including a review of the company’s financial records, an inspection of the physical premises, and a review of the company’s contracts and other legal documents.

Who Pays for Due Diligence?

Conducting due diligence is typically the responsibility of the buying party. It is your responsibility to invest in the necessary research and background checks to ensure that the business you’re buying is legitimate. Hire a team of business lawyers to help with due diligence if you aren’t comfortable doing it.

Cueto Law Group P.L.