First Time Buyers: Don't Go it Alone.
Stick to a process and amp up the enthusiasm!
There are several factors you need to consider before purchasing a business:
The type of business you'd like to buy and in what industry
Identify businesses of that type that are for sale
Contact the seller
Collect financial documents
Complete a financial analysis of the business
Prepare a purchase offer and submit it to the seller
Conduct extensive due diligence, verify Quality of Earnings, and conduct inventories, etc.
Negotiate final purchase documents, structured buyout (if applicable).
Prepare closing documents including searching for liens, legal actions, etc., and seller held note.
Arrange for transfer of banking, licensing
Close the transaction and transfer funds
Transition including time spent training the buyer or development of a new manager; maintain staff.
Contact your customers and vendors (if appropriate)
For obvious reasons, it is a good decision to partner with an experienced Intermediary, business broker or mergers & acquisition specialist. Not only do they manage the process, they'll provide the experience and resources to make the process smoother. And, it's the seller that pays the broker(s)'s commission at closing.