Taking over an existing business: what you can learn from the new Ghostbusters

The new Ghostbusters comes out this week! Whatever your feelings are on this controversial remake, you can’t deny the chutzpah it takes to take on a beloved franchise.

If you’ve recently bought or are considering buying an existing small business, you already know the benefits: there’s less risk than starting from scratch, you can actually look through profit and loss records instead of making estimates, there’s a clear history of sales to point to and you acquire a customer base and possibly, valuable patents or copyrights.

The downside? Now you’ve got to decide whether it’s possible or even desirable to run the business as your predecessors did; or, if you want to transform the business with your vision.

Unless you have an intimate knowledge of the business and the industry, almost everything will be new to you. You probably shouldn’t jump in right away and implement changes that you haven’t had the time to really think about. Some businesses experience a downturn in the first three to six months after a new owner takes over but don’t panic. If you avoid substantial changes, things should return to normal.

During these first few months of owning and running this new-to-you business, take note of things like:

·      Who are your best and most regular customers and what do they want and expect

·      What are your employees’ roles and what does each contribute to the business

·      Are your employees adjusting well to your new role

·      Are there any operational procedures you could be doing more efficiently

·      How your suppliers tend to operate

·      Do your customers and employees seem open to new ideas

·      Are there any useless assets that could be sold off

·      Is there an existing marketing plan and how is it working

Once you know the business, now you can either grow it or maintain it. Don’t rest on your laurels if you’re happy with how business is going — work hard to maintain all those things that your customers, employees and suppliers have come to appreciate and expect.

If, however, you can’t help but see the opportunity for increased profits, do your research, develop a solid business plan with achievable goals, enlist your employees for support and be prepared to put in some significant time and effort to make this business a better version of what it once was. Who knows, you might be so successful that you end up opening a sequel!