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Buying a business in Australia: a step-by-step guide

Buying a business can be a complicated process. In this article, breaks it down into some simple steps.

Are you thinking about buying a business in Australia, but aren’t sure where to start? There is a huge amount of information available to budding entrepreneurs nowadays, and it can sometimes be overwhelming.

In this article, will help you simplify the process by breaking it down into easy steps. We’ll equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about investing, and set you on your way to discovering the exciting opportunities and unique challenges of becoming a business owner.

1.) Decide on the right industry

When buying a business in Australia, one of the crucial first steps is deciding on the industry that aligns with your passions, skills and finances. Take a moment to reflect on what interests you, and how your past experience could help you run a business. Do you love to delve into data and analytics? Perhaps a tech startup could be the business for you. Do you thrive on face-to-face interaction, and making people smile? Maybe the hospitality industry is your calling.

While following your passion is essential, it's equally important to evaluate the financial aspects of the industry. Understand the cash flow dynamics and assess the value of tangible and intangible assets, such as goodwill and intellectual property. Take a moment to consider current market trends, and the future growth potential of your chosen field. Additionally, make sure you’re aware of any common risks associated with your industry of choice, and ask yourself if you’re prepared to handle them.

Try to approach this vital first step with patience. Don’t rush, do your research, and take a well-rounded approach to set yourself up for success. Once you’re ready – it’s time to start searching for the right business.

2.) Find the right business

Online platforms such as can provide search filters to help you narrow down your options. Set filters based on your preferred price range, location and other criteria that are important to you. This will help you refine your search and focus on businesses that meet your specific requirements.

Review key financials such as the business' cash flow and profitability. Look for businesses with stable financial performance and growth potential. Consider the reputation of the existing business, including customer reviews and industry rankings, to gauge its market standing.

If you’re finding this process a bit overwhelming, don’t worry - you’re not the only one. Buying a business can be a complicated affair, but there is professional help available to help make things smoother. A business broker can assist you in finding the right business, negotiating terms and closing the deal. Our resources page can also provide you with tips and knowledge to help you make an informed decision.

3.) Make online enquiries

Once you have identified a potential business to buy, it's time to make enquiries.

Try to communicate your enthusiasm and showcase your understanding of the sector. Ask relevant questions about the business model, financial statements, the reason for the sale and any potential legal issues. This will provide you with crucial information, as well as demonstrate your seriousness as a buyer. Ensure you show your financial capability, too. Outline your financing plans, whether it's through personal savings, a business loan or equity financing.

Online enquiries can give you a wealth of information about the business. However, remember that they're only the starting point. Before proceeding further, you'll want to delve deeper into the business's operations, finances and employment contracts.

Knowledge is power at this stage of the buying process. By conducting thorough research, you can ensure you're making a sound investment.

4.) Understand your financing options

Before taking the plunge, it’s also important you understand the financing options available to you, such as business loans and grants.

Most business purchases involve some degree of debt financing. This could be through commercial loans from banks or credit unions. You'll probably also have to consider leveraging your personal savings. It's essential to fully comprehend the terms of any business loan, as it could affect your cash flow for years to come.

Alternatively, you might consider equity financing. This involves securing investment from venture capital firms or angel investors. Keep in mind that this often involves shared ownership, so you're giving away a part of your business.

An often overlooked but viable option is friends and family financing. This involves borrowing or receiving investments from people that are close to you, but it can risk personal relationships if the business doesn't go as planned.

No matter which path you choose, don't forget to seek financial advice. It's crucial to familiarise yourself with the business' financial history and ensure you have clear financial management plans.

5.) Prepare for negotiations

Negotiation is a vital aspect of buying a business. Establishing trust and mutual understanding with the current owner is key.

Start by defining your negotiation goals. What's your ideal purchase price? What terms of sale are you comfortable with? What are your "red lines"? Being prepared with answers to these questions can give you confidence during negotiations.

At times, negotiations can be challenging. If the seller is unreasonable, don't be afraid to walk away. Show the seller your willingness to abandon the deal if it doesn't benefit you. It might also be beneficial to have a business broker involved at this stage. They can assist in negotiations, bringing their experience and expertise to the table. Remember, it's always okay to ask for help!

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6.) Conduct due diligence

Once negotiations are over and you've agreed on the terms of the sale, it's time for due diligence. This is the process of thoroughly checking the business before finalising the purchase.

  • Commercial due diligence involves understanding the business's day-to-day operations and market position. This includes a deep dive into the business model, financial records, employment contracts and potential business assets.
  • Financial due diligence is equally important. Here, you check financial transactions, cash flow and financial statements. This helps ensure that you are paying a fair price for the business.
  • Legal due diligence is where a business lawyer comes in. They help navigate through the complexities of business law and employment law, ensuring that all legal aspects of the business are in order.

Lastly, don't forget about the business’s tax situation. Engaging a tax professional can help you understand the current and potential future tax implications.

Due diligence is all about caution. It's your opportunity to uncover any existing problems before they become yours. Take your time, and be thorough!

7.) Close the deal

Closing the deal, the final step of buying an existing business, brings along its own set of challenges. It's where your diligence, negotiation skills and financial planning all come together. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Set a firm timeline. Inject urgency by setting a deadline for finalising the deal. This helps keep things moving forward and prevents the process from stalling.
  • Always maintain trust. The trust you've built with the seller throughout the process shouldn't dwindle at this stage. Instead, make efforts to nurture it further.
  • Stay professional and cautious. Think before you speak or share information with the seller. Remember, you're on the verge of owning a business, and each word matters.
  • Don't hold back your doubts. If there are questions that need to be answered or details that need to be clarified, now is the time.

    Another important step is to review the business agreement and other contracts meticulously. If you spot inconsistencies in financials, an unwillingness on the seller’s part to renegotiate, or something just seems off, don't ignore these warning signs.

Getting started as a new business owner

Once the agreement is signed, the legal ownership is transferred. The business you've been eyeing, evaluating and negotiating for is now yours!

The employees, the business premises and the existing customers are all part of your journey now. Embrace it and embark on this exciting new phase of being a business owner.

You can start searching for the right business on, or contact our team for further assistance. We’re always here to help.

Stuart Wood

About the author

Stuart is Editorial Manager at He has worked as Editor for a B2B publisher, Content Manager for a PR firm, and most recently as a Copywriter for Barclays.