Advice needed- I only meant to do freelance work to 'keep my hand in' but now I'm really busy and have been offered first refusal on a business for sale!(10 Posts)
Hi, I'm a frequent lurker to this board and have found it very useful, so any advice would be very welcome.
I am a mum of 2 preschoolers (3.5 and 16 months) and did not return to work following ny second maternity leave. I was a professional in the public sector but now my work is done privately. I have picked up some 'associate' work through a couple of well-established practices and have now got some clients of my own. In fact, I am really busy and am earning what I was when working full-time but on 2/3 days a week (without having to inhabit a grotty, mouse infested office or deal with lots of crappy 'policies', 'visions' and targets). Lovely! I feel that (with the exception of some weeks when I am run off my feet) I have a decent work/life balance, am being fulfilled professionally (I was seriously mummy-tracked in my last job) and am offering a good service to clients. All very nice.
One of the people who refers work to me has a small, but well respected practice. She is planning to semi-retire and hopes to sell this practice. I have been offered first refusal. I've not seen the books (which we'd obviously need to scour) but I know that the turnover is healthy, the price is very fair (she's selling it for the price of the equipment she has plus a little extra for 'goodwill', but for about a third of the annual turnover).
Basically, I would love to buy this business, but in about 2 years time, when my little ones are at school and I can really make a go of it. At the moment, I don't really feel experienced enough and would have to do a lot of 'winging it'. Much of the work would be managing referral streams, quality control and marketing, rather than doing my 'job'. There are lots of opportunities out there at the moment (in public sector outsourcing)and this business would help me to take advantage of this, but I'm not sure I have the ability or time to do that just now and I like my life and work at the moment. On the other hand, I don't want to pass up an opportunity like this and may be kicking myself when I am building up a practice from scratch (and competing with this business) in a few years time. Domestically, I am lucky in that I have very flexible childcare (mum who does two days a week and a flexible nanny) but take on the majority of the household responsibilities as DH has just been made up to partner in his firm (but is really supportive, when he IS home and happy to help out when he can).
Oh, someone just tell me what to do!!!
Do it! Sounds like a great opportunity. Don't forget that you would still be the boss, so whilst it will undoubtably be hard work, it will be for YOUR benefit, and for the financial security of your family.
Go for it! Could you maybe hire someone part-time to keep an eye on the parts of the business you can't manage now, and then take over in a couple of years when the DCs are in school?
Hmm, I would not. You've got preschoolers, you're already really busy and you're already earning what you were earning when you were working full time.
If you carry on as you are, you may be competing with this business in a few years' time, but so what? The business exists already and still you're really busy. How much competition can it be?
Thirdly, if you build up your own business, you have total control over it from the start. You can hire someone to do all the 'managing referral streams, quality control and marketing' bit that you're not interested in, as and when you need to. Plus, you wouldn't be 'winging it', putting an additional stress on your life when possibly you already feel a bit stretched?
What happens if you have another baby and there's no-one to run the business?
Sorry, pessimism overload. Good luck with whatever you decided to do.
IF she's 'semi-retiring' would she be willing to do a transitional year where you work together?
I think you need to really analyse why you want it.
Is it just because it seems serendipitous - you like the business, you like the bargain? Do you feel an opportunity like this won't come your way again? Are there other businesses like it that you know of? Try and work out if it has to be this business at this time. If it does, then do it. If you think, actually, I could build this up myself or buy one of the other hundred businesses doing this in a couple of years, then don't.
There has to be a reason why it has to be now, IMO. And if that reason's not strong enough then walk away. If it is compelling, then do it.
Thanks so much for the replies- all really helpful- I knew you would be!
I think that Wilson is right that I really need to look at the reasons for buying the business. My main issue is that there are not a hundred other businesses like this up for sale, in fact I've never heard of another one being sold and know all of the practices in this part of the country (about 10, in London and the South East) and so in that sense it's a great opportunity. Also, a few more are starting up now and I feel that owning this one (with it's 'branding', such as it is) would perhaps give me a bit of a head start. On the other hand, I know that there is a huge untapped market and I could build a practice of my own, running things the way I want, from scratch.
So many things to think about! But thanks for the ideas, they are really helping me see what the issues might be.
I'd support the idea of 'sharing with her' for a year or two - if nothing else to make sure the clients do not decamp after you have paid
Sharing with her sounds like a good plan if she's up for it. Also, why don't you think of ways to save a lot of time to cut down on "household responsibilities"? You could easily hire a cleaner and someone to come in to cook once in a while - I assume the business opportunity would definitely make it worth investing some money to save time on cleaning etc.. Think about your priorities - I understand why you would prioritise young children over a business opportunity, but household chores should not keep you from making beneficial long-term career choices.
The business sounds like a good deal at an attractive price - assuming the books as as you assume of course.
Go for it. Opportunity knocks, and you don't know if it will knock again. Yes it's super tough with little ones, I'm in the midst of it myself so I know, but in a year or two they'll be in school and you'll potentially have a lucrative and fulfilling career that will benefit them, nobody remembers being between 2 and 4 anyway. It's not like you have to go away and film on location for 18 months or something, i know it'll be spinning plates, but you'll have time for them and the work, you'll be busy and probably very happy to be so.
I think if you don't do it you'll regret it 'reading between the lines' of what you last said, yes it's not the ideal time, but that's not how opportunity works.
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