Conducting research when buying a business

Seeking professional advice when buying a business

There are many different advisers that can help when buying a business but if you are buying a registered company you can do some checks yourself as many of the documents you require, such as profit and loss accounts, will be available from Companies House via their online WebCHeck service.

It is possible to obtain copies of a company's accounts, annual return and other key documents. The documents can be downloaded, some at a small fee. Find company information using Companies House WebCHeck.

Seeking expert advice

Other professionals worth contacting for expert advice include:

  • Business transfer agents, business brokers or corporate financiers can help you through the process of due diligence from start to finish for a fixed fee or percentage of the sale price.
  • A solicitor or lawyer will be able to help by looking at any legal contracts, including property deeds, for example. Choose a solicitor for your business.
  • An accountant will be able to help you by looking at the business' finances, such as profit and loss accounts. Choose and work with an accountant.
  • You can get help with intellectual property protection issues. An intellectual property agent will be able to search for any intellectual property licences the business holds. The Intellectual Property Office can also carry out searches on existing patents.
  • A chartered surveyor will be able to help you assess the value of the business' property.

Ensure advisers have relevant professional experience

It is essential that the advisers you choose are experienced in business transfers and valuations.

Word of mouth is the best way to find a good adviser. Always ask any potential adviser about the last five deals they have worked on in the relevant sector and ask for references from previous clients.

You should also check that your advisers hold any necessary qualifications or certification and are members of relevant associations or trade bodies.