Which One: Buy or Build A Business?


Joel Garreau, a writer for the Washington Post, in his book Edge City described a phenomenon I see benefitting the majority of my clients. We know that people have been moving from the cities to the suburbs. There is some indication that this trend may be slowing. There is talk of some people moving back into the cities and revitalizing them.

In the meanwhile, Suburbia is maturing not only into a place to live, but a place to live, work, and shop. "Suburbia" is transforming into what Joel Garreau calls "Edge City." I highly recommend his book Edge City:Life on the New Frontier, which you can get from Barnes & Noble. You can also get a taste of his work in a follow-up article called Edgier Cities.

What does all this mean to you, my client?

It means that if you buy a business that already exists, consider carefully:

  1. Is this yesterday's business? Is it in an area from which the population is moving away?
  2. It might be in an area to which people are moving back. Is there any solid reassuring evidence? Are there any new nearby stores such as Alberton's, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Office Depot, Home Depot, Lowe's, Super WalMart and others?
  3. If you are getting it from a larger multi-state company, why does the company not want to keep it? Sometimes you can get a worthwhile business this way, but be careful.

It means that more often you should consider building a new business.

  1. "Hire" a professional commercial agent to help you locate available property in an area that will continue to grow. I like Keller Williams for this.
  2. Buy a good marketing study. Find one that specializes in that businesss.
  3. Be prepared, however, for a rapidly increasing complexity. See my article "Buying Another Business? It's Getting Complicated!"