Business Secrets Exposed – The Four Tips for Buying a Business

Dominique Grubisa Dominique Grubisa

Most entrepreneurs don’t know that sometimes it’s better to buy an existing business than start your own. In this article, DG Institute founder and CEO Dominique Grubisa provides tips on how you can do that, even if you have no finance for the purchase.

Most entrepreneurs believe that starting their own business is the only option open to them.

They don’t know that it’s often easier to take over a business that’s a going concern and steer it. 

That leads to them sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into their ventures. This is despite the fact that they could take ownership of a business without any finance.

This article explains a few of the techniques that you can use to do that. Before that, let’s look at why buying a business is the better option in the first place.

The Problem With Start-Ups

The simple fact is that the vast majority of Australian start-ups fail.

According to the Australian Financial Review:

“An oft-cited rule of thumb is that anywhere from three-quarters to 90 percent of all start-ups ‘fail’, which is to say they don’t make it to a trade sale or IPO, and are wound up.”

Often, an entrepreneur will have a brilliant idea that they’re extremely passionate about. However, they won’t have the money required to get that idea off the ground. That means they go to the bank and borrow or they take out another mortgage on their own home.

This leaves them under a mountain of debt that they need to clear before the business can make any profit.

The owner runs out of money and they end up contributing to the above statistic.

The Better Option

An airplane uses the lion’s share of its fuel during take-off. Once the plane is in the air, it can go into autopilot and the fuel consumption drops dramatically.

Businesses work in the same way.

Starting a business takes the vast majority of your effort. You have to find the money to start it and put everything in place to drive revenue. However, things get a lot easier once the business is up and running.

That’s why buying a going concern is the better option. You don’t have to lodge the crowbar underneath it and do all of the heavy lifting. Even if the business is in distress, it has almost everything in place already.

That means a far lower investment of time and money on your end if you can take ownership of such a business.

This is what the savviest people in business do. Instead of starting their own enterprises, they acquire existing businesses and make tweaks to turn a profit.

Why is Now the Time?

Australia used to have a culture of punishment for businesses that found themselves in distress. The laws wouldn’t allow them to trade while insolvent and company directors took direct responsibility for the business’ debt.

This led to a range of problems. For example, a business could experience a temporary cash flow issue. Even if the business had plans to rectify the issue, the owner had a duty to go into administration or liquidise the business.

The Productivity Commission examined this situation in 2015. They made several conclusions, including the following:

“A ‘safe harbour’ defence should be introduced to allow directors of a solvent company to explore, within guidelines, restructuring options without liability for insolvent trading.”

As a result of these findings, Australia created ‘safe harbour’ laws in July 2018. These provide business owners with a set period in which they can restructure an insolvent business. 

These owners can now put plans in place to fix the issue. Those plans may involve having somebody like you take ownership to solve the business’ problems and make it solvent again.

What This Means for You

This simple change to the law has created a large number of motivated sellers.

It creates the opportunity for you to step into a distressed business without any risk of doing damage to yourself. With the right strategies, you can turn that business around and make a profit.

Beyond this, it’s still eminently possible to acquire a going concern that’s turning a profit.

In Australia, we currently have a supply and demand mismatch in the business world. There’s an entire generation of profitable company owners who want to retire.

Many of them can’t find someone to buy or take over the business. What happens is that they end up closing the doors and walking away.

Again, this provides a clear opportunity for you.

Now, you need to know how you may be able to take advantage of that opportunity, even if you don’t have finance. Here are four tips that may help you to do it.

Tip #1 – Step Into a Failing Business

You have the option of stepping into a failing business that the owner wants to walk away from.

In this scenario, you take over the business and stop all payments going out. You’ll speak to the previous owner’s creditors and talk to them about your plans. You’re going to step in and take an in-depth look at what’s happening with the business. While you’re conducting this review, you’re going to cease all debt repayments.

Remember that the onus is on the creditor to chase the debt that the previous owner created. Now that you’ve taken over, they can see a potential light at the end of the tunnel. This means they’re likely to grant you some time to look at how to restructure the business.

During this time, the business still operates. This means you’re building a war chest of funds that you can use to negotiate new payment plans with these creditors. You may be able to arrange a new repayment schedule or even negotiate a deal that sees you pay pennies on the dollar of the previous debt.

Tip #2 – Use Vendor Finance

This is an option if you’re stepping into a profitable business where the owner wants to retire.

With vendor finance, you create an arrangement wherein the previous owner receives their money over time.

For example, imagine that the owner wants $400,000 for the business. Instead of paying that up front, you can create a plan where you pay a certain amount each month until you reach the desired figure.

Tip #3 – Work Into the Business

It’s possible that you have skills that a business will find desirable.

For example, you may have a lot of IT experience, which a business that hasn’t gone digital yet will find valuable.

This allows you to work into the business. You could create a structure where you receive 50% of the shares to enter the business and implement your expertise. The owner then has the option of buying back those shares or allowing you to buy out their shareholding.

You’re creating a win-win situation while gaining more experience that you could take elsewhere if needed.

Tip #4 – Conduct a Turnaround

Whether it’s a profitable or distressed business, you can use your skills to leverage your way into an ownership position.

For example, you may be able to come in and plug some holes in the bucket. This may involve cutting unprofitable product lines and simplifying things so you focus on what works.

The key is that you can bring something into the business that leads to better fortune.

Create Your Path to Business Ownership

The key takeaway here is that starting your own business is not the only option open to you. In fact, that may be the most dangerous option in a climate that makes acquiring a business easier than ever.

These tips may help you to achieve an ownership stake even if you have no money.

DG Institute covers these strategies, and many more, in our Business Turnaround Program. 

If you’re interested in learning how to takeover & turnaround businesses for profit with no money down or minimal financial risk, join the upcoming Business Turnaround Event. Register now

Good Debt Vs Bad Debt With Dominique Grubisa - DG Institute

Lawyer, Asset Protection Specialist and Property Educator

Dominique Grubisa is a practising legal practitioner with over 22 years of legal and commercial experience. She is a property investor and developer, an entrepreneur with businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia, a speaker, educator, writer and published author. You may contact Dominique at

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

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