Avoid costly surprises when buying a business

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Buying a business is a major financial decision that needs much homework and understanding.

In any way, you need to look for the hidden costs, potential risks, past mistakes, and everything else before acquisition. It highlights the need for a buyer’s due diligence while acquiring a business.

If you are an amateur and don’t understand how to avoid costly surprises while acquiring a business, we are here to help you. This comprehensive guide will help you buy a business most efficiently.

Table of contents

●  10 Hidden costs in a business?
●  What are the ways to avoid costly surprises while acquiring a business?
●  Conclusion

10 Hidden costs in a business?

Before you purchase a business, look into the price you need to pay above the asking price. Here are some popular hidden costs buyers overlook and step into the mud.

1. Past mistakes
Often, the seller is unaware of an error they made before selling the business. The potential risks can be VAT to other taxes, payroll, disruption in employment laws, unpaid loans, etc.

Due diligence is essential as it informs you about historical liabilities. You can reduce the selling price by considering all other business purchase-related costs.

2. Long-term customer contract
To improve the short-term cashflow, businesses often sign up for life or long-term contracts, which may not be well documented in the accounting or other systems.

3. Pending legal cases
It is often hard to find a list of potential legal cases against a business. If the business operates in an area where regulations are lacking, for example, cryptocurrencies, ask your due diligence team to pay specific attention to any regulatory changes on the business model and sustainability.

4. Re-equipping business
If the business suffered a significant loss in the last few years, you must refurbish the company to start everything from scratch. It may sound easy, but it costs a lot to your pockets.

At times, the new owner must reconstruct the premises before starting the business.

You must consider all the necessary maintenance and update costs, including servicing company vehicles, replacing old equipment, and leasing fees.

5. Hiring professionals
While purchasing a business with a complex legal structure, you may need to hire experts to understand all risks and dynamics. Hiring professionals means higher fees that you pay from pocket.

6. Meeting compliance
Your business must meet legal obligations, ensuring your business license and registrations are updated and you have the right insurance coverage.

If the previous owner sells out a business by hiding their legal obligations, like not complying with client money regulations or carrying on a regulated activity without being regulated, you can be liable for it.

7. Employee costs
You can be the sole owner of a business, but running it without employees can be hectic.

Hiring employees and paying them via PAYE means enrolling for payroll management. Plus, you pay employee benefits like paid sick leave and others to retain them. All these together increase your business expenses.

8. Training costs
When buying a business, you aim to reach the top. It is only possible when you and your staff stay updated with market trends and acquire the latest skills. It needs a lot of training that costs you money.

9. Marketing costs
To restart a business, you need to focus on the marketing elements. It ensures your brand reaches to target audience that makes them connect with you, driving sales. However, marketing and advertising costs can be high according to your needs.

10. Website charges
If the business already has a website, you need to spend a few on updating it and adding information.

However, if there was no website in the first place, you need to consult an expert to get a perfect website defining your brand. Besides designing, site hosting, security and maintenance costs increase your budget.

What are the ways to avoid costly surprises while acquiring a business?

Buying a business saves the struggle of setting up a startup. However, the current owner may have various reasons to sell the business, and you must be concerned about it. Getting in touch with surprise internal issues can be hard, but here are a few steps to avoid costly surprises:

1. Due diligence
Before you get an opportunity to run the business, you must spend a lot of time on proper research. You can meet with old employees, look at the accounting structure, understand business operations, and consider business issues and opportunities beforehand.

2. Understand the reason for business sale
You should always ask the owner about the real cause of their business cell. Once you know the whole story, you must investigate if it is true. You cannot spend millions on a business drowning in a financial crisis and show no chance of making a profit sooner.

3. Have a transition plan
Two businesses don’t need to work in a similar pattern. You must have a transition plan to retain or replace current employees.

Furthermore, ensure that you are okay with the old management system or want changes.

4. Stay calm
You must stay calm and organised while buying a business, even when it gets tricky or passes through a painstaking process.

Get professional help from lawyers, corporate finance professionals and accountants who better understand business scenarios, needs, risks, and opportunities.

5. How to figure out how much cash you need?
You need a business plan to determine how much cash you need to buy and run a business. A prudent approach here will be to overestimate expenses while underestimating revenue- a worst-case scenario.

Before calculating the costs, understand how to run a business. You may seek legal and accounting advice on business restructuring, accounting structure remodelling, and other related legal and financial modelling.

Although buying a business excludes startup struggles, you need to spend money and time to restart functioning from scratch. It includes marketing and branding, looking for professionals, employee new staff, and others.

Sit down and list all you need in the business formation and bring it to the public, create a plan, and start looking for funds.


Buying a business can bring unavoidable surprises, but you can stay prepared for a few.

Get your experts on the team to understand a business’s financial situation, and decide whether it will be a good or bad investment.

Consider taking legal advice as you may stay compliant with the country’s rules and regulations, and an accountant can deal with all the financial confusion.

Experlu Editorial Team
The editorial team at Experlu is comprised of seasoned financial professionals dedicated to providing high-quality content on accounting and finance. With a wealth of experience and diverse expertise, the team produces insightful articles that have established the Experlu blog as the UK's leading financial and accounting resource. The team includes accountants, auditors, and business advisors who stay updated with the latest industry developments. Their commitment to excellence ensures that Experlu remains a trusted source of information, helping readers stay informed about audit, business, finance, and tax matters.