I have the opportunity to buy an established Interior Design company. I have always been a salaried employee in my past jobs, so I have no experience with purchasing a business. Where is, or what are, the best resources to learn about the legal ramifications of purchasing an existing business in California? I'm particularly interested in how to protect myself before, during, and after the purchase. Yet I'm not in a position to hire attorney's and tax accountants for all of my questions (assuming they'll want $150-300 per hour). Any advice/assistance would be most appreciated!!
4 Answers from Attorneys
Try nolo press or nolo.com. They have a number of self help legal books.
Although I understand the nature of your question and the predictament you present, there is not substitute for good and comprehensive preparation for purchasing a business. As a gneral rule you have heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...and that is the case here in that you can invest about $1,000.00 in an attorney to review what you are contemplating or you can pay the attorney later to help sort out the issues at five to ten times the initial amount...so, I would strongly recommend that you invest the money with an attorney of your choice and have him/her review the doucments and offer some sound advise...note the websites below.
Shawn Jackson ESQ. (707) 584-4529
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I'd get two paperback self-help books for the new business owner, emphasizing the legal and accounting aspects of acquiring (or starting) your own business. Nolo Press is a respected publisher of such books (and there may be two "Nolo" companies based on a split in the owning family). Be sure the books you get have a California orientation. Also, I'd suggest trying to make the acquaintance of a couple of owners of similar businesses that are far enough away so they won't consider you a competitor. Many small-business owners love to share their experiences with others following in their footsteps (but at a safe distance).
Get several appraisals of the business. All too often people overpay for nothing but goodwill that leaves out the door. Also get a non-compete agreement with the seller.
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