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How to choose a sector when buying a business

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The biggest decision you'll make when buying a business is probably the decision to buy one in the first place.

But there are plenty more decisions along the way, all of which will affect your future career path, the skills you use and develop, and how you spend your working day. One of the most significant of these is choosing a sector for your new business. 

It sounds like good sense to start out with a sector in which you already have career experience, but this isn't always practical, or what you want.

Perhaps you are looking for a complete change of direction, or maybe going into business is an entirely new venture unrelated to anything you have done before. Luckily, it is more than possible to make a success of your business without years of experience in the field.

Examine your skill set. What are the strengths you bring to your current occupation, and what has it taught you? Are you a creative, a planner, or a leader? Think beyond your job, too. Perhaps buying, fixing and running a home has given you experience in budgeting, time management and DIY skills, or coaching a school sports team has made you realise you're good at bringing out the best in other people.

Where could you use these skills to your best advantage? Could your love of driving and your navigational abilities equip you to run a haulage firm, or your people skills suit you to the hospitality industry?

What do YOU like to do?

Your hobbies and interests can also help you pick a sector. If you choose a business area related to one of your passions, it can make the long hours of hard work that go with running a business seem more like fun. A personal interest in the company's products or services will help you commit to the business and go the extra mile for your clients, and the clients will notice.

 A personal interest in the company's products or services will help you commit to the business and go the extra mile for your clients, and the clients will notice.

If you're concerned about a lack of experience, taking on a fully-fledged business with an experienced staff is a good way to break into a new market sector, as there will be plenty of old hands around to show you the ropes. You may have a hard time convincing your new employees that you know best when you want to make changes, however.

Alternatively, buy a business to fill a niche. If you've noticed a gap in the market, you can be pretty sure other people also want whatever's missing. Acquiring and adapting an existing business can be a quicker and cheaper way of achieving what you need that starting from scratch.

This may well involve entering a sector, such as catering or retail, in which you have little or no experience, but you will already have a good idea of the sort of customer you're aiming to attract, and what they want, since they'll be a lot like you.

By now you should have a good idea of how you work best. Are you solitary or a team leader? Do you like interacting with the public, or creating beautiful objects undisturbed behind closed doors? Early bird or night owl? The answers should help guide you towards a sector you can make your own.

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