Starting up or taking over a company: pros and cons

When you think entrepreneurship and dream of becoming an entrepreneur, the first thing that usually comes to mind is to start your own business… Seems logical enough, doesn’t it?

After all, entrepreneurship is a means for fulfilling who you really are: by making your profession your passion, aiming for a higher income, building an activity that will grow alongside you and hoping for more flexibility in both your work schedule and your way of working.

But we often forget that there are other ways to become an entrepreneur, including intrapreneurship, which we’ll not look at in this article, and the possibility of taking over an existing business – especially in Luxembourg where many, many companies will be up for grabs in years to come.

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Sure, taking over a business means you won’t have total control and may have to forfeit a portion of your own dream, which seems to be a no-go for a certain number of entrepreneurs. Yet it must be said that starting a business from scratch requires significant sacrifice too… A takeover is a ready-made opportunity for an entrepreneur to realize that some of their ideas may have to be set aside for a project to see the day. If it doesn’t meet the expectations of clients and partners, it’ll likely stay on the shelf. “Takeover” entrepreneurs have, for the most part, taken stock of that and are prepped and willing to evolve alongside someone else’s project, and the many challenges that come with it (taking over a team, business dossiers, etc…), nonetheless with the knowledge that it has already pulled through the “adaptation period” and achieved a certain degree of success with its existing clients.

So beyond the pros and cons of the different forms of entrepreneurship, it’s essential to see that the difference is often found in the very mindset of the entrepreneur; in a certain way, being able to consider a takeover requires more “entrepreneurial maturity.”

On a more mundane level, I would say the pros of starting-up a business can be resumed in these few points:

  • It often requires less initial investment since you can start small and grow over time, while a takeover can involve taking on debt to buy out production tools, business capital, etc…,
  • It allows you to launch “your” project with fewer constraints than a takeover, and without waiting to find “the right fit” like with a takeover,
  • It gives you more time to develop entrepreneurial skills and other skills relating to your business area, this may include handling administrative tasks, developing effective prospecting techniques, communicating about your company, knowing what you need to do yourself and what you can delegate, managing a team, etc…

Taking over a business has its advantages too:

  • You don’t start from scratch and can often benefit from the experience and expertise of the seller, who may be able to coach you through the transition. This is ideal for avoiding the hurdles and fumbles met by many an entrepreneur in their first months of business,
  • You have an existing foundation that eases talks with potential financers, be it banks or other, unlike a startup with no figures to present more than assumptions and forecasts,
  • You can potentially make profit and live from it from the very beginning.

Plus, in certain sectors such as liberal professions, the only possible way in is by taking over an existing business.

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In closing, if you’re considering taking over or starting-up a business, my advice to you is to take time to explore both options and contemplate the required skills, entailed commitments (both personal and financial), and of course, to always remember why you chose to become an entrepreneur, because when it boils down to it, staring a business means forging your own path to self-accomplishment and a happy life.

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