We’re already mid-way through 2019. Have you been keeping up with New Year’s resolutions? Or, have you achieved any New Year, New Me goals? No matter the case, it’s not too late to start now. If buying a business is on your professional bucket-list, this goal can be achieved a lot sooner than you think.

Between deciding on the right business type, screening sellers, and negotiating on a price, the timeline to becoming a business owner can take years. But, what if we told you that you could be a business owner by 2020? A recent study shows that a business sale can happen within 180 days — that’s less than six months. In this fast-paced world, buying a business in a short time span is a doable endeavor. And we’re here to help.

We created this guide to help business buyers quickly and effectively navigate the purchase process. So let’s start here. Together we can help you find, secure, and operate the business of your dreams in time for the New Year.

Preparation is Key

It’s important to make some of the key business decisions early on. This will help set a plan of action you can stick to throughout the journey.

What: The very starting point to any venture is determining which industry to enter. Take time to think about your personal interests and where you feel you would excel. Consider your field of study, previous experience, and personal and professional strengths and weaknesses.

Where: As the popular saying goes, it’s all about location, location, location. Deciding where to set up shop is a significant decision. Research different areas and learn about the demographics, product/service demand, volume of foot traffic, brand awareness, etc. This valuable information will help you decide which business types are most likely to thrive in your area and it will also help inform how to go about daily operations. Depending on the business you choose, you may also need to consider personal factors such as relocating, commute, and lifestyle.

How much: Your budget is everything. Take your time calculating your top offer now before the pressure of negotiating kicks in. You can speak to a professional or research online to uncover average asking prices and ongoing costs to help better anticipate and estimate these costs. This is also an ideal time to look into different financial options available to you for financing your new business purchase.

Build a Team of Experts

Buying a small business may be one of the biggest investments you ever make. And between negotiating, contacting sellers, and evaluating a company’s financial statements, you may feel overwhelmed. That’s why assembling a team of professionals can help you buy quickly, and intelligently.

Broker: A business broker is a valuable resource for completing a business transaction. This professional has expert skills in pre-screening sellers, evaluating a business’ goodwill, negotiating a fair asking price, and handling paperwork.

Accountant: Reviewing the financial records of any business for sale is an essential protocol in any business transaction. An accountant will help you better understand how to read these statements to make sound decisions. He or she can also help you secure financing for the down payment by helping you budget and apply for loans.

Get Started Right Away

Once your offer for a business is accepted, you should start managing and planning right away. There are many things you can do ahead of time so that the business can continue as usual, even with a new owner.

Start by considering your marketing strategy. How will you announce new management to customers and the public? You may opt for a direct-mail piece, a social media post, out-of-home billboards, radio ads, etc. Think about which business marketing channels will resonate best with your target audience.

Next, you can begin building relationships with key stakeholders. Introducing yourself to current employees, vendors, partners, suppliers, etc. will help ease the transition between owners since these stakeholders will already be familiar and comfortable with you.

Finally, you can start planning for the upcoming year of operation. From establishing a budget to setting goals, you want to map out your game plan. Take advantage of this down-time to get yourself, and the business, in order.

Buying a small business by 2020 is a realistic goal. With the right mindset, a strong support structure, and thorough preparation, you could be signing the deed in no time.