What It’s Like To Buy A Business Out Of State

Team Acquira
-  October 3, 2022
What You’ll Learn
  • How one Acquisition Entrepreneur and his family dealt with buying a business out of state.
  • Why you need to refine your investment thesis.
  • What one Acquisition Entrepreneur did with their house when they moved out of state.
  • How and why that Acquisition Entrepreneur kept an open line of communication with their spouse through the business search process.

If you go through Acquira's training, one phrase you'll see a lot is “location agnostic.” What that means is, that the more places you're willing to look to buy a business, the more likely it is that you'll find one that matches your unique investment thesis.

But of course, buying something in a different state or region of the country comes with its own host of problems and issues that you might have to navigate. It can include uprooting your family if you buy in a different state or leaving friends and family behind as you work to grow the business. 

One acquisition entrepreneur who recently went through a situation like this is Ken Lavertu. He lived with his wife and three kids in South Carolina where he had sold his previous business. Eventually, he acquired another business and bought a company that manufactures and installs granite countertops in Florida. This meant moving his family from South Carolina to Florida, where they knew nobody, so Ken could dive into growing the business. 

We wanted to look at what it truly takes to be location agnostic, so we talked to Ken about what he learned through the process and his advice for fellow Acquisition Entrepreneurs.

Why Look Out-of-State?

Most Acquisition Entrepreneurs begin their business search close to home. It makes sense, given that they know the region, they're acquainted with the customer base and are potentially more familiar with local laws and regulations.

But this can also be detrimental. Confining your search can cut you off from potentially great deals and hotter markets, and increase the time it takes to complete an acquisition, so it makes sense to begin looking further afield. This was the case with Ken.

“We were on the path of looking for a business in our backyard. More along the lines of an HVAC company; more of the recession resilient businesses that Acquira talks about,” Ken explains. “It's very difficult to find one where we were. It's not that we didn't have a concentration of population, it just wasn't the right opportunity, especially the right size business.”

Fortunately, Ken had a well-defined investment thesis that ensured he knew what he was looking for. It was that thesis that told him he should start looking further afield.

“I really wanted something around a million-dollar-plus,” he says.

That knowledge caused him to expand his search. Shortly after, he found a pair of businesses that looked like they might be the right fit. The only issue was that both of those businesses were located in Florida.

“We had to decide on whether or not we were going to buy a business in Florida, and what that meant for my family,” Ken says. 

It was going to be a tough decision for the family. Ken's wife's family lived within ten minutes. They had strong roots in the community. And the idea of walking away from all of that was daunting, to say the least. 

“We've had kids there, we got married there 15 years ago. So it was a really big ask,” he says.

The Importance Of Communication

can you register a business in another state

Even before he found the businesses in Florida, Ken knew that a truly great business acquisition might mean moving his family.

“Slowly over time, I kind of thought we should at least start talking about it,” he explains. “Like, what does it look like? What if I did find a business in another state? Where would it be? What's too far?”

When he eventually found the companies in Florida, he knew it was time to start talking seriously about what that sort of decision would mean for his family. This led to an ongoing dialogue between him and his wife, he says.

“We actually just had a heart-to-heart talk, my wife and I, just the other night about the state of our marriage,” he says. “I know that she kind of feels a little bit alone right now. So, how do we make those connections with the church? And then also with family back home? We're working through it. It's a challenge but overall the kids are happy.

Even before the move, Ken made a point of getting everyone on board. The purpose here is to communicate, not to try and convince. 

I would say get buy-in from your partner and talk to your kids a lot about it before you do it. We did that a lot and I think it really helped.

“I would say get buy-in from your partner and talk to your kids a lot about it before you do it. We did that a lot and I think it really helped,” he shares.

One issue that was especially trying for the family was satisfying their need for community. In South Carolina, they were part of a church they liked, and finding something that suited them in their new home has been difficult.

“We went to the same church for, like, 13 years and we were just well-connected. [Our previous church was] small. This is a bigger church,” Ken says. “So it just takes work to develop new relationships from scratch. It's work and there's a lot of vulnerability. It's a lot of risk-taking when discussing starting friendships from the beginning. Everyone's been kind and seems like a good church, but it's just extending yourself. That's a new exercise. So you've got to work those muscles again.”

Should You Sell Your House When You Buy A Business?

how to do business in another state

There are many things to consider when it comes to moving your family across state lines. For Ken and his family, one of the biggest considerations was what to do with their house.

“It was really overwhelming,” he says. “We're really attached to our house. Do we sell it or do we not sell it?  What happens in a year or two if we come back?”

Ken and his wife decided to rent out their house fully furnished so that they could return to it in the future. 

Ken is currently working to implement the ACE Framework at his business, which will ensure an effective leadership team is in place and, ideally, he'll be able to step away from the day-to-day operations of the business, providing them an opportunity to return home.

Conclusion: It's Different For Every Family

This arrangement is what worked for Ken and his family. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's for everyone. 

Other Acquisition Entrepreneurs we've worked with have decided not to move their families, and the AE commuted a few days each week to the business. This arrangement can also be very trying for some families. 

Keep an open dialogue with your partner about your expectations, wants, and hopes for the future, Ken says. As long as everyone is on the same page, things are much more manageable. Importantly, Ken says neither he nor his wife regrets buying a business out of state. They're just excited about the adventure.

If you'd like to acquire your own business or learn more about Acquira's training, we recommend starting with the Accelerator Program. The program is designed to find you a business in half the time at half the cost it would take to do it on your own. To learn more, fill out the form on this page.

Key Takeaways

  • A well-defined investment thesis will help ensure you find the right business, no matter where it is.
  • Broadening your geographic search will help you find a business that fits your unique investment thesis.
  • Ensure you communicate with your spouse or partner about where you're looking for a business.
  • You may not want to sell your house right away.
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