Direct contact with business owners whom you may interest in selling
Business for sale websites
Cautions in Buying an Existing Business
Firstly, when buying an existing business, heed the old caution, "Buyer Beware".
Secondly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney experienced in business acquisitions. You may also need an accountant but your attorney will know if that is necessary. Depending on the size and complexity of the bookkeeping, the need for a full and careful audit may be indicated.
Interviews of existing employees may also be recommended. While some may be sufficiently loyal to the current owner, most will be more concerned with their continuing of employment. In any case, interviews should be in private.
I also recommend talks with customers, especially those with overdue accounts. Remember that it appears to be 'human nature' to express dissatisfaction more readily than satisfaction.
Finally, if a business is currently losing money, this does not mean that you should necessarily avoid it. You may have talents, abilities and experience the current owner lacks and can turn the business around. This is frequently the hope of new business owners who display 'Under New Management' signs on their newly acquired businesses. You really need to look at the fiscal trend over a few years as well as the numbers of customers buying from the business. There are many situations that can make a good business go sour. In any case, you should really have the advice of professionals.
About the Author
Zzyvko Marjanovitch ('Dr. Z') and the Activizers Group of Wheatley Memorial Institute of Information Sciences (http://www.activizers.com) have specialized in the conception and implementation of small, family-owned businesses and computer-oriented marketing since the Sixties. Their efforts have spanned from medical and personal service, through small catalog order enterprises to small 'brick and mortar' retail stores. They have designed and conducted hundreds of marketing studies and conducted many seminars on these subjects.