What are you interested in or excited about? If the business you want to own does not yet exist, it may be up to you to start it. Otherwise, look into existing businesses for sale in an industry that you care about to see if anything looks like a potential fit. Buying an existing business vs. starting your own is not a reflection of the amount of passion or interest you have, but rather a matter of where you can best put that passion to work.
Starting a business from scratch requires an all-in single-mindedness that is committed to choosing the business over all other obligations. As a startup entrepreneur, every decision and outcome is on you. Perhaps you are interested in owning, running, and growing a business, but without the do-or-die pressure of getting (and keeping) a startup off the ground. Buying an established business allows you to build on an existing foundation rather than submit to the all-consuming nature of starting a business from scratch.
How much capital do you have available? One benefit of starting your own business is crafting it according to your available capital. It’s true that buying an existing business will have upfront costs. However, it is also easier to get financing for buying a business vs starting one. Lenders and investors are much more comfortable working with a business that has a proven track record.
An existing business, in most cases, will generate cash flow while most startups will not. Startups require an upfront investment with little to no initial return. Consider how long it may take to break even and how you will continue to fund the business (and support yourself) until it becomes profitable. On the other hand, a business worth buying will have existing cash flow that will free you up to focus on growing the business rather than just staying afloat.
Are you motivated and equipped to establish a team of staff members and company infrastructure from the ground up? This is a crucial element of starting your own business. Buying an existing business offers the benefit of an existing and experienced staff & structure that you can step into and build upon — if you choose wisely. Do not underestimate the importance of ensuring you and the existing company are a good fit for each other. There will be a period of training and transition where the seller will provide the necessary tools to be successful in operating the business.
Some entrepreneurs relish the idea of creating a new company identity and building a client base from the ground up. This takes a great deal of time and skill though, and unless this is part of your specific passion, the lack of an existing client base will be more of a liability than an opportunity. Consider that a business worth buying will have already established recognition and credibility, which will provide a solid foundation on which you can continue to build.