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April 17, 2024

Starting Up vs. Buying Out: Sylvie Froger, An Entrepreneur Who’s Done Both, Shares Her Wisdom

Sylvie Froger built a business from scratch; then, she bought one. Here are her 7 tips to acquire a business.

Starting Up vs. Buying Out: Sylvie Froger, An Entrepreneur Who’s Done Both, Shares Her Wisdom

Sylvie, in her own words

  • French-born and a marketer at heart, I've called London home for over 20 years. I'm passionate about leveraging technology and automation to empower people.
  • I believe in freeing up time to focus on what truly matters to people, privately and professionally.
  • As a business owner, I built a successful services company from the ground up in London and recently acquired a thriving SaaS business I'm now growing with my marketing skills.

Sylvie Froger wanted to escape the corporate world, and she did it by solving a problem she experienced when she had to relocate for work more than a decade ago. After surviving the "nightmare" of moving to London, Sylvie created a stress-free solution to help people do the same. That's how Simply London, her first business, was born. 

"I got fed up with the corporate world and wanted to do my own thing. That was 12 years ago, I built this from scratch, and it's still going." But she didn't stop there.

"I started to think about a pre-retirement plan which involved having more than one source of revenue. I needed an additional source of income and I've always liked the creation of businesses.

"It's exaggerated, but I love learning, I love new things, and I love tech, so all of this combined led me to think: well, maybe I could actually acquire an online business that I can work on in my spare time."

In this interview, Sylvie shares the lessons she learned from buying an existing tech business, the issues she encountered, what she would've done differently, and how Boopos helped her. If you want to buy or sell a business, here's a lot of wisdom worth reading!

How Boopos helped Sylvie gain confidence and finance her acquisition

Sylvie learned about Boopos through podcasts that discussed the topic of flipping businesses.

"Boopos made it possible for me to think that I could finance it because I wasn't sitting on a pile of cash, so I needed external financing. I wouldn't have known how to raise funds or things like that; that's not how I built my first business; I built it from scratch without raising any funds.

"So Boopos gave me the confidence, a little bit of security as well with the pre-approved businesses." Although Sylvie recognizes this is not a guarantee, it is helpful to know that the business has no major problems.

"I also came across the concept of seller financing which I used as well".

Sylvie acquired PowerImporter, a tool for easily updating Webflow websites from Airtable, CSV, and WordPress. "PowerImporter is about saving people time, and that's something I'm very passionate about. So the product also fitted my personal taste for the type of service or product I wanted to bring to people."

7 tips from Sylvie Froger

1. Write down the best & worst-case scenarios

"I think the biggest worry was that financially, I would struggle to repay all the debt I had to take to buy this business, knowing that I was sitting on no cash at all. 

"What I did was lots of calculations: best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios, and then I looked at: What happens if we're in the worst-case scenario? Can this be sustainable?"

2. Ask for documentation

One of the biggest challenges Sylvie faced was the lack of documentation. Although this hasn't given her business technical problems, it has made problem-solving slower.

"Everything had been developed by the seller, so it was all in his head. There was pretty much no documentation, technical, or actually any documentation on the business, so I had to extract information from his head by asking lots of questions. If I were to re-do it, I would request documentation as part of the buying process.”

3. Look for honesty in a seller

Her advice on what to look for in a seller comes down to honesty.

"(When) analyzing what might impact the business in the future negatively as of market trends, competitor products, changes in the tech world that could have an impact… I think that's really useful to get from the seller's perspective because they know their market, they know their product".

4. Choose a business that motivates you

Sylvie was able to combine both her passion and what made sense from a financial standpoint. But that's not always the case. 

"The business model that I purchased came with quite a very high margin, so I did both. I'm guessing it's not always possible, it depends also in which sector you are.", she recognizes.

"If your motivation is financial then maybe you don't need to be in a business whose product or service you love. As close as you get to what you love, whatever that is. It could be just the money or it could be the challenge, type of product. Does that make sense? Yes? Go ahead!"

5. Follow your intuition

"I would say avoid something that your intuition tells you to avoid, I think intuition is still very important. Facts obviously are, but also intuition, and it could be intuition about the sellers, it could be intuition about the type of business you're not really sure about".

6. Don't underestimate the cost and time of development

Although Sylvie planned to hire a coding specialist, she did not expect the time and cost that it would take.

"As with development, that's my lesson: it takes three times the time and ten times the cost, so whatever plan you've made in developing in the technological world, it will often be underestimated.

"If you buy a business which exists already it's fantastic because a lot is set up already, so there's major benefits in doing that compared to building from scratch."

7. Find a community

Sylvie recognized that she would love to be part of a community. And especially, she hopes to connect with other women who might have similar experiences.

"Another challenge for me was and still is to be a woman in tech. I don't want to put everything onto gender differences, but I felt very self-conscious and I still do being a woman in the tech world.

I still find it daunting but it's interesting, so I would also love to be able to connect with other women in the tech world to see what they think about it."

Why buying a business is a good path to follow

"Building on something that has been done fairly well or very well is a pleasure, so you buy time, obviously, when you buy a business that exists already".

In her case, the seller wanted to continue developing products but he understood that this particular business needed to scale on marketing. "The major benefit for me was that not a lot had been done marketing-wise, so there was a lot of potential."

Sylvie knew how difficult it was to build a company from scratch. Now, she also knows what acquiring one entails. If you have a similar experience or are just curious about buying an existing business, explore Boopos' marketplace.

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