Did you know that according to a study by the Failory, a staggering 70% of businesses fail within the first two to five years after acquisition? One of the key reasons for this high failure rate is the lack of proper due diligence. 

Due diligence helps businesses uncover potential risks and liabilities, verify the information provided by the seller, and ultimately, assess the true value and potential of the business you are considering buying. By thoroughly examining the business's financial health, legal standing, operations, and market position, you can avoid costly surprises down the road. 

To do proper due diligence when buying a business in the US, we have compiled a due diligence checklist that you can quickly and easily go through to eliminate any risk.


What is Due Diligence in Business? 

Generally, due diligence means taking the precautions a responsible person would normally take to prevent causing injury or damage to others or their belongings.

Due diligence in business refers to the investigative process conducted by a potential buyer to gather and analyze all relevant information about a target business before entering into a purchase agreement. Its primary objectives are to:

• Identify potential risks and liabilities: Uncover any hidden issues that could impact the business's future profitability or value.

• Verify the accuracy of information provided by the seller: Ensure the financial statements, legal documents, and operational details presented are accurate and reliable.

• Assess the true value and potential of the business: Gain a comprehensive understanding of the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) to determine a fair purchase price and assess its future growth prospects.

Due diligence cannot only be performed on a business, it can also be performed on individuals or customers of a business. In this case, it is known as customer due diligence.


9 Steps to Conducting Due Diligence When Buying a Business in the US: Due Diligence Checklist


To ensure a thorough and effective due diligence process, follow these steps on how to conduct due diligence when buying a business in the US:

1. Define Your Goals and Assemble Your Team:

Goals: Clearly outline what you aim to achieve with the acquisition. Is it growth, market expansion, or product diversification?

Timeline: Set a realistic timeframe for due diligence, considering the complexity of the business and document availability.

Lawyer: An experienced M&A attorney ensures legal compliance and navigates contracts.

Accountant: A qualified public accountant (CPA) analyzes financial statements, identifies red flags, and assesses tax implications.

Other Specialists: Depending on the business, additional professionals like environmental consultants or intellectual property lawyers may be needed.

2. Sign a Letter of Intent (LOI):

• The LOI outlines your interest in buying the business, sets a timeframe for exclusive negotiations, and establishes confidentiality for sensitive information.

• It's not a binding contract but demonstrates your seriousness and grants access to confidential business documents.


3. Verifying the Business Financials:

Financial Statements: Request audited financial statements for at least 3-5 years, tax returns, and interim financials.

Financial Analysis: Your CPA will analyze profitability, trends, debt structure, and cash flow to assess the business's financial health.


4. Scrutinize Legal Documents and Contracts:

Review key contracts: Leases, loan agreements, supplier contracts, and customer contracts provide insight into the business's obligations and commitments.

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure the business complies with all relevant federal, state, and local regulations.


5. Evaluate the Business Model and Operations:

Business Plan Review: Analyze the seller's business plan and growth strategies to understand their vision and its alignment with yours.

Operational Assessment: Evaluate the efficiency of current operations, including staffing, inventory management, and technology infrastructure.


6. Assess Market and Competitive Landscape:

Market Research: Analyze industry trends, competitor landscape, and potential risks and opportunities in the target market.

Customer Satisfaction: Talk to existing customers to understand their experience and gauge brand loyalty. Consider surveys or focus groups.


7. Environmental Due Diligence:

• For certain businesses, environmental concerns may arise. Investigate potential environmental liabilities like hazardous waste or underground storage tanks.


8. Due Diligence on Employees:

• Review employee contracts, handbooks, and benefits plans to understand labor costs and potential liabilities.

• Consider interviewing key employees to assess their skills and morale, and understand the company culture, operations, and potential employee concerns post-acquisition.

• With the insights gained from due diligence, you can negotiate a more informed purchase price and terms that consider potential risks.

• Visit the business location and facilities to assess their condition and identify any compliance issues.


9. Negotiate and Finalize the Deal:

• With the insights gained from due diligence, you can negotiate a more informed purchase price and terms that consider potential risks.

• Finalize legal agreements with the help of your attorney.


Additional Tips:

• Maintain a secure virtual data room to organize and share documents with your team efficiently.

• Communicate effectively with the seller throughout the process. Transparency facilitates trust and can lead to a smoother negotiation.

• Be prepared to walk away if due diligence reveals significant red flags or the deal no longer aligns with your goals.

Also, read Enhanced Due Diligence Checklist


What are the Challenges to Conducting Due Diligence when Buying a Business in the US? 

Despite its importance, due diligence when buying a business in the US can be a complex process with several potential challenges such as:

Incomplete or Inaccurate Information: Sellers may not always provide complete or accurate information, making it essential to verify everything independently.

Resistance from the Seller: Sellers may be hesitant to share certain information or may try to limit the scope of due diligence. Open communication and clearly defined boundaries are crucial to navigating this challenge.

Time Constraints and Resource Limitations: Due diligence can be a time-consuming process, and buyers may not have the internal resources to conduct a thorough investigation. Partnering with experienced professionals and utilizing technology like digital verification services can help alleviate this challenge.


Overcoming these challenges requires the following strategies:

Leveraging Technology and Digital Verification Tools: Digital identity verification services can expedite the process, automate tedious tasks, and ensure the accuracy of information.

Engaging Experienced Professionals: Hiring qualified accountants, lawyers, and potentially business valuation experts can provide specialized knowledge and guidance throughout due diligence.

Maintaining Clear Communication and Transparency with the Seller: Open communication with the seller can help establish trust and address any concerns they may have about the due diligence process. Setting clear expectations at the outset regarding the scope and timeline of due diligence is also important.



Acquiring a business is a major investment. Thorough due diligence is crucial to mitigate risks and ensure a successful integration with your company. However, conducting due diligence when buying a business in the US isn't going to be quick. Sometimes, it may take 30 days or even more depending on the size of the business or transaction. Hence, you are likely going to need a professional to do thorough work if you must avoid losses.

Don't gamble on the future of your business. Achieving due diligence when buying a business in the US is easy when using Youverify’s operating system (YV OS). This innovative software is Youverify’s flagship product simplifies the process of know-your-business (KYB). 

Start by seeing how this works when you request a demo.