There are usually only two options for a career. Work for someone else or start a business, right? Nobody ever tells you about the third option - I was surprised that I didn't know until recently, even though I spent four years studying business in college.
I'm talking about buying a business. Many people would love to work for themselves but don't know what business to start, or can't come up with an idea. The good news is: you don't have to - you can buy someone else's idea. This could save a lot of time and give you the opportunity to invest in something that has been tried and tested over years. Remember that all the grunt work has been done for you, you just need to take over.
It's important to find out why the owner is selling the business. Are they coming to retirement and can't handle the pressures of it anymore, or is the business failing and at the end of its cycle? Anyone looking to buy a company needs to do a prudent and thorough review of the business' financial accounts with a professional and review the growth strategy.
In addition, it's a good idea to spend 6 months or a year working in a similar business to find out if you'd like to be working in that type of company! I've heard of many people who'd love to start a restaurant - many more people have told me that they enjoy working in a restaurant.
But I don't have any money
This is a typical business challenge that you'd have to overcome. Most business owners will get a bank loan to start trading so it's a normal step to take, but a full and detailed business analysis should be done before this step.
Alternatively, you could buy a business that was in debt - normally this won't require you to have any money, but the downside is that you inherit the loan from the previous owner. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)!
For anyone who is seriously considering this as a career option, I recommend first reading:
HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business