Whether it’s because you’re ready to retire, to cash in on a seller’s market, or simply because you’ve grown weary of working in your particular industry, you’ve finally made the decision to sell your business.
To help ensure that the process goes smoothly, keep these five important steps in mind:
- Decide if the time is right. How is your local economy? Are things going well in your business community, particularly in your field? Are other businesses for sale in your area? If so, why? Depending on your answers to these questions, you may have to tough it out a little longer in order to win a fair price for your business.
- Put yourself in the buyer’s seat. This might be difficult to do — especially if you’ve owned the business for a long time — but it will help. How attractive is your company? Does it look like a winner? What changes or improvements should you consider making before putting your business on the market? The time to make any potential changes is now, not after your business has been on the market for six months without generating any buyer interest.
- Put your financial records in order. If you’ve been a little sloppy in the record keeping department, put your financial records in order and make sure they’re up-to-date before selling. Waiting to organize your finances until after you have an interested buyer could jeopardize a potential sale.
- Get an expert’s opinion. Ask someone with experience selling businesses in your industry for an outside opinion; this extra step could help you reap big dividends. Such a professional can help you make a proper valuation of your business, give you added insight into what buyers are most interested in, and provide a host of other benefits. And don’t just settle for any business broker; find someone who has sold plenty of businesses similiar to yours. Check with your local chamber of commerce for referrals.
- Spread the word. Tell your existing customers and vendors that you are planning to sell; don’t let them learn about it from an outside source. Customer and vendor loyalty counts for a lot these days, and word of mouth can be one of the best advertisements for finding an interested buyer.
Selling your business is an important decision that should not be made hastily. It may be stressful to let go, especially if you’ve owned your business for a number of years. But following the steps outlined above should help to make the process less daunting.
For additional advice on how to find a qualified buyer, read Finding a Qualified Buyer for Your Business. And should you feel that you have to — not want to — sell, check out Alternatives to Selling Your Business for some helpful pointers.