December 6, 2007

Selling Your Business

Selling your business is a big decision, especially considering that you have most likely spent a large amount of your time, money, and energy building it in the first place. So once you decide to sell your business, then you have to start looking at the process of doing so. How much is your business worth? Who would possibly be interested in buying it? These are all questions you must address when you decide to sell. It seems like it could be a daunting process, and rightfully so, as you are selling what you worked so hard for. However, if you follow a few simple steps, you will cut out as much stress possible.

First, you have to ask yourself "Are you really ready to sell your business?" You will have to evaluate not only your business, but yourself as well. You should look at the reason you are thinking about selling it. Is it legitimate? Once you sell with you wish that you did not? Make sure that you are really ready to sell before you go any further.

After deciding that you are ready and willing to sale your business for the right reasons, you must then ask yourself if your business is ready to be sold. You will need to collect quite a bit of information, including tax statements, inventory sheets, profit and loss statements, information on monetary situations (bank loans, outside investors, etc), and all documents relating to your location and lease. A potential buyer will not only want to see this information, but they will also want to see the most up to date information available. If you are like most business owners, our paperwork may or may not be complete and as up to date as you would like it to be. You will have to take the time to update this information as much as possible.

Next, how much is your business worth? It is important to remember that what you think your business is worth, or what your friends or family thinks your business is worth may not necessarily match what the market says your business is worth. Following the market worth will ensure that you sale your business much faster then if you go by what you feel is correct. Appearance is of importance, so this may also be the time to replace anything within your business that may sway a potential buyer.

Never take a good business, satisfied customers, or good employees for granted. These will be major selling points as well.

Once your business is ready to be sold, you then have to consider who may be a potential buyer. You will have to research what kind of people who be interested and market from there.

So after you start marketing the sale of your business, you will begin to get potentially interested buyers. This is when all the information and paperwork comes in handy. They will review everything you provide, and may even visit your location. This is why it is important to keep your business up to it's highest potential. Some business owners have a tendency to start dropping off from their business once they put it up for sale. Keep your regular business hours, inventory up, etc. Once they decide that they are interested, the majority of buyers will give you're a bid in writing. When you first look at the bid, you may like what you see, but chances are there will be stipulations or situations within it that you do not necessarily agree with. In this case, you will need to discuss and haggle with the potential buyer until you all come to an agreement that will work for both of you. If you cannot come to an agreement that you like, don't sweat it, you will get more offers, it just takes time and patience. On average it takes about 5 to 8 months to sell a small business.

2 comments:

Jess said...

Great article. Yesterday I decided I wanted to sell my business, so this advice is helpful. Where could I post my business for sale? Are there online classified ads where I could do this? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Abby said...

@Jess-- I would check out your local Chamber of Commerce. They should be able to help you. Also check out www.BizTrader.com. It's a global marketplace where you can buy, sell, or invest in a business. It's also really inexpensive to post your business. It's even free right now for a regular listing. The premium also posts your business on other search engines for you. Check it out sometime when you sell your business and good luck!