How to sell a business? Where do you even start?
Have you ever thought about this with your own company?
If so, you're not alone.
Every year, thousands of business owners decide to sell their businesses for a variety of reasons. However, selling a business is not a simple process. There are a number of important steps that must be taken in order to ensure a successful sale. In this blog post, we'll walk you through the key steps for how to sell a business. We'll also provide some helpful tips and resources along the way.
How to Sell a Business: First Understand Your Goals
The first step in selling your business is to understand your goals for the sale. Are you looking to retire? Do you want to move on to a new venture? Or do you need more investment to take the business to the next level? Is it important for your business to remain in a certain location, or your staff to retain their jobs?
Your answers to these types of questions will determine the best way to sell your business.
If you're looking for an injection of cash to grow, then selling a minority stake in the business could be an option, this is known as a partial divestment. But if there is an urgency to sell, possibly due to health reasons, you’ll probably want to sell the business outright.
It’s worth taking some time to really understand your goals as this will shape the entire sales process.
A great resource for how to sell a business is this article Deciding Why, When and How To Sell Your Business – Before You Speak to a Business Broker which also includes a downloadable checklist to help you get clear on your motivations and goals for selling your business.
Get a Business Valuation Appraisal
The next step for how to sell a business is to get a business valuation appraisal. This will give you an idea of how much your business is worth and help you set a realistic asking price.
With a professional assessment, you will learn the fair market value of your company, and what a hypothetical buyer would expect to pay if they were to take it to market. This is based on an array of factors including financial and non-financial elements of your business.
There are a number of different methods that can be used to value a business, so it's important to speak with a professional business valuation appraiser to get an accurate estimate.
Get the Business Sale Ready
Once you understand the value of your business and you decide to move forward, it’s time to get your business sale-ready. This involves preparing all the necessary documentation, such as financial statements, contracts, and licenses. You'll also want to put together a sales deck or information memorandum that outlines the key features and benefits of your business. This will be used to market your business to potential buyers.
Find a good broker or M&A advisor who specialises in selling businesses like yours. They will help you navigate the preparation and sale process and ensure that you get the best possible price for your business.
The ideal advisor will take the time to understand your business and your industry. They will have a proven process and be able to take you through the steps ensuring you understand the journey. They will lead you through the stages with confidence, be available to answer your questions, and keep you informed.
There is no doubt you will have sensitivities and concerns. Again, a good advisor can answer all the tricky questions, such as, how do you prevent competitors accessing your trade secrets? How do you manage confidentiality? When do you talk to your staff?
Your advisor will work with you to pull together the ‘Data Room’ which involves collating all the relevant business and financial documentation required for the sale. Prior to this, a good advisor would have also done a type of 'internal due diligence' as you’ve moved along the process. When this is done well, you'll go to market confident and prepared with no 'hidden surprises' to derail the sale.
The next step is to start researching potential buyers. This includes understanding their acquisition criteria and whether your business is a good match. Your broker or M&A advisor will have a database of potential acquirers and can help you identify the best fit for your business. They will also be able to approach buyers on your behalf and manage the sale process from start to finish.
It’s important to cast a wide net when conducting buyer research so that you can identify all potential suitors for your business.
There are many different types of buyers with different motivations, you'll hear about strategic buyers, financial buyers, family offices, private equity firms. The right advisor can discuss your goals and help you understand the best buyer fit.
Marketing Strategy for Selling Your Business
Now that you have prepared yourself and your business for sale and identified potential buyers, it's time to put together a marketing strategy to attract interest from these individuals and entities.
There are a number of ways to market your business for sale, including advertising on business sale platforms and conducting targeted outreach campaigns. The goal is to generate interest from potential buyers so that you can begin the process of screening and negotiation. Again, an experienced advisor will devise the marketing strategy that best suits your business and goals.
Once you have generated interest from potential buyers, it’s time to start screening them. This can be time consuming and may include evaluating their financial capability to complete a deal as well as their strategic fit with your company.
Your initial goals around selling your business will come into play when considering the right buyers, for example, if you would like to sell the business but remain involved in some way, that may impact the type of buyers you will consider.
Offers and Negotiation
After you have screened potential buyers and identified those who are most qualified, it’s time to begin the process of offers and negotiation. This can be a complex process and may involve navigating various offers and counteroffers that will be made.
This article on ‘How to Negotiate a Business Sale’ may also be of value to you.
Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer will conduct due diligence on your business. This is a thorough review of all aspects of the company, including its financials, operations, and compliance with regulations. The goal of due diligence is to ensure that the buyer understands what they are getting into before completing the purchase of your business. To get the best outcome, you should enter this stage prepared, here’s how to stay a step ahead of your buyer.
Settlement and Sale
After completing the due diligence stage successfully, you are now on the home run but there is still an agreement to be drawn up, conditions to be negotiated, and settlement to be confirmed. Continuous revisions to the contract are not only frustrating for everyone but can be very costly with legal fees. A good advisor will work with your solicitor to make sure that this part of the process runs efficiently, and if you don’t have a solicitor that is familiar with business sales, your advisor should be able to introduce you to one that has the experience and skills to get the best outcome for you.
So there you have it — the key steps for how to sell a business!
It's important to note that not all businesses are suitable for sale, so we recommend you speak with a professional before moving forward. Selling a business is a big decision and there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the plunge. However, with the right preparation and guidance, it can be a smooth and successful process. If you need any assistance along the way, don't hesitate to reach out to us for help. We specialise in helping businesses like yours sell successfully.
At Exit Advisory Group we help business owners maximise the value of their company and exit at the top of their game.
Here’s how we can help you:
- Discover what your business is worth: By understanding where you are today you can create an effective plan for business growth.
- Understand your exit options: There are many ways to exit a business. We'll help you choose the option that matches your business, lifestyle and personal goals.
- Increase the value of your company: Whether you want to exit in a specific time-frame or reach a desired valuation. We'll give you a game plan to maximise company value and achieve your goals.
- Sell your business: If your desired exit option is to sell, we are a licensed business broker and we can handle the entire process from creating the strategy and finding buyers all the way to settlement and transition. Find out how we do things differently to most other business brokers to get the best results.