Selling a Business
You have most likely come to a decision to sell your business, or are seriously contemplating selling,
based on a particular set of circumstances:
- it might be time to retire
- things are tough and you think it is the right time to limit your risks
- you have achieved your business objectives and built up some value and you would like to benefit financially from this or;
- you might just want to spend more time with your family or change direction.
Whatever the reason to sell, if you are hoping to identify a potential purchaser that will recognise value in your business there are a few critical things you should think about during the pre-sale and transaction process.
We've broken down the process of selling a business into:
- Seller's checklist
- Professional assistance
- Up-to-date financial information
- Being honest and forthcoming
1. Seller's checklist
- Know what $ range the market will value your business, what the likely interest will be and the probability of a successful sale.
- Have your current and most recent financial year accounts up to date, reviewed and compiled by your accountant.
- Be confident that you have done everything to ensure the financial, business, statutory and operational aspects of your business are well documented so they can be communicated professionally to a prospective purchaser.
- Communicate your intentions with your staff transparently at the appropriate time; and
- Consider what advice and assistance you might need to market your business professionally. As selling a business takes time and usually needs 100 per cent focus to achieve a good result.
2. Do you need professional assistance to sell your business?
It is worth considering whether you are the best person to sell the business and represent the information on the business, or should you appoint an advisor/broker to assist you?
Questions to consider:
- Have you got the time and know-how to actively market the business and also keep running the day to day operations?
- How do you tap into the target market of prospective buyers without wasting time and money?
- How is a purchaser going to feel dealing directly with you as the owner? - are they going to tell you exactly what they think about the business or could this situation be slightly confronting to you and the prospective purchaser?
Often there are advantages in having a "representative" acting on your behalf, especially when it comes time to follow up and motivate the purchaser to make an offer to purchase and negotiate the deal.
Above all, preparation and planning for a business sale is the most important factor in lifting the probability of success!
3. Have your financial information up to date
Remember what it was like when you purchased the business? If you built it from scratch, remember what it was like dealing with a financier for the first time to get a loan? You or your bank wanted clear and credible information about the business, like how it operates, what exactly were you buying, and how was it performing.
If you’re thinking about selling your business in the next 6 months, don't delay in getting your books and records to your accountant to finalise the financial year accounts. A sensible purchaser is not going to have much interest reviewing the previous financial years results, they will want the latest.
4. Be honest and forthcoming with information
Make sure you share the truth about the good and (sometimes) not so good aspects of your business. Every business, no matter how big or small, successful or otherwise, has positive points along with challenges and weaknesses. Hiding things that you might be embarrassed or disappointed about is unlikely to help you sell the business. The business buying public is overwhelmingly intelligent - they know the right questions to ask and usually have an advisor who is professionally trained to conduct a thorough due diligence - there is a strong chance misrepresentation of the facts will be found out.
If you are serious in wanting to sell, know your bottom line and share this with your advisor/broker. Consider your advisors market appraisal and be realistic because otherwise you’re potentially wasting time and money.