There are many reasons business owners choose to sell their businesses. It could be because they want to move to another state or city, they want to retire, sales are down and they don’t have the energy to continue, or they are just looking for a new challenge.
No matter what reasons you have to sell your business, there are certain things you need to do to maximize your business’ value and have a smooth selling process. Here are the basics on how you should prepare to sell your business.
1. Prepare For The Sale In Advance
Poor preparation can lead to a waste of time and effort. You should start with your exit planning 18-24 months ahead of when you’d like the sale to close. Preparing for the sale earlier can improve your financial records and improve the business structure. Such improvements will make the transition easy for the buyer and potentially increase your valuation. Here are a few things you should do as you prepare your business for sale:
- Increase Profitability – Investors want to buy a profitable business – identifying unnecessary costs and improving efficiency will make the business more valuable and attractive to buyers.
- Update Processes – You’ll put buyers at ease when you create and document processes that will enable the business to function without you being involved. Think of the places you’re involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and document how it could run if someone were to step into your role.
- Keep Your Team Happy – No investor will want to deal with businesses with high employee turnover and uncertainty. Keeping your team engaged and focused on the goal during the acquisition process is critical to a successful transaction.
2. Identify Tangible And Intangible Assets
As the date of the sale draws near, you should list all the physical assets, which include inventory, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings. It’s also crucial to consider intangible assets like customer relationships, contracts, and brand recognition. During the due diligence process, your buyer (or their attorney) will likely request all of these items so it’s useful to have the information collected beforehand.
3. Put Yourself In The Buyer’s Shoes
What is your buyer looking for? A business they can step into as an owner-operator? Are they a competitor looking to add to their book of business and merge your team into their business? Are they someone providing a product in an adjacent market and looking to add capabilities to their offering?
Putting yourself in your buyer’s shoes and marketing your business to them based on what they want can help you negotiate a better deal.
4. Create A Timeline
2-3 years is a reasonable time to prepare for your business sale. That’s enough time to build profitability for the business and ensure you are ready for the transition. You’ll get a maximum return when you show your business has increased profitability over the past few years.
5. Get A Business Valuation
The next thing you should do is determine the value of your business. A business valuation helps you determine the right price for your business. Make sure you use a business appraiser to get the valuation. Having a professional valuation will help you gauge your buyer’s offers.
Through a business valuation, you can know about your financial situation, market position, and your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. You can get the valuation from regional business brokers, local accounting firms, or investment banking firms.
6. Use A Broker
Depending on your situation, using a business broker can maximize the value you get for the sale, even after their fees. Ask around your professional network for recommendations and vet them thoroughly. Have they sold other businesses like yours? Check references and make sure the broker is providing consistent results.
7. Prepare Documents
You should also have your financial statements ready before you sell your business – bank statements, credit card statements, financial statements, and don’t forget the tax returns! Make sure you review any permits, incorporation papers, leases, licensing agreements, and vendor contracts as well.
8. Keep Employees Incentivized
Key managers can create a conflict of interest during the sale. Make sure to keep your key team members happy and engaged throughout the process to avoid any uncertainty during the sale. You may think you can rely on non-compete or non-solicit agreements, but it’s much easier to keep your team happy.
9. Find A Buyer
A business sale can take between six months and two years. It can be a challenge to find the right buyer. Buyers always look for business with good cash flow. They want to invest in a business that can increase their return on investment. If you build your company to provide the buyer with what they need, you will usually not have a problem finding a buyer. Often, a buyer will even come from the network you’ve built over the years of operating your business.
Raleigh Business Acquisition Attorneys
It’s important to have the right team on your side during an acquisition. The team at Wilson Ratledge has worked with many business owners to sell their businesses over the years, and helped them get to the next phase in their journey. We can help you too – call us today at 919-787-7711 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation today!