At a Glance
If you are a business owner, discussing or planning whether to sell your company can be difficult, even when you know it is time to do so. Whether you plan to sell due to market conditions, strategic considerations, or personal reasons, understanding the selling process and forming a plan is crucial.
Following these steps can ensure a smooth transition when selling your small- or medium-sized business.
Step 1: Plan Your Exit
Building your exit plan as soon as possible, or at least one or two years in advance, is recommended. This time frame allows you to conduct sufficient value acceleration and exit planning: a two-step process during which you will optimize your business’s performance and prepare the necessary documentation for the transition. It helps ensure you, the seller, receive a fair value and the buyer gains a sustainable business.
When preparing to sell, you must assemble all contracts, licenses, financial documents, and customer data. Preparing relevant documentation beforehand will ensure that last-minute record-hunting does not delay the selling process. Depending on the size and sector of your business, it can take up to a year or more to complete the transition.
Setting your business up for the succession process can also help you secure a higher price. Buyers are more likely to offer a higher value for your business when you take the proper steps to make the succession as smooth as possible.
Step 2: Have Your Business Valued by Experts
Once you have prepared your succession plan, you need to determine the value of your business. Knowing your company’s value before selling is crucial. It will help you estimate how much you should expect and provide an understanding of the factors determining price and how you may be able to make adjustments to increase its value.
One of the best ways to receive an estimate of value for your business is to contact an experienced accounting firm like Windes. We can examine your business data and financial records in-depth and offer an estimate of value to help you determine your business’s worth.
Step 3: Consider Partnering with a Broker or Investment Banker
When selling a business, the broker acts as an expert intermediary between the seller and the potential buyer. For M&A deals with $20 million of enterprise value or approximately $2 million of recasted EBITDA, an investment banker is typically engaged.
While hiring a broker or investment banker is a common choice for owners and founders looking to facilitate the sale of a business, it has pros and cons to consider.
Below are some of the most common benefits of hiring a broker or investment banker to facilitate your business sale:
- Professionals with in-depth knowledge of current market and industry trends. They can assist you during the business valuation process and help you negotiate a better price with potential buyers.
- Help you market and promote your business, attracting a wider pool of potential buyers and help you secure a higher price.
- Provide crucial support during due diligence, helping you gather all necessary records and documentation to meet the buyers’ demands.
- If a deal has been finalized, they can help you close the sale and ensure the transition progresses as smoothly and quickly as possible.
While brokers and investment bankers provide many benefits, their services may not necessarily suit your specific needs.
- Hired on a fee or commission-based system, which can represent a significant expense, especially for smaller or lower-valued businesses.
- Entrusting the responsibility of managing the sale of your business to someone else. It may not be a good fit if you want to retain direct control over all aspects of the sale.
- If you already have extensive knowledge or familiarity with your industry or sector.
- If your business is relatively small or you expect the sale process to be reasonably quick and straightforward.
Step 4: Find the Right Buyer
While finding the right buyer for your business can be time-consuming, you should avoid accepting the first offer you receive. Instead, ensure you attract at least three buyers and evaluate each of their offerings before deciding.
Besides ensuring you get the right price for your business, having multiple buyers allows you to have backup options if the first deal falls through.
Remember that selling a business is a lengthy process. The right buyer should stay in contact with you and communicate their needs and requirements while you navigate the transition.
Prioritize buyers that are proactive with communication and are willing to clarify their demands when needed. Your buyer should be as committed as you are to the success of the sale process, helping you address challenges as they arise.
Prepare Your Business Sale with Windes
Regardless of size, type, or industry, selling a business is complex and often emotionally challenging. Ensuring the sale process goes as smoothly as possible will help you find the right buyer, receive the best valuation, and complete the transition process quickly and efficiently.
Windes is a business advisory and valuation firm with extensive experience. We can help you make a smooth transition and ensure you sell your business to the right buyer. When you are ready to sell, contact us to discuss your needs.