Since business owners are the type who know about selling -- either products or services-- and about making deals -- it’s not surprising that owners approach selling their businesses with these tried-and-true tactics and ideas. Sellers who have spent years building a business are often unaware of how completely different the process of selling a business is.
Savvy sellers, realizing the importance of a selling approach equal to this very important task, will depend on the guidance of a business intermediary. With professional guidance, sellers can benefit from their personal strengths instead of letting them get in the way of the selling process. The following “strong” selling points are signposts on the road leading to a successful transaction.
Sellers are good “business people;” they naturally are after the best possible price for their business. Realistic pricing is perhaps the most important factor in selling from a point of strength. Understanding the current marketplace, and not some high mark just past or in the possible future, is key.
In addition to the obvious need for the business to appear clean and cared-for, there are important steps the seller must take in advance of putting the business on the market. In most cases, a business will sell based on the numbers. Your business broker, working with your CPA, will help you create a clear financial picture -- in a timely fashion -- and to prepare statements suitable for presentation to a prospective buyer. Remember that buyers may be willing to buy potential, but they don’t want to pay for it.
Business owners are accustomed to coping with paperwork, but few have had exposure to the specialized contracts and forms required both before and during the selling process. The business broker, an expert at transaction details, will help guard against delays, problems, and premature (or inappropriate) disclosure of information.
Another vital activity for the seller is to keep on top of the day-to-day running of the business. When a business intermediary is on hand to focus on the marketing of the business, the seller can focus on keeping daily operations on-target.
An adjunct to maintaining the status quo is the important task of maintaining confidentiality. Until a purchase-and-sale agreement has been signed, most sellers do not want to disturb (or jeopardize) the normal interaction with customers and employees; nor do they want to alert the competition. A business broker helps by using nonspecific descriptions of the business, requiring signed confidentiality agreements, and performing a careful screening of all prospects.
To keep the sale of your business on firm ground, be sure that your “strengths” as an independent business owner aren’t actually weakening the sale. Using these key selling points along with the expertise of a business intermediary will keep the process going strong.