Many small business owners attempt to sell their companies on their own. If you decide to sell your business you must consider both financial, non-financial, personal and business goals. Many business owners have put a lot of thought into how much they want to receive from the sale, but haven’t considered other, equally important issues. In addition, while you may know more about your business than anyone else, taking on the task of finding a buyer while simultaneously running it could be a tall order. To maintain “business as usual” and prevent the general public from learning about the sale, it may be in your best interest to hire an intermediary.
Understanding the Buyer’s Motives
Selling a business can be a very personal thing. While an experienced business broker can decide if a buyer is a good fit for your business, it is ultimately up to you and with whom you are comfortable signing over your company. Seek to understand the buyer’s motives and what they find most attractive about the business. The more value drivers there are – customer base, product, service, facilities, etc. – the better position you will be in to negotiate a higher selling price.
In some cases, the buyer may ask that you stay with the business for a period of time after the sale. Sellers are generally expected to train buyers in running the business after closing. The length of time will be negotiated and agreed upon in the Purchase Agreement. While this is standard, if your buyer is an investor, they may ask that you stay on and run the business, while you maintain a stake in it, for an agreed upon period of time. If this is the case, you may have the possibility of selling the bulk of the business right away, and then selling off your remaining equity down the road.
Finding the Right Fit
As an entrepreneur who has undoubtedly invested countless hours and emotional energy into the business you own, you will want to see it succeed and carry on your company culture after it changes hands. While you may initially be attracted to selling to the highest bidder, also consider the compatibility between the prospective buyer and the business. You will want to find someone who shares your business values and will continue your legacy after the sale.
An acquiring buyer may want to be heavily involved in daily operations, while another may want to remain hands-off. In either case, they may choose to keep the current staff in place, to keep things running smoothly and ease their transition, or they may decide to bring in their own team. As a business owner, you should take the time to evaluate your employees’ job security. In the sales process you may negotiate employment contracts with the buyer to help prevent layoffs.
Seek Professional Assistance
The best way to prevent distractions during a business sale and focus on day to day operations is to hire an intermediary, such as a business broker. The purpose of hiring someone to handle the mergers & acquisitions process is to have an experienced professional find an appropriate buyer with your interests in hand. A broker qualifies buyers by having them complete a buyer profile, which helps them figure out what type and size business the buyer is looking for, as well as what they can afford. Business brokers use this information to filter through a list of interested parties, narrowing it down to a select few compatible prospects. This process helps to save you, the business owner, a lot of time, but it also helps keep the sale of your business private. Part of a business broker’s process is to maintain a degree of confidentiality and make sure that sensitive information, or the news of your company’s sale is not disclosed to competitors, or the widespread public. After presenting a few select buyers for your business, a business broker will be able to present the pros and cons of each prospect.
Finding the right buyer for your business is no small task. While all of the aforementioned factors are important, there are many other intricacies to the process, and every transaction is different. Allowing a business broker to handle the responsibilities can ensure that your business is being marketed properly and that all buyers are well screened.
If you’re considering the sale of a business you own, and would like to find out more about the how to find a qualified buyer, contact Corporate Investment Business Brokers and start the process with a free business valuation.