If you’re planning to sell a business in Southwest Florida, you need to take time to evaluate it and develop a plan of action. While developing this plan, review the key components of your business and look for ways to add value to it. Even if you plan on selling it as-is, you will need to consider how to make your company attractive to buyers, so it stands out from other similar businesses and doesn’t sit on the market too long.

Identify Areas for Improvement

When evaluating a purchase, buyers are generally attracted to businesses with low risk and good cash flow. They look at the business image, products, customers, organization and transferability. Try to see things from the buyer’s perspective. You probably already know of a few areas where you can improve. List these items and rank them in order of highest to lowest priority.

Looks for Ways to Add Value to the Business

Focus on adding value to your company as you look for areas of improvement and prepare it for sale. It helps to know what your business is worth to begin with, so get a professional valuation estimate from someone who appraises businesses, such as a business broker. This valuation could expose issues that need improvement, or areas where you can enhance its value. Many business owners find ways to improve the financial aspects of their business. You can also add value by developing a procedure manual for running your company, or developing a succession plan so there is a roadmap to follow once you are no longer involved.

Develop Your Improvement Plan

Review your list of potential improvements and determine what changes you feel are necessary to sell the business by going through a few checks. Will any of the items on your list affect the buyer’s interest, asking price or the success of the business? Are any of them ‘red flags’ that make your business seem more risky? You will also need to consider the return on investment of any improvements. If it isn’t going to slow the sale or raise the asking price by more than what it costs, it probably isn’t worth doing. Establish a timeline for getting these improvements done and listing the business for sale. This will also help you figure out which changes you have time to make, and which ones you do not.

Keep the Sale Plans Confidential

Confidentiality is critical to the successful sale of your business. It protects the privacy of your business, as well as its present and future success. If the knowledge of your sale becomes public, it could trigger a negative reaction from employees, customers, vendors and creditors. If competitors find out they could try to purge your business, or fake interest in it to gain knowledge that would give them a competitive advantage. Only share your sale plans with key staff members, and only when having them sign a non-disclosure of confidentiality agreement. You will also need any other parties interested in your business or assisting with the sale to sign these documents. Confidentiality is very difficult to maintain once you list your business for sale. It’s a big reason why many sellers hire a business broker to help sell their businesses. Brokers are experts in confidentiality and blind marketing, and know exactly what information to release to interested buyers and when to release it. They act as a buffer between you and the seller, protecting your privacy and your interests.

The process of selling a business can take several months, or even a couple of years to complete. Following the guidelines of this list will not only help you make your business more attractive to potential buyers, it will help you to run a more successful business while you wait for the right buyer to come along. If you are thinking about selling a business you own, consider using a business broker. They can assist you in preparing the sale and have the valuable experience necessary for negotiations and confidential marketing. Their assistance allows you to focus on running your business without also having to simultaneously entertain buyers. Contact Corporate Investment Business Brokers (CIBB) to get a free business valuation and consultation to start the process.