The Right Decisions When Selling Your Business


Selling your business is a major decision for any entrepreneur. When deciding to sell, focus on key factors like timing, finding the right buyer, getting expert advisors, and planning your next chapter. With the right approach, you can achieve a successful sale and exit on favorable terms.

Prepare Financially

Get your finances in order before putting the business on the market. Review your books with your accountant to understand the current valuation. Look for ways to increase profitability and improve the balance sheet. Pay off any debts and get projections for future earnings. Having accurate financials will make the business more attractive to buyers. If help is needed in this area, turn to

Consider the Timing

The state of the economy and your industry are critical when deciding on timing. Try to avoid selling during a downturn when valuations are lower. Research the sector and comparable businesses sold recently to understand the current market. While you may be ready to sell, external factors can impact your options. Sell when conditions are optimal for getting the best price.

Shiny Objects Syndrome

Entrepreneurs with shiny objects syndrome are easily distracted by new ideas and projects, abandoning their core business. This can be detrimental when trying to sell a company, as buyers want a focused, profitable business with growth potential. To sell successfully, entrepreneurs need to demonstrate a solid track record, realistic projections, and a clear strategic vision. Resist chasing new fads and stay laser-focused on executing your business strategy. This discipline and commitment will make the company an attractive acquisition target that can command a premium sale price.


Continuing Your Legacy

When selling a business you’ve built from the ground up, it’s understandable to want your legacy and values to live on through new ownership. Vet potential buyers thoroughly. Get to know their mission, values, and plans for the company’s future. Look for shared philosophies and commitment to your employees and community.

Transparency about expectations upfront is key. With thoughtful preparation, you can find the right buyer to shepherd the company into its next chapter, maintaining the heart of what made it special. Though no longer at the helm, your imprint on the business you founded can thrive for years to come under caring new stewardship.

Get Expert Advice

Work with experienced M&A advisors, lawyers, and accountants to guide you through the process. They can help you determine your objectives, prepare the business for sale, estimate valuation, identify potential buyers, negotiate favorable terms, and navigate legal/tax complexities. Their expertise can prove invaluable in getting the best deal.

The Buyer’s Perspective

Consider the buyer’s perspective when selling a business. Be prepared to provide financial records proving consistent revenue and profits. Highlight strengths like a loyal customer base, location, and skilled staff that add value. Anticipate and ease concerns about maintaining quality and transitioning operations.

Emphasizing goodwill with the community and opportunities for growth shows this business is a promising investment for the buyer, not just a cash source for the seller. Adopting the buyer’s perspective builds trust and makes the sale more appealing.


Define Your Role

Decide if you want to continue being involved in the business post-sale, whether as a minority stakeholder, consultant, or manager. This will impact deal structure and negotiations. Certain buyers may want you to remain for an interim period to transition smoothly. Define what role, if any, you want at the outset to avoid problems down the line.

The Vacation Test

The vacation test is an important consideration when selling a business. If you were unable to work for a month due to vacation or illness, would the business continue to operate and generate revenue without your direct involvement? If the answer is no, then the business lacks the processes and management to succeed without the owner’s constant oversight.

This makes the business less attractive to potential buyers, as it indicates the owner’s role is irreplaceable. Sellers should aim to systematize operations and build a capable team before putting a business on the market. This provides confidence that the company can run smoothly without the former owner at the helm.

Privacy Concerns

When selling a business, it’s crucial to protect customer and employee privacy. You’ll need to anonymize or delete personal data like names, contact info, purchase history, and performance reviews before sharing with potential buyers. Ensure data security so customer records aren’t breached.

Inform employees that the business is for sale and ask for consent before sharing employment info. Transparency builds trust. Assure customers their info won’t be sold. With care and diligence during the sale, you can protect privacy while finding the right buyer.

Consider Alternatives

Outright sale is not the only option. You may be able to get liquidity while still retaining some control through a minority stake sale or recapitalization. This allows you to get some cash out while positioning the business for continued growth. Explore deal structures that could provide favorable tax treatment as well. There are many options beyond just selling 100% of your shares.

Think About Employees

Your employees are invaluable assets of the business. Before finalizing any sale, think about their futures. Will the buyer retain staff? Is your management team enthusiastic about the buyer’s vision? Any big changes risk losing key people. Make sure to consider your employee’s perspectives in the process.

Plan Your Next Chapter

Selling your business means starting a new chapter in your career and life. You may want to pursue new ventures, retire, or just travel. Think about your goals post-sale and how the timing aligns with your personal desires. Having a plan for what comes next will help ensure a smooth transition after letting go of the business.

Selling your business is a complex process with many steps, but getting optimal value depends on making the right decisions. Focus on preparation, timing, finding the ideal buyer, getting expert help, defining your future role, assessing alternatives, considering employees, and planning your next move. With the right approach, you can achieve a successful sale and exit the business on the right terms.