When selling your business it is critical that you understand the processes involved. After all, unlike other business decisions this will only be made once!
So here are a few questions that might help you in the process.
Why are you selling? Are you selling because the business has reached its full potential or do you want to get out because you have had enough? It's important to have a reason for the sale as you will get asked this question from all potential purchasers.
Is your property leased? If a buyer is looking at your business he will want to see a long term lease in place. Negotiate with your landlord an extension to your lease and make sure that you have a clause in there which allows you to transfer the lease to the new buyer.
When did you last value your assets? This is especially important when it comes to property as prices are constantly changing and you might get a very pleasant surprise.
Do you want to sell just the goodwill and still own the property? Often when selling a business it is possible to keep the property and lease it to the new buyer. If you do not need the full proceeds it is often wise not to sell the property as long term it will be an appreciating asset. Make sure though that you get a full repair and renewal lease put in place with the buyer.
Are you the one hundred percent owner? If not what do the other shareholders think about you leaving? One of the easiest ways to get out is to sell your stake to the other shareholders.
Do you want to protect some workers in your business once the sale has gone through? You might have members of the family or close friends who work in the business and they might need some security after you have left. One way to do this is to provide them with decent employment contracts prior to the sale.
Is the timing right? The best time to sell the business is just after you have had a good year of trading. Even economists disagree about what the future may bring so try not to predict how the trading environment will change but get out when profits are high.
Prime the business for sale. Just as a house will achieve more with a lick of paint and the garden in top condition so a business will need as many loose ends tied up as possible so that it is easier for a new buyer to walk in. Get rid of all the dead stock and dispose of all old and useless machinery.
Tidy the place up. Make it look as attractive as possible and for heavens sake make sure all the light switches and bulbs work. Make sure the place is as bright as possible by using higher power bulbs than normal.
Get professional help. If you have a small business all you need are the services of a good accountant and lawyer. If the business is more complicated a decent business broker might be required to get the maximum price for your business.
The easier you make it for the buyer to move in and start running the business from day one the higher the price you will achieve for the sale.