Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ground Rules for Successfully Selling Your Business

Sooner or later you are going to exit your business. The question isn't whether or not you will be ready. The sixty four thousand dollar question is whether or not your business will be ready.

It is estimated that seven out of ten privately held businesses have no succession plan to transfer the business to the next generation of owners. What does that mean to you? It means that if you do not currently have a plan in place to transfer your business to family members, existing partners, management or employees, someday you will think about selling your business.

That day might come sooner than you anticipate. Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you are not currently ready to retire that you have plenty of time to prepare your business for sale.

As a business broker, I have been involved in a number of transactions (and potential transactions) where the business owner wanted to sell, or in some instances, was forced to exit the business earlier than expected. In fact, retirement is NOT the number one reason why businesses sell.

Here is a list of the most common reasons why owners sell (or otherwise discontinue) their businesses:

Burn-out (the number one reason for selling)

Health issues

Personal diversification



Divorce/partner disputes

Business growing too fast

Second generation not up to the task

Loss of market share


The sad truth is that many business owners do not take good care of their most valuable asset: the business. They don't groom someone to continue the business in their absence, and do not keep the business in salable shape during the time they operate the business.

Business owners tend to get too bogged down in the day to day business operations to worry about--or plan for an event that they perceive won't occur until sometime in the distant future; selling the business.

Unfortunately, fate sometimes dictates circumstances beyond your control, and tough decisions must be made. If your business isn't ready to sell when the time comes, what are your alternatives?

1. Liquidation of business assets--may be a solution, but one that usually returns very little money to the business owner. If the business had been an operating business, the underlying assets (except for real estate) may be outdated and of little use to anyone. At auction, the assets will bring only what the attending bidders are willing to pay. In some instances, underlying assets are sold to liquidators (or scrap) for only pennies on the dollar. Liquidation of a going business often occurs where the owners have become ill or disabled, or need to retire and have not planned adequately for their exit from the business.

2. Closing the business--is even less attractive than liquidation. That is because many who find themselves in this situation have a tendency to "put off" liquidating the underlying assets in hope that maybe someone will come along to buy this business. This almost never happens.


Okay, so you think you have enough to do without throwing more onto the pile. Am I right? That is why I have written this article for you. It provides a "down and dirty" overview of things that you ought to begin thinking about and planning for right now. Doing so will provide you with an additional safety net that will help safeguard your valuable business asset.