There are some very important things to consider when selling a business to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that an owner receives maximum value at the time of sale:

1. Clearly define your goals, objectives and time frames for selling your business.  It is critical you understand what your priorities are as it will influence any subsequent plans.

2. Consider what you will do after selling your business.  Do you want to stay with the business, make an immediate departure, or do you desire somewhere in-between?  Is retirement really for you?  Many ex-business owners feel stranded post sale.

3. Have up-to-date information.  Robust financial information should be available for the previous three to five years, as well as your year-to-date management accounts.  A detailed business plan and
quality budgets or forecasts will assist you and your advisers in gaining an accurate view of your business prospects and range of values.

4. How do I kick-start the process?  Start by engaging a qualified business broker to help guide you through this complex process – a small investment in advice at the outset makes for a much smoother
process. A business broker will work alongside your existing advisers (lawyers, accountants etc) and will provide the advisory and transactional services required to achieve an optimal outcome.

5. Develop a tailored transition plan.  A specialist adviser can help match your objectives with a tailored transition plan to get the job done and help you achieve your goals.

6. Who is going to buy my business?  You may have some ideas already and your business broker should have a network of qualified buyers – national and/or international – actively seeking quality business

7. How do I get the best price for my business?  It is essential you have realistic expectations of the value of your business – your business broker should have access to data on current relevant transactions and an understanding of the factors that will drive value. With your broker, you can work out what practical actions you can take to maximize value – e.g. mitigating business risks (IP protected, systems documented, managing key person risk, key supplier and customer contracts etc) and how to communicate value to prospective purchasers. Use of different deal structures can bridge value gaps.

8. How will I protect confidentiality?  Remember confidentiality can never be guaranteed, but your best protection is to use a broker who believes wholeheartedly in protecting a client’s confidentiality and has systematic processes in place to protect it.  Be sure to ask him/her about their process.  At a minimum, your broker should always use a comprehensive confidentiality agreement for all prospective buyers.

9. Prepare yourself for a process that can take 6 months or more.  The sale process can often be stressful and time consuming. Your broker should support and guide you through the process to ensure that you are not distracted from running the business in the meantime.

10. Who will help you with your financial affairs, both during and after selling your business?  This may be your existing advisers – you will need to consider what the most tax-efficient structure is to maximize sale proceeds and how you will subsequently invest them.