If you’re considering selling your business, you’re likely looking forward to cashing out and using the money to either fund your next opportunity, or to support a well-deserved retirement. Either way, getting the best price for your business and bringing home the maximum profit is an important piece of the puzzle, and one that has a lot to do with how you prepare for the sale.
The following four tips will help you get the most out of selling your business so you can move on to whatever’s next in style.
Give yourself enough time
The average business sale takes between 12 and 18 months, so it’s wise to plan well in advance of your desired exit date and give yourself at least that much of a cushion between when you list your business for sale and when you hope to close the deal. Otherwise, the negotiating power resides with the buyer and you’ll likely end up having to settle for a lower price just to get the deal done on schedule.
Clean up all business records
You may or may not have always prioritized bookkeeping. But if you’re preparing to sell, you’ll want to focus on putting together a complete and accurate set of legal, financial, and business records that any prospective buyer can easily review to obtain a complete picture of the health of your business. In most cases, this records review is the first serious step a prospective buyer will take in the process, and the accessibility of the records – as much as the story they tell – will make or break a deal down the road.
Clean up the physical location itself
Assuming your business includes a physical location of any kind, be sure that building and property are clean and well-maintained. If your records are neat and clear, and they verify that your company is in good financial shape, the next step for most prospective buyers is a visit and inspection. Much like a homebuyer, the “curbside appeal” of where you do business has a big impact on whether they’ll move forward with the deal, and how much they think the company is worth.
Prepare for your departure
One of the key reasons a prospective buyer ends up passing on a business sale is that they just can’t end up seeing themselves succeeding in the role of owner of the business in question. Often, this is because they realize that the current owner – you – is integral to the company’s past and present success. To resolve this issue, start early in creating systems and setting up personnel so that you, as the owner, are no longer an integral piece of the puzzle. While you’ll want and need to remain fully involved in the business through the day the deal closes, you want your prospective buyer to be able to easily see himself sliding into that ownership role without rocking the boat at all.
By following these four tips, you’ll be in an excellent position to sell your business for maximum profit and move on to whatever’s next in your personal American Dream.
Bruce Hakutizwi is the U.S. and international manager of BusinessesForSale.com, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium-sized businesses. With more than 60,000 business listings, it attracts 1.4 million buyers every month. Follow him on Twitter @BizForSaleUS.