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What to Consider When Selling a Business

For many entrepreneurs, the process of selling a business begins well before the listing is actually posted. The decision to sell is fraught with dozens of other considerations, from business valuation to finding a broker to honing your negotiation skills. To help ensure a smooth, profitable sale, we’ve compiled some broker-recommended tips for what to consider before putting your business on the market.

Strive for diversity. In the months and years leading up to your business’ sale, do your best to develop an eclectic base of customers. Ideally, your revenue should be derived from a wide variety of sources rather than just a couple of primary ones. Strive for diversity, too, in your product line—a business is more appealing to prospective buyers if it offers a range of products and services.

Be a meticulous record-keeper. Buyers will want to see records of previous bank statements to verify your company’s financial stability. You should also keep all documentation pertaining to employees, performance reviews, human resource mediations, and any previous legal matters.

Don’t accept an offer too readily. Even if it meets or exceeds your goal amount, you should also evaluate the buyer—not just the number. Carefully screen each interested party to ensure that they possess the qualities you desire and to ensure that they have access to the necessary financing before considering their offer.

Strive for confidentiality. When placing your business on the market, consider keeping your business’ name and any other identifying details under wraps to avoid employees, competitors, or clients from learning about the prospective sale.

Don’t rush it. Just as it takes time to start and grow a business, the entire selling process can last for up to a year. To ensure a smooth, profitable sale, take the time to research the market and ascertain your business’ value. That said, once you decide to go with a buyer, don’t let things lag too much. Move the process along to avoid waning enthusiasm and declining morale.

Consider enlisting the services of a third party. A mediator can sit in on meetings with prospective buyers to ensure more productive negotiations and to promote more questions and discussions. During meetings, do your best to keep your emotions out of the room. Address topics in a calm, deliberate, and professional manner.

Consult with professionals. Look for an accountant or attorney that has experience dealing with the complexities of mergers and acquisitions. They can help you to anticipate legal and tax-related issues that may arise with the sale of your business.

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