Five things you need to do to prepare your business for sale

By: Matthew Hernon

Date: 5 August 2019

A business owner negotiates the sale of his business with the new owners.

Selling a business can take a considerable amount of time - sometimes as much as a year or more. So, if you’re thinking about exiting your business and cashing in on your venture, it’s wise to start the groundwork early. It’s important to understand the sort of buyer who might be looking to acquire your business and to make it as attractive as possible to potential buyers.

When you’re preparing to sell your business, there are five key areas that you should focus on to ensure that you achieve a timely sale for the right price.

1. Understand your business’ place in the market

From the moment you decide to sell your business, you need to think carefully about what you want to achieve from the sale. For example, you may be happy to wait longer to achieve the highest price possible or your main goal may be to sell quickly to enable you move onto the next stage in your life.

Whatever your expectations, you need to obtain an accurate valuation from a qualified professional that takes into account the amount of money you wish to realise and the time you’re prepared to wait for that all-important offer.

An accountant or business broker will be able to identify your business’ viability and saleability within the local market. They can also make recommendations about improvements you can make which will increase the value and saleability of your business. However, it's important you appoint a valuer who has experience of marketing your type of business. Also, take a little time to research the market so you can see how the value of your business compares to others.

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2. Put the figures in front of the buyer

Any serious buyer will want to feel confident that the business they are purchasing will turnover a healthy profit, so ensure that your bookkeeping is up-to-date, well-organised and neatly presented. As a rule of thumb, buyers will request a minimum of three years of audited accounts, including turnover and profit figures, valuations of assets, details of debts and liabilities and profit forecasts.

Make sure these are clear and easy to understand so that prospective buyers can quickly size up the financial viability of your business and recognise the potential for future growth.

3. Make a great first impression!

Kerb appeal is a well-known selling point when you're marketing a residential property, but it also applies to the sale of a business if premises form part of the deal. A tidy, well-presented office or shop could help tempt a buyer - especially if the competitor's premises don't make the grade. On the other hand, business premises with glaring (and expensive) repairs outstanding could adversely affect the value placed on your business.

Make sure that the outside of your business is well-maintained, attractive and clean. Ensure your business' brand is visible throughout on appropriate signage and stationery, making sure that logos and fonts are consistently used. Repaint inside and out, where necessary, to give the place a cost-effective facelift and ensure that all clutter inside the building is tidied away, so that the business appears to function smoothly. Buyers will be particularly interested if they can see for themselves that the business operates liked a well-oiled machine.

It can also be useful to document all the systems and processes and to include these in your sales material – flow charts are particularly effective in this regard – so that a buyer feels confident that they won’t be purchasing a business that needs urgent reorganisation the minute that they take the helm.

4. Put your legal paperwork in order

Most businesses have a small forest of legal agreements, such as supplier and client contracts, leases, licence agreements and permits. Make sure these are up-to-date and organised clearly so that buyers can inspect them.

All legal agreements should also be reviewed before you place your business for sale to ensure that there are no problems or unresolved issues that your buyer’s solicitor will flag as a concern. Don’t forget to include intellectual property in your review, particularly patents and trademarks: a buyer must be confident they can continue to use these freely, as a legal challenge from a third party can be costly and damaging to the brand.

5. Don’t take your eye off the ball

Above all, remember that, even while your business is for sale, it needs to continue to run smoothly and profitably. Any loss of focus on your part, or that of your staff, could mean a fall in revenue which is likely to be identified by potential buyers devaluing your sale price.

Continue to drive the success of your business in the same way as when you first launched it. Remember that your employees will worry about their futures if assurances aren’t given. The last thing you need is for key employees to get cold feet and depart, leaving you to fill vacancies with inexperienced staff at a time when you need your business to function perfectly.

Copyright 2019. Featured post made possible by Matthew Hernon, Account Manager at BusinessesForSale.com.

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