Should You Sell the Business -- or Not?

Tricky issues need to be considered carefully: For instance, it usually takes two years to prepare a business to be listed for sale.

If you’re thinking about selling your business, try not to make it a hasty decision. Take a step back and consider all of your options. Details like, if you should sell, if you should sell right now and what you need to consider before selling are just a few of the considerations to make before reaching a final decision. So, is it time to sell your business? Here are some of those important questions to ask yourself to help figure out: Is my business ready to sell? Most businesses need at least two years of preparation before being listed on the market. This is to make sure your books are in order, tax returns are organized and the company is presented in its best condition to potential buyers. Trying to do these things in the month before you sell could reduce the selling price of your company or compromise the sale altogether. How much is my business worth? Many business owners wait too long before deciding to sell. Businesses should be sold before their technologies are outdated or they suffer a decrease in sales. It’s important to sell while operations are still strong, to get the best valuation. What are the current market conditions? Before deciding to sell, take a look at the market conditions for your industry. You may want to sell immediately, or you may wait out what you hope is a dip in the market so you can get a higher return a few years down the road. In 2006, for example, a carpentry company would have sold for three to four times as much as it would have after the financial crisis. Sometimes, even if your business is prepared for sale and with a good valuation, market conditions force you to rethink your plans. Can I cope with the changes? As a business owner, you have most likely poured yourself into your job. If you sell, are you personally prepared for the transition from business owner to the next opportunity on your horizon? This decision is primarily personal but is an important factor to consider in whether you should stay or go. Am I willing to stay on if the buyer wants me to? Sometimes, to ease the transition between owners, new buyers ask that the previous owners stay on in a consulting role for a predetermined amount of time, usually six months to a year. Having the prior owner stick around can help avoid any dips in business during the transition. For you, however, is it worth it? You should figure that out ahead of time so you don't fold under pressure conditions when you just want to close the deal. What are your deal breakers? Would you consider alternatives to a cash sale? Who gets the rights of intellectual property created during your time at the company? Will the new owner keep your current employees? These are all questions to consider sooner rather than later so they can be resolved before you’re near a deal. Ultimately, one of the best investments you can make when considering the sale of your business is to build a team of trusted advisers. Accountants, attorneys and insurance agents are just a few of the specialists who can be supremely helpful. These professionals have an understanding of each moving part and, more importantly, of how they all play together. A successful exit or transition strategy takes preparation and a wealth of time. It involves taking inventory of all aspects of your business and personal life to form an integrated strategic plan. After considering all of the questions, it’s time to come to a decision about whether the timing is right to maintain or sell your business. No matter what decision you come to, remember that preparation is the key to taking a successful step into the future.

Deanna Ayres

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Deanna Ayres

Deanna Ayres is the search engine marketing (SEM) strategist and community outreach supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group and Allegiance Capital. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her an uncommon insight into cultural differences in business and marketing.

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