Thinking Of Selling Your Business? Start Here.
What to Expect When You’re Ready To Sell
There are several reasons small business owners decide to sell their companies — they want to move to another city or state, sales are down, they’re looking for a new challenge or it’s time to retire.
The prospect of selling your business can feel overwhelming, and you want to receive a fair price for the assets you’ve worked so hard to create. To make the process as easy and profitable as possible, you’ll want to start planning early. Whatever the reason, once you decide to sell, you can’t just hang up a “for sale” sign and wait for the offers to come rolling in. Selling for the right price takes time and preparation.
What’s Your Goal in Selling?
Owners often focus primarily on the question “How much can I get for my business?” However, the first question an owner needs to be prepared to answer is, “What results do I want to get from this transaction?” Business owners will typically focus on what they think their business is worth or how much a peer recently sold their business for, even if that business was in a different industry.
PGP Advisory suggests focusing on the owner’s personal needs and goals. For example, consider these questions:
- Do you want to transition the company to the next generation of your family or to employees?
- Is your goal to find a willing buyer in the open market and maximize the sale price?
- Do you plan to retire and live off of the proceeds from the sale for the rest of your life?
- Are you looking to invest some of your equity with the buyer and work with/for the next owner?
- Are you looking to reinvest in a different opportunity?
- What other goals do you have (e.g., paying for college educations, contributing planned amounts to charity)?
Understanding the Realistic Timeline is Essential
In an ideal situation, the questions above would be asked and answered several years before the owner wants to take their business to market. This timeframe would allow for appropriate estate and investment planning. Plus, having a longer timeframe allows owners and their advisors to consider what actions can be taken to increase the value of the company before going to market and leaves ample time for implementation.
Having time on your side can really pay off when selling a business. Whether you’re ready to retire or simply want to move on to a new venture, it’s imperative to keep in mind, that the completion of a sale can take well over a year, so keep that in mind as you plan your exit strategy.
At PGP Advisory, we explain to our clients that it’s reasonable to prepare for this to be a 2-year process, roughly from the time you decide to sell, all the way to the completion of the sale. Wrapping your head around this realistic time frame is a necessary first step. This critical preparation will help you to improve your financial records, business structure, and customer base to make the business more profitable. These improvements will also ease the transition for the buyer and keep the business running smoothly.
Selling a business requires an enormous amount of planning. As you begin the process, it’s important to focus on the step you’re in and the long-term objective. Otherwise, you may end up making short-term decisions that go against your ultimate plan.
Knowing what you want/need as a result of the sale and understanding the realistic selling timeframe, will set you up as much as possible for a smooth and successful transaction.
In our next segment, PGP Advisory will walk you through the first steps owners will want to take to begin the selling process from an advisor perspective, including helping you construct your transition team.