What to expect when selling your business

In most business transactions it is ideal to know what to expect before beginning. So what should a business owner expect when selling their business? At a macro view there are three, high-level steps:

Preparation

This includes organizing required documentation, reviewing financial statements and business tax returns, insight into the operating model and any unique business characteristics (product, sales channels, marketing, customer base, supply chain, etc.). As your business broker we prepare three deliverables in this step:

  • Value assessment based off an in-depth analysis of your financials and private market comparables
  • Blind business profile. This is a 1 or 2 pager that masks the identity of you and the business; it is used to draw interest from prospective buyers. Our team vets each prospective buyer after they have completed and signed a non-disclosure agreement
  • Confidential Business Review (CBR). Also referred to as a “marketing package”, this document reveals the identity of the business and goes into detail on the financials, SWOT analysis, and operating model. For context, these can range from 10 – 60 pages in length depending on the size and complexity of the business

Marketing

This kicks off when your business is ready for market. We execute a targeted, confidential plan to engage qualified, strategic buyers. This includes:

  • Showcasing your business on a number of different business for sale and industry specific platforms
  • Pinging active buyers (owner operators, private equity shops, and investment offices)
  • Proactive outreach to targeted buyers
  • Tapping our network of seasoned brokers, CPAs, SBA lenders, and other deal professionals

Negotiation, due diligence, and closing

  • We bring negotiation and transaction expertise to the Purchase Sale & Agreement process. In fact, terms are often more important than price. At Washington Business Brokers we have 225+ terms / clauses used in previous transactions to draw from
  • We coordinate efforts across the team of buyer / seller advisors
  • We help you avoid obstacles to a successful sale

It sounds straightforward, right?  The keys to navigating the sales process are strong systems and experience. I’m referring to process expertise compiling documentation buyers will expect to see, valuing a business, confidentially marketing it, screening buyers for both fit and financial capacity, as well as in negotiating and closing. I invite you to read more about this domain expertise on our Services page.

Now I will provide additional insight into 8 core steps in successfully selling a business:

1. Select and retain advisors

Along with your business broker, the individuals you retain to represent you will have a large impact on the total transaction value and time to complete the transaction. We frequently recommend you consult with your CPA early into this process to review your personal tax situation and financial goals. Topics that you will want to discuss with your CPA may also include any preference for an asset or stock sale, openness to seller financing, and other tax minimization strategies. For larger businesses this step may also entail consulting an attorney.  

2. Business valuation

Valuing a business is a critical step when preparing a go-to-market plan. You leave money on the closing table by setting the price too low; conversely if you set the price too high the most qualified and sophisticated buyers won’t even inquire – they simply move on to an appropriately priced business. Use only professionals with valuation credentials and expertise. At Washington Business Brokers we pride ourselves on each broker maintaining a CPA license and/or valuation credential (compare us to others and see for yourself!).       

3. Confidential Business Review

The quality of the marketing information provided to prospective buyers establishes the first impression of what you have built. Ensure that it is well written, comprehensive, accurate, and timely.  This step cannot be underestimated in importance – it is when prospective buyers say “wow” – or not.  When we consult with business owners we provide examples of our deliverables; we are told again and again by prospective buyers that these set us apart. Think rich visuals, incorporating video and QR codes, and other best in class marketing tactics.

4. Buyer qualification    

Your advisor and business broker must be able to manage prospects and the process so that you remain focused on operating your business while we screen out unqualified buyers and tire kickers. To this end, we have invested in NDA / buyer registration technology on our site that kicks off a multi-step verification process within our CRM. These investments in technology benefit you in the form of a more efficient, well run process – which ensures you receive maximum value for your business.

5. Due Diligence

Tight management of the due diligence process is foundational to minimizing the time to complete your transaction. Your advisor / business broker needs to understand what requests are reasonable, which are not, and how to address questions without creating new ones.

6. Negotiation

Perhaps the most important skill set of your advisor is the ability to know what to negotiate, what not to negotiate, and how best to ensure that you receive the best price and terms possible.  

7. Financing

Frequently overlooked at the start of the sale process, an understanding of financing structures and the dozens and dozens of available term sheet items will further maximize your net at closing.

8. Closing / Funding

Assisting your buyer in funding the transaction is often left to the seller and their advisors (if any). You want a business broker / advisor with SBA and commercial lending contacts so that we can pull in expertise and banks with the appropriate lending appetite when needed.  

At Washington Business Brokers we are experts in valuation, optimizing a business for sale, buyer identification and qualification, negotiation, deal structuring, and closing. Our strategic advisor, Glen Cooper, has sold 500+ businesses in his career and is a nationally recognized author and trainer in selling private businesses.

We do not sell you on selling your business or buying one. Instead, we listen, provide options and expertise, and ultimately partner with you to accomplish your goals.

If you would like to better understand the value of your business or learn more about the process of confidentially selling:

call or text 937.344.8750
email [email protected]
or schedule time for an exploratory chat at calendly.com/ryanhemmert

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