Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Ten Top Tips When Selling A Business

  1. Presales planning is an essential part of your exit strategy which can take several years to prepare.
  2. A solid management structure is essential and migrates risk for a buyer.  An organisational chart, succession planning, training, policies, processes and procedures shore up an essential management structure in business.  Are good people going to stay? If not have you succession & training plans in place to bring on other talent within your company?  If things typically fall apart during your annual holiday, how will things last when you sell?
  3. Maintaining confidentiality is of upmost importance, leakage can destabilise not only your clients and order book but also your staff and management team.  Your buyer will also not want things to be announced too soon either.  Two weeks prior to the agreement being formalised is typically the timescale for making 3rd parties aware.
  4. Shareholder buy-in is essential for a smooth transition.  Ensure that things are resolved and in place prior to putting your business up for sale.  Dispute resolution at a later stage can be costly and disruptive.
  5. Reputation within your industry is an important USP which can stand you head and shoulders above your competition.  Are you an active member of an industry specific body? Or sit on the board of your local chamber of commerce for example?  Perhaps you are an active member of the IoD?
  6. Carry out a SWOT & business audit, ensure problems are identified and dealt with to negate trips and falls during due diligence.  If genuine problems are there, let potential purchasers know in advance.
  7. Full management accounts will be required and back-up documentation, information on leases or mortgages and so forth need to be provided in full.  This is in addition to normally annual accounting information you will be required to produce.  Your business selling agent will require this information during the valuation stage so this shouldn’t be a problem.  However, if you are looking to sell a year or two down the line keep things in order.
  8. Be open minded on the deal structure and don’t mention price too early in any negotiations.  Employing a professional business selling agent will ensure that multiple buyers are pitched to get you the best deal.  This comes with experience.
  9. A professional business broker should be able to recommend experienced accountants and solicitors.  Just because you have professionals in place and have relationships with them doesn’t mean they are best placed to handle your business sale.  You wouldn’t ask an employment lawyer to handle a divorce would you? Ask your business selling agent if they can recommend someone.
  10. Don’t take your foot of the pedal whilst selling your business, your order book and customer satisfaction levels need to remain strong and robust.  Adding value during the sales process shows your commitment to the business.
Gill Evans, Marketing Manager

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