What If I Have to Sell the Business?

Making the decision to sell your small business may be an emotional and frustrating time.

The process can also be complicated, and according to nonprofit association for entrepreneurs SCORE, it can take between six months to two years to sell a business. All of this can add up to some serious stress.

Here are a few tips to make the sale go a little easier and keep your sanity intact:

Make It Attractive to Buyers

There are a myriad of reasons why you might need to sell your business, including retirement, problems with your business partner, or impossible-to-maintain work/life balance.

You might also think about selling if you're not making a profit, but this makes the business less attractive to potential buyers. After all, if you couldn't make a profit, there's no guarantee they will, either.

Before you try to sell your low-performing business, try making it more attractive or focus on its positive attributes.

Things that help convince a potential buyer include consistent income figures, a strong and loyal customer base, or a long-term contract with a large client.

Get Organized

Before listing your business for sale, you need to gather a list of documents. Have an accountant review your financial statements and tax returns for the past three to four years to make sure there aren't any errors or glitches that could delay a sale.

Prepare a contact list of vendors and customers, along with a list of equipment that will stay with the business after the sale.

If your business leases property, you'll also need a copy of the lease agreement. Copies of all of these documents will need to be handed out to potential buyers.

Get an Appraiser and Broker

You need to know the fair market value of your business before trying to sell it. Have an appraiser come up with a detailed valuation of your business to add legitimacy to your asking price.

Hiring a broker to handle the sale is optional. If you have a trusted family member or employee who wants to buy the business from you, a broker might not be necessary.

But if you're still looking for a buyer, and you need to keep the business running while it's on the market, a broker can be a valuable resource.

Your broker may also help you get a better price -- it is, after all, in his best interest to sell high and maximize his commission.

Find a Buyer

Now that everything's ready to go and you have an appraisal value to work from, it's time to start advertising your sale.

Your broker will probably handle some of this for you, but don't just rely on him -- take a proactive role in getting the word out, both online and off.

When prospects start contacting you, pre-qualify them for financing before you give them information about the business.

While selling your business can be a stressful time, keeping everything organized and having a plan in place will help ease the burden.

About the author

Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for small business owners. From business growth to marketing to management, her work will give you tips to keep your business running smoothly.


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