Unless there are family members ready, willing and able to take over, there should hopefully come a day in the life of every good and profitable business, where the time will be right to sell. When that time comes and when you do decide to sell, we suggest that you begin the process very discreetly. Our recommendation is to begin silently.
Good timing is important to the selling decision and every step thereafter. We recommend a very deliberately prepared selling strategy and that you resist the frequent impulse to “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Take a good look at your Company. Take a fresh look if possible. Let us help you take a look. If you were to graph your Company, what would it look like? Is the graph growing? Is it declining? Is it flat? Is it all over the place? Why? If possible, sell while your business is on the rise, rather than on the decline. In fact, strategize the selling plan to close on the upside of its annual business cycle, if possible. Develop a detailed selling strategy. It might mean making some hard business decisions and maybe making some corrections before offering the Company up for sale.
In case that all sounds a bit obvious, like the old adage “buy low; sell high,” it is important to note that selling a business is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many business owners, who, having no previous selling experience, often do not recognized the right-timing signs. Owners are often unable to take a fresh and objective look, and simply need help to do so. We have found, with great frequency, owners who have missed their optimum chance, forever, simply because they waited until time had eroded the energy and enthusiasm that had once built the business, or until age, poor health and other issues had withdrawn all good options. Then, upon realization that they needed to do something, many owners have cost themselves thousands of dollars, (many thousands in some cases), by stepping out into a hopeful; maybe wistful, unstructured selling process without preparation and without any real plan.
Selling the company for its full market value requires good timing and a detailed selling strategy complete with selling price, terms of payment and justification for both. It requires the business to be prepared for sale. A detailed selling package should be developed, completed and ready for presentation before anyone reads an ad or hears the company even might be for sale, and then any such disclosure should be provided on a need-to-know basis and under strict terms of confidentiality.
We certainly recommend that you do not begin the process by floating trial balloons amongst suppliers, customers and/or competitors within your industry, or indeed, with anyone, on-line or elsewhere. Bad things can and do happen when the wrong people know, or think they know, a business is for sale.
Just as this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you, it may also represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are not timely, prepared and strategic with this one last opportunity from this business you’ve built, you probably won’t take as much from it as you could.