To Sell or not to Sell, and when and how are perhaps the toughest business decisions a company owner will face as an owner. Many owners will agonize over these questions for weeks, months, and sometimes years, but never find sufficient answers and never reach or act on a decision. To sell, or not to sell, is most often not decided on a single question, but on many.
- Will my company sell? Is there any demand for my type of company?
- What is the company worth? What would I net from the sale?
- Would there be tax consequences? What would they be?
- What should be included in the sale? What should be excluded?
- What about the bank loan? What about my personal guarantee?
- What about other payables? Taxes payable? Payroll payables?
- What about the Shareholders’ loans? Accrued bonus payables?
- Is there a good time to sell? A bad time? When is the best time?
- If the time is right now, or when the time is right, where would I start?
- Where would I find a buyer? How much can I tell a buyer when I do find one?
- Would any of my competitors be good prospects? Any suppliers? Customers? Employees?
- How would I approach a competitor? What will they want to see? How much can I show a competitor?
- Would any of my employees be good prospects? How about an employee group?
- How would I approach employees? How much can I tell them? Does this open Pandora’s box?
- What if I show someone confidential material (maybe a competitor), and they don’t buy?
- How much can I tell anyone, without risking harm to the company through exposure of trade secrets?
- How do I know whether an “interested party” is really interested in buying, or just interested in looking?
- What are the risks? What could be the consequence if word that the company is for sale gets out?
- Would it make employees nervous? Customers? Suppliers? Bankers?
- Would it provide competitive advantage to a competitor?
- How do I do all this without incurring unacceptable risk?
- Can I do this myself? How much of my time would it consume? Would it be the best use of my time?
- If I try to do this myself, how can I protect and maintain confidentiality?
- How could I advertise for a buyer without disclosing intent to sell? Where could I advertise?
- Is this my forte or should I get help? Where do I find professional help? How much will that help cost?
Agonizing over these and other questions, but not reaching or acting on a decision IS a decision to do nothing for now. Thus, it seems small businesses seldom sell too soon, but often begin the process too late. In fact, many, if not most, never sell at all, but eventually just fade away. Others will sell for much less than the company’s former worth, simply because the owner didn’t find the answers in time. Other times, owners will cost themselves thousands of dollars, (many thousands in some cases), by beginning the process without the answers and without a comprehensive plan.
Nevertheless, unless there is a family member ready and willing to take over, there should hopefully come a day in the life of every good and profitable business, when the time will be right to sell. And, while selling the company may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it should also be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; the last opportunity from the business and one you’ll want to get right.
We can help you get it right. We can provide or help you find the answers to the above questions and others. We can help you determine when the time is right, help determine the right price, help prepare you and the company for sale, and help you get the job done quickly and quietly.