Selling a Business | 9 minute read

Sell My Business:
A Complete Guide to Selling Your Business

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As a business owner, you’ve likely gone through countless hurdles setting yourself up for success. Whether you have decided to adopt the buy-and-build strategy, blue ocean strategy, or another unique corporate strategy, it takes time, money, and effort to set your foundations, develop habits of growth, and build a recognizable brand.

Considering the challenges you must have faced when establishing and maintaining your business, you might think that selling it all would be much simpler.

Unfortunately, though, it rarely is.

Putting up your business for sale can often require several complicated steps that take quite a while to complete.

That is why the Find Businesses 4 Sale platform was created. Designed to turn the complicated sale process into something you can complete in a few simple steps, Find Businesses 4 Sale connects you with hundreds of thousands of prospective buyers and enables you to make a sale quickly.

Explore this ultimate guide for business sellers and learn how to turn the complicated process of selling your business into a fully streamlined experience.

Start exit planning well in advance

Regardless of your type of business, whether it’s an online business, a small family-owned restaurant, a hotel, a ranch, or anything in between, it’s always in your best interest to develop a comprehensive exit strategy well in advance.

A well-defined exit strategy could be helpful even if you’re amid new business acquisitions and have no immediate plans to start a sales process.

After all, it’s not just a plan to end the business. It’s a plan that can push your business forward (with or without your involvement) and ensure that any transition to new ownership goes as smoothly as possible.

Moreover, it can ensure that you can maximize the value of your business and attract more potential buyers when the time comes to make the sale.

As a general rule of thumb, an exit plan should include to whom you want to pass along the business. It should define whether it’s in your best interest to look for buyers versus family members, for instance, who can take on the mantle. It should outline whether you want to sell only physical assets or any intellectual property associated with the business.

Moreover, it should include step-by-step guidance on how best to exit—not only for your financial gain but for the well-being of your company, current employees, and any existing clients.

Get the timing right

Image of a person selling their business checking the time

Business leaders could have a multitude of reasons for selling their companies. Some are experiencing profit woes and want to sell before they’re forced to file for bankruptcy. Others are dissatisfied with their inadequate growth in the industry and want to move on before competitors can overtake them. Others still simply want to retire and start a healthy family trust fund for their loved ones.

Regardless of your reasons for getting your business ready for a sale, unless you’re backed into a corner, you’ll want to do all you can to get the timing right.

The reasoning behind that is pretty straightforward—the better your timing, the higher your business valuation will be.

Naturally, you’ll get a much lower selling price if you sell when your business processes have not yet been perfected, your annual profits are plummeting, and your customer reviews are predominantly poor. Moreover, you won’t be able to attract the types of buyers you want.

To get the timing right, you’ll want to start preparing for the sale at least a year or two in advance if the circumstances allow it.

Take this time to make your business as profitable as it can be. Improve your financial statements and records, enhance your business processes, and work on your business structure. Look into service and product details you could improve and perfect your customer service.

While these complicated steps can require significant business investments, they will be well worth it as you’ll receive a much higher sale price than you might be hoping.

Schedule a business valuation

Setting a sale price without an expert business valuation will turn away potential buyers.

Brick-and-mortar shops, online businesses, SMBs with a small array of product categories, and large enterprises alike all need a professional valuation before they can go on the market.

After all, you don’t want to price your business too low or too high.

Setting a price that’s too low will negatively affect you, your partners, and even your employees. You’ll miss out on potential profits and appeal only to a small group of buyers.

With a price that’s too low, any strategic buyer will be under the impression that there’s something wrong with the business. Serious buyers will be less likely to enter a sales agreement with you.

On the other hand, setting a price that’s too high will likely cause many interested buyers to disregard your listing. If you’re not within their price range, they won’t even bother glancing at your listing again, meaning it will take you much more time to make a sale.

That’s why using professional valuators is always in your best interest.

Business valuators will consider anything and everything that would impact the value of your business—tangible and intangible assets, intellectual property, average annual profits, your product database, workforce, and more.

They’ll also look into your business plans and strategies, inventory, outstanding debts, tax considerations, and legal liabilities, among many other things. Their thorough assessment will help you set the highest price for the current market conditions that will attract more buyers.

Familiarize yourself with the due diligence process

Image of piles of paperwork for selling a business

Most commonly, the entire business sales process tends to go smoothly until prospective buyers start with their due diligence—that’s when most deals and agreements usually fall through.

Avid business leaders surrounded by a team of expert advisors, or at the very least, those who have read a couple of business books by author Fred S. Steingold, will know the importance of conducting due diligence.

They (or their advisory team) will thoroughly analyze your business, examining every minute detail. They’ll review all your financial paperwork, look into any past staffing issues, assess your product reviews, examine your product samples, and more. They’ll even look into potential environmental and social impact issues and analyze your online and offline reputation.

Usually, that means they’ll have many questions and enough negotiating leverage to bring the price of your business down.

To keep prospective buyers interested and ensure that you get the best price possible, you’ll need to understand the due diligence process fully. You and your advisory team need to prepare for the rigorous process and, in a nutshell, prepare a defence for your business.

Optional – get a broker

In some circumstances, listing your business for sale by yourself could be the best option for you. For instance, if you plan to sell to a family member, a trusted employee, or even your current business partner, doing so without any middleman could work.

However, you’ll want to sell your business through a broker to minimize risks, attract more buyers, and get the highest possible price.

While a business broker could ask for a high commission, it’s usually well worth it. They can help make the entire sale process streamlined and issue-free.

Brokers take on numerous responsibilities. They typically have a vast network of qualified buyers with whom they can connect you. They help you gather all the essential information, connect you with valuators and help you get a higher price, facilitate discussions between buyers and sellers, and assist in the negotiation process.

They can also handle all the marketing and listing, draft the confidentiality letter, and assist with almost every sale process step.

Therefore, you can focus on managing the final stages of your business and ensuring continued operations while the business broker takes care of all the rest.

While Find Businesses 4 Sale primarily specializes in connecting and facilitating discussions between buyers and sellers, it can also connect you with reliable brokers who can help you sell your business for a higher profit. Use the platform to communicate with brokers and realtors, and let them handle your business sale.

Get your documentation in order

Image of a person gathering documents for selling their business

Before you list your business for sale, one of the most critical steps you’ll need to complete is getting all your documentation in order. While that can be exhausting, it’s of utmost importance if you want the sale to go smoothly.

You’ll need all financial statements and tax returns from the past three to four years. Some buyers might even require them dating back to when you first opened your business. Review your financial records with your accountant to ensure everything is there.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply have your tax returns and have statements showing your average annual profit. You’ll also need to provide all other relevant documentation.

That can include (but is not limited to) all vendor contracts and sales reports, current lease paperwork, and expense reports.

You’ll likely have to offer a comprehensive summary of your business operations and a complete operating manual. You’ll also need to hand over your email list, client contacts, employee contracts, and more.

Additionally, you’ll need to provide all relevant paperwork for any tools or equipment you’re selling.

Considering that gathering all the necessary documentation can take a while, we advise you to start the process as soon as you decide to list your business on Find Businesses 4 Sale. It would be in your interest to include document management strategies in your exit plan to stay on top of all your paperwork well before you decide to make the sale.

Create your listing on Find Businesses 4 Sale

Finally, it’s time to list your business on Find Businesses 4 Sale.

Find Businesses 4 Sale is a data-driven marketplace designed to connect qualified business buyers and sellers and make it easier on you to list your business and sell it without any obstacles.

You can use the platform to create listings for businesses across fields and niches, including:

  • Online businesses
  • Restaurants
  • Fast food franchises
  • Hotels
  • Resorts
  • Healthcare businesses
  • Retail businesses
  • Wholesalers/distributors
  • Construction businesses
  • Agricultural businesses, etc.

When creating a listing on Find Businesses 4 Sale, it’s of the utmost importance to be transparent, truthful, and informative. Every listing must include all relevant information before a seller can publish it. Some of the required information includes:

  • Listing title
  • Business information summary
  • Business category
  • Operational information
  • Location
  • Financial information
  • Photos and documentation
  • Other relevant information

Only once you’ve provided all the required information can your listing become public and available to all the qualified buyers on the platform.

Creating an account and publishing listings on Find Businesses 4 Sale is free, and you can get started immediately. The platform makes a commission upon the completion of the transaction, so you won’t have to spend a dime to create listings and connect with buyers. However, you can upgrade to a premium account to unlock advanced features that can make your listings more appealing to buyers.

At Find Businesses 4 Sale, we understand that selling a business can be sensitive, so we always have our buyers and sellers sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure the utmost privacy. However, if you prefer, you can also upload your customized NDA form.

Connect with a qualified buyer

Image of a business buyer and seller shaking hands in agreement

Last but certainly not least, you must connect with a qualified buyer. Find Businesses 4 Sale has an internal messaging centre that enables seamless communication between buyers and sellers, allowing you to contact interested parties directly.

While focusing on a single buyer might seem wise, it’s usually in your best interest to find at least a few qualified buyers—if you can’t reach an agreement with one.

When you have a couple of potential buyers, you’ll want to ensure they’re pre-qualified for financing and able to meet your asking price. Of course, you should always be slightly flexible on the price, but you’ll still need to ensure you get a reasonable offer that aligns with your business valuation.

Finally, always ensure that any prospective buyer signs an NDA before you share sensitive information about your business and have any agreement you reach with them in writing.

If you don’t want to deal with buyers directly, you can always use Find Businesses 4 Sale to find reputable brokers and have them handle this process.

Final thoughts

Selling a business is always a challenging process. It takes much time and effort to get everything in order, prepare the documentation, and close the deal with a qualified buyer.

However, with Find Businesses 4 Sale, this entire process is as simple as possible. Join the platform, connect with brokers and buyers, and sell your business in record time at a record price.

FAQ

How can I make my business listing stand out?

Making your business listing stand out on Find Businesses 4 Sale is simple. All you’ll have to do is provide relevant, up-to-date, truthful information about your business and upload a few high-quality pictures of the property and assets you have.

Additionally, you’ll want to stay active on the platform, answering any questions or inquiries prospective buyers may have.

Although you never have to pay to publish a listing on Find Businesses 4 Sale, you can upgrade to a premium account to highlight your business to all the qualified buyers interested in it.

Do I have to pay to publish my listing on Find Businesses 4 Sale?

Creating an account and publishing a business listing is always free on Find Businesses 4 Sale. The platform earns a commission only when you complete a transaction—never before. You can always post business-for-sale ads without paying a dime.

However, if you want to unlock advanced seller features and have your business listing highlighted on the platform, you can upgrade to a premium account.

How long does selling my business on Find Businesses 4 Sale take?

How long it takes to sell your business on Find Businesses 4 Sale depends on several unique factors—current market trends in your industry, the condition of your business, your asking price, location, availability, and more.

Even if you connect with a prospective buyer as soon as you publish your listing, the sale process can still take a while.

As a general rule of thumb, you should expect selling your business to take a few weeks up to a few months. The process will go quicker if you and your prospective buyer have all the documentation before getting started.

 

Written by

Manoj Kukreja is a real estate expert and trusted guide in the pursuit of the perfect property. With a remarkable professional journey, Manoj began his career in major Canadian financial institutions, achieving the prestigious Certified Financial Planner designation in 2010. During this time, they earned recognition as one of Canada's top ten financial planners and also played a role in training industry peers. Manoj's extensive financial background now serves as a valuable asset in the real estate domain, ensuring clients make informed decisions during their property search.

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