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Ground Rules for Successfully Selling Your Business

Ground Rules for Successfully Selling Your Business

By: Aiza Gill

Sooner or later you are going to exit your business. The question isn’t whether or not you will be ready. The sixty four thousand dollar question is whether or not your business will be ready.

It is estimated that seven out of ten privately held businesses have no succession plan to transfer the business to the next generation of owners. What does that mean to you? It means that if you do not currently have a plan in place to transfer your business to family members, existing partners, management or employees, someday you will think about selling your business.

That day might come sooner than you anticipate. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are not currently ready to retire that you have plenty of time to prepare your business for sale.

As a business broker, I have been involved in a number of transactions (and potential transactions) where the business owner wanted to sell, or in some instances, was forced to exit the business earlier than expected. In fact, retirement is NOT the number one reason why businesses sell.

Here is a list of the most common reasons why owners sell (or otherwise discontinue) their businesses:

Burn-out (the number one reason for selling)

    • Health issues
    • Personal diversification
    • Retirement/semi-retirement
    • Death
    • Divorce/partner disputes
    • Business growing too fast
    • Second generation not up to the task
    • Loss of market share

Take Good Care

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The sad truth is that many business owners do not take good care of their most valuable asset: the business. They don’t groom someone to continue the business in their absence, and do not keep the business in salable shape during the time they operate the business.

Business owners tend to get too bogged down in the day to day business operations to worry about–or plan for an event that they perceive won’t occur until sometime in the distant future; selling the business.

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