Is your Business Fit to Sell?

Selling your business?

If you want to sell a car or house, it is much more likely to sell if it is in good working order and looks the part. It also has to be on the market at a realistic price to attract appropriate interest and buyers. The same applies to selling a business.

All too often when I sit down with owners they believe their businesses are ready to list for immediate marketing. However, the reality is that if they had put measures in place over a period time prior to listing they would be in a much stronger position. Recently, I met with an owner who wants to sell a very profitable business. Turnover and profit have doubled in the last 9 months on the back of a new contract, which looks fantastic. After a bit of unpicking, a picture emerged of significant fluctuations in turnover and profit over the last few years based on contracts won and lost. In addition, the business has a high dependence on the owner and his business development skills. If the current owner walked away a potential buyer would be taking a substantial risk. On the one hand, it could flourish, but on the other, the contracts may not renew and the business could fall away.

If you are planning to sell your business you need to make a plan which might take several years to enact. Many entrepreneurs are skilled at growing and running their businesses but need guidance to put in place their exit plan, which is why Weybrook Business Brokers offers support for owners who are preparing their businesses for sale.

Here is a checklist for preparing your business for sale:
1. Why do you want to sell?
Make sure you know why you want to sell and what you will do once you sell.

2. Get your Finances in order
Buyers want good records of business performance (at least 3 years trading accounts) but you will need to be in a position to convince them that their acquisition will deliver profitable growth going forward. Plausible forecasts and business plans will provide buyers with the necessary confidence to purchase your business.

3. Make sure your business is fit to sell
To make your business attractive to buyers it must be in a position to transfer effectively to new owners:
• Strong second-tier management team in place capable of running the key elements of the business once you have exited
• Key supplier and customer agreements secured
• Shareholder agreement (of the sale)
• Evidence of sustainable profitable growth
• Any legal issues resolved
• All paperwork up to date and in place (contracts, agreements, leases, trademarks, employee contracts and benefits).
• It may be necessary to put a 1-5 year plan in place to ensure your business is fit to sell.

4 Decide how you are going to sell.
Selling a business is time-consuming and complicated. This could easily divert you from running it, which might lead to a decline in performance driving down the value and making it less attractive to buyers. Our advice is to assemble a team of professionals to help you market the business. This team should include: your accountant and or finance director; a broker to market your business and a good commercial lawyer to tie up the contractual issues.

It is critical that during the sales process you focus on business as usual and let the broker find a buyer.

We hope this article was helpful. If you would like help putting together a plan to ensure your business is fit to sell, we have a number of packages to help you produce a plan We can also act as your broker