Every business, regardless of its size, usually comes with ups and downs. Whatever the concern may be, the options about selling a business are always open to many business owners. However, in most cases selling is not the biggest question - instead, knowing how and where to sell is the most serious problem to tackle.
We all reckon the traditional way of selling a business that dates back to a marketplace based on traditional (offline) marketing. If you clearly remember the "FOR SALE" signs in windows and the thousands of flyers carrying the same message, you know what we are talking about. And you know that those efforts are a long gone history - but what's the mystery?
The Digital Way of Selling Your Business
Nowadays, we experience networking in another way - through social media, business forums and even webinars. We make a huge part of our decisions based on the things we see online. It's clear that the Internet has changed the corporate rhythm - transforming the "FOR SALE" flyers and window signs into pixels and clickable buttons.
What does this mean?
It means that perhaps NOW is the best time to sell your business. But more importantly, it's the best time to learn how and where to sell it. Therefore, if you don't have plenty of options on the table to sell your company in a safe and discrete way, the Internet can come and rescue you from the trouble.
So, let's learn how and where can you sell a business online.
Related: How sellable is your business anyway?
How to Advertise Your Business for Sale
The big question in knowing how to advertise a business for sale might come with many extra benefits. It's a common fact that a business can skyrocket its price if the advertising efforts are done in the right way – so, learning the valuable insights is what advertising a sale listing is all about.
Let's start with some of the most valuable insights you should make.
1. Give More Information on Your Business
Possibly the biggest reason for a potential buyer to be skeptic is the lack of information. Just as you wouldn't purchase a product online without reading previous reviews by buyers, it all goes similarly in the business for sale marketplace.
Video: Joseph Blygges, a former business owner, explains how he sold his cleaning business
On the other hand, giving out more information relates to a professional way of handling a business sale and maximum reliability. When more information is given, a customer feels closer with the product or service – and in our case, selling a business with plenty of description is the first thing to consider.
The most beneficial information that buyers want to see when seeing a business-for-sale advert includes:
- the location of the business
- number of employees
- a brief history, changes and growth numbers - but also its value proposition
- a special feel on the business' mission, vision and goals
- the geographic area and how it relates to the business
- the adjusted net income and how it's figured
- mobile numbers, email information, website information, social media profiles
2. Optimize It for the Likely Buyer
Is your business a great value for money? Does it offer a sound ROI if operated effectively? What are the growth opportunities? Why is it a great investment opportunity?
Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. Start thinking about the value your business-for-sale advert carries and the voice in which it is written. Figure out who is most likely to buy your business and the best way to reach them. Try to think like the potential buyer - and you will most likely get that 'meet and greet' date.
3. Think Outside the Box
We already mentioned about how vital finding the best way to reach the buyer is. But is there a best way at all?
In fact, there are many ways - just as there are many things to consider when selling your business. For example, if you are selling a franchise business, make sure you contact your franchisor before listing your business and prevent any potential damage done to the contractual obligations and legal rules to follow.
On paper, the profile of the potential buyer may look like:
- an individual who lives or wants to live in your area
- an individual who runs similar businesses across the region yet still hasn't made a move in your region
- a potential investor or investor group targeting your region
- an individual that has all the specific credentials and certifications and is liable to acquire your business
- your competitor with a strategic reason to acquire your business
- your supplier with a motive and a solid know-how of the operations within your business
Even the worst case scenario when knowing these options will result with a word spread in the corporate culture about you and your business.
Selling a Business: Going the FSBO Route vs Hiring a Broker
Now that you know how to optimize your business sale advert in the best way possible, let's proceed on the best online advertising locations.
Where To Sell Your Business? - The Best Online Advertising Channels To List a Business for Sale
1. Business for Sale Classifieds
Selling your business can be now done online - as long as you have a good pitch and a potential buyer to grasp it well - and hopefully click the "Buy" button. There are many classifieds (classified websites) to consider when selling your business, and listing it over there is definitely a cost-effective decision to make.
Some of the most popular and reliable online channels for selling a business - that you might want to consider, are:
- https://exitadviser.com/ (US, Canada)
- https://www.businessesforsale.com/ (Worldwide)
- https://www.businessforsale.com/ (US)
- https://www.businessbroker.net/ (US)
- https://www.craigslist.com/ (US)
- https://www.seekcommercial.com.au/ (Australia)
- https://www.daltonsbusiness.com/ (UK)
- https://www.primebusiness.co.nz/ (New Zealand)
Also, consider your local online classifieds as another option.
2. Feature Your Ad - And Never Give Up
What if your ad could get listed on the classifieds homepage for a few extra dollars daily? Will it be more popular - yes. But will it land you the prospective buyer(s) your targeted - it's not guaranteed.
The online marketplace has its ups and downs - but it is of utmost importance to never give up with your marketing and online advertising efforts when selling a business - be persistent and regularly update them if needed.
Even if you come to the point of landing a potential deal, the reality is - that even 50% of all offers to purchase businesses are never completed. That is why you should run your advertising game until the final check is in your hand. Consider the offers as a playground and never settle for one option, leaving all the other interested buyers out there in the open.
3. Hire a Business Broker
Who knows more about your options when selling a business - than a business broker? That being said, the link between a prospective buyer wanting to buy a property and start a similar business like yours and the one you are listing for sale is there.
In reality, professional business brokers are well-connected to both buyers and sellers. Therefore, seeing your business for sale and matching it with an investor definitely translates to taking two birds with one stone. Apart from that, business brokers know how to prepare you for the most common questions that buyers ask and present your financials adequately.
Hiring a business broker is a great solution - however, you should have in mind that it comes with a fee, one that may cover from 5-15% of the final sale price.
4. Networking is a Game You Should Play - Both Online and Offline
Website owners, publication writers, CEOs - are all among the targeted people you should go and speak to. Why?
Well, here are some solid facts:
- Buyers interested in specific industries often tend to search by business type and let the industry specialists know their quest even before it's needed.
- Buyers interested in buying a business for sale attend public networking events and specific industry conferences - as a chance to seek leads and be more informed about the industry
- Foreign buyers looking for a business in your country/region play the networking game on business forums - most commonly asking questions about the corporate climate, opportunities etc.
- Last but not the least, even 9 out of 10 people shop online listings, whether they are working with a broker or are open to all geographic areas.
Selling Your Business Online - Facts You Should Be Abreast Of
There is always some room for extra tips, no matter what the theory looks like. And that's why we leave the facts about selling a business online to tell their side of the story.
- Consider Time As A Real Virtue - Rushing your business to market always leads with complications during the selling process. The decision to sell your business is not easy at all - which is why you should allow several months before making it and take note of the big picture while figuring out all the information you would present the prospective buyers with.
- Determine A Fair Price - If you don't know how to do this, there are many online marketplaces that determine a fair and standard selling price - by comparing the businesses previous sold, the geographic area, cash flow, gross income and many other variables.
- Don't Give Away Your Identity - Listing your business for sale should cover as much information as we said earlier, but definitely not unveil your business identity. In other words, creating a separate email address and phone number for inquiries from potential buyers can be a great choice. Customers can after all be skeptical - and you don't want that kind of behavior especially before getting a good price tag on your business.
- The Easiest Businesses To Sell - According to a research, the largest category of business listings being sold online were restaurants, taking almost 15% of the pie. Apart from restaurants, service establishments such as auto repair shops and dry cleaners are among the popular online businesses to buy.
- The Easiest Regions To Sell In - Last year in the US, Florida had a "booming" marketplace for business listings - with almost 15% business domination of the total number of businesses for sale. The next regions on the list include California, New York, Texas, New Jersey and Arizona.
A Final Word
In the end, you should know that using an online business-for-sale marketplace acts as a two-way street, so it requires mutual action and understanding. That being said, you should definitely have your fingers crossed for landing a deal, but also keep in mind your utmost attention to detail from the buyer - and insist on open communication until the very end.