Checking the Status

Are you ready to sell? How sellable is your business, and is it prepared for sale? This track is about checking the status, timing, and sellability.

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This is a reality check for you. The last chance to be sure that you've covered all the bases.

Rarely is selling a business just about you. Whilst it's good to probe your own feelings about the sale, it’s equally important to take into account the views of significant others affected by the decision.

Be sure to have a credible story for the buyer about why you want to sell the business now. You’ll also need to plan when and how to communicate your decision to significant others. The main distinction is between those that need to know now and those that, for reasons of business continuity or commercial sensitivity, will only find out later in the sale process.

It's also helpful if you haven't done so already, to carefully consider how you will spend your time after the sale. This may be significant for assessing how much money the business needs to raise through the sale to realize your future plans.

There may be other practicalities that you haven't fully considered. For example, whether the exit planned is realistic. The timing of your business exit can have an important bearing on the price received. This is another reason why it's sensible to carry out an external review of your trading environment alongside an internal audit of the business.

When is a good time to sell your business? This depends on a number of factors, some within, and some outside your control. You control your own feelings, perhaps after sounding out the views and feelings of significant others.

The minimum business sale price needed will depend on other income sources and realizable assets, set against future commitments, such as ongoing personal financial commitments, the cost of your desired future lifestyle, and any further planned asset acquisitions after the sale, to mention just a few. Again you’ve got a significant influence on these aspects of the sale decision, and you could make adjustments if you wish.

Outside of your control are the prevailing market conditions, which have an impact on supply and demand for existing businesses similar to yours, and affect the price valuation at this time. You may decide to make changes to the business, to increase its value and sellability, but this could take time and require you to postpone your decision to sell.

Actions to take:

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Expected outcome:

Decision to sell made.

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There’s more to this than meets the eye.

Effectively handling the release and timing of information to those affected by your decision is vital. You need to understand and manage the psychological aspects of what’s a potentially sensitive situation.

Close family members and business partners or shareholders are likely to hear your decision first, probably communicated in person. Thereafter you need to think carefully because it’s vital to a buyer that the business remains a going concern after the sale. The last thing you want is a mass exodus of staff if they sense that their livelihoods are at stake. In terms of key employees, you need to decide who to take into your confidence early on, again communicated face-to-face.

Customers, other staff, suppliers, distributors and other parties affected will probably hear later. It’s strongly recommended that you plan on how, when, and where this communication will take place for each concerned group.

Actions to take:

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Expected outcome:

Decision to sell, professionally communicated.

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