The prospect of selling your business can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right help, you can be sitting at the closing table sooner than you think. It starts with understanding your goals, formulating an exit strategy, and choosing the right broker to execute your plan. We are that Brokerage. Over the past 20 years, Business Brokers & Consultants has successfully closed hundreds of main street to mid-market acquisitions. We are a local Brokerage. Not a franchise. Your business offering will get global consideration, while you get personalized attention.
Develop an Exit Strategy
Don’t wait until you have to sell. Instead, think about how and when you are going to sell starting today. Find a Broker you like and work with them to develop a meaningful exit plan. You can request a free Exit Strategy Report or Consultation by clicking HERE. Meet with one of our brokers and learn what you can do today to make your business more attractive to buyers in the future. I little advanced planning now will ensure that your business commands a higher sale price tomorrow.
Keep Accurate Financial and other Business Records
These are the documents you should keep in order. They will be crucial when the time comes to value and sell your business. Make it a habit to have them on hand at all times.
- Three years of profit and loss statements
- Federal Income Tax returns for the business
- Year End and Year to date Payroll Reports
- List of fixtures and equipment
- Lease and lease related documents such as amendments
- A list of loans against the business (amounts and payment schedule)
- Copies of any equipment leases
- A copy of the franchise agreement, if you are a franchise
- An approximate amount of the inventory on hand
- The names of any outside advisors
Everything starts with this information. If you don’t have any of these records, make it a point to get them prepared. Make sure your financial statements are current and accurate.
Decide if it’s time to sell
You have a much higher probability of success if there is a concrete reason for selling your business. There are really only three good reasons to sell: these are liquidity, retirement, and the pursuit of other opportunities. Let’s begin with liquidity. You have a lot of money and sweat equity tied up in your business, but you can only turn it into cash when you sell. If you are ever approached by a buyer when you’re not actively looking to sell, you should strongly consider the offer. You may never be in a stronger bargaining position. Retirement and the pursuit of other career opportunities are also a good reasons for sale, particularly if you have successfully operated the business for years.
Try not to wait until you get tired and let the business decline. It will be harder to sell and erode its value. If you find yourself in this position, we can still help you, but don’t wait another day! Call us and let’s get started. We may already have a buyer that is looking for a business like yours.
Find out what your business is worth
Businesses are primarily valued based upon their discretionary cash flow (DCF). There are obviously other factors that add or detract from its value, but those are too involved to discuss in detail here. Our brokers will work with you to help uncover any hidden value in your business, understand the market, and then list your business at a competitive price. Ultimately, the market will dictate the sale price of your business. When you work with us ahead of time, we can help you take advantage of uptick’s in demand, favorable lending, and other factors that may increase its value.
List the Business for Sale
Meet with your Broker and sign a Listing Agreement. Our Listing Agreements are straight-forward contracts. We are compensated based solely on performance, and paid a commission at closing. From this point on, we are working for you to bring the transaction to a close.
Many of the “next steps” listed below are coordinated entirely by our team and, therefore, overlap in a time line. Our goal is to shorten the sales cycle by staying pro-active.
Develop a Business Profile & A Buyer Profile
We gather information about your business, the industry and prospective buyers. That information is used to prepare a comprehensive profile of your business. We then identify individuals in the same or interdependent industries and market your business directly to them. They will understand your business, its value, and are most likely to have interest in acquiring it. This combination in a buyer often results in the highest sale price.
Confidentially Market the Business
Meanwhile, your business is advertised on our web-site, industry specific publications, and all the major on-line listing services. These are “blind ads” that share just enough information about the business to generate interest, but do not disclose its name or specific location. That information, and the comprehensive profile are only shared with pre-screened buyers under nondisclosure agreement (NDA). This gives your business offering exposure to a wide range of buyers, but ensures that only a small pre-qualified number of those know it’s actual identity.
Pre-Qualify the Business with Lenders
We introduce the opportunity to a network of lenders, who specialize in cash-flow acquisitions. Our lenders will pre-approve the business and tell us how much they would be willing to loan against it once a suitable buyer is found.
About half of prospective buyers in America today have less than $100,000 of their own money to invest. That means they will need a loan, and it will probably be SBA backed. The SBA looks at your business just as closely as it looks at the buyer. Fulfilling its involved qualification requirements can be very time consuming. When we complete the business side of those requirements ahead of time, the deal will move forward quickly once an offer is in place.
Meet Serious Buyers
We pre-screen buyers and answer most of their questions. They will also have a good understanding of the business from the Comprehensive Marketing Profile we prepared. This means you will only meet the most serious candidates. Buyers want to see a business in person. They will do this by appointment, and typically after hours.
Serious buyers will prepare a Purchase Agreement and submit it with a good-faith deposit. A Purchase Agreement is not an unconditional promise to buy the business. It is a vehicle to move towards that end. It outlines the exact price, terms, and contingencies upon which the buyer would like to acquire your business. Typically, contingencies include things like review of company books and records, training, and their ability to obtain financing. Purchase offers can be countered and terms are often negotiated. Our Brokers are skilled intermediaries and their assistance in this phase is invaluable.
Perform Due Diligence
Once both parties consent to the terms of the purchase agreement, due diligence begins. This is a time period where all the contingencies laid out in the Purchase Agreement must be satisfied. Your Broker will help streamline the process by coordinating with you, the seller, outside advisors, lenders, and closing attorneys.
Obtain Financing (as needed)
Most buyers rely on an SBA backed loan to finance part of their purchase. Obtaining approval for these loans is a complex process, so we often have the entire business-side of the SBA paperwork completed beforehand. At this point, our Brokers will help the buyer complete their side of the requirements. We coordinate with the lenders, buyers, landlords, and any licensing agencies so that financing and other contingencies can be met within the time-frames provided.
Once all contingencies are removed from the Purchase Agreement, you will go to a closing. You hand over the keys, and the buyer becomes the new owner.
You will train and assist the buyer for an agreed period of time. Familiarizing the buyer with the ins and outs of the business helps ensure a smooth transition for employees and customers, as well as the buyer.