How to Sell your Business
So you've decided to sell your business but how exactly do you go about doing that?
The first question you need to ask is can your business be sold? Taking two extremes, if for example you are a professional poker player, then the business is completely dependent on your skills to win money...you cannot sell this as a business. On the other hand if you have a business that doesn't require any input and just makes money without anyone having to do anything then as long as you can find someone to buy it who actually has the money then this is a relatively easy business to sell.
Assuming your business is saleable, then you need to make it ready for sale. To do this all your accounts need to be up to date, you need to make sure all the financial information is available so the buyer can see what they are buying...usually this information includes the businesses last 3 years of data such as profit and loss statements, tax returns, list of fixtures, fittings and equipment and stock list.
You need to tell people your business is for sale - seems pretty obvious doesn't it! There are a lot of online websites which sell businesses (bricks and mortar as well as online websites). Another way of selling your business is to approach your competitors - they might be interested in buying you out.
Alternatively there could be a member of staff who works for you and who has the necessary skills to take over the business from you. Both of these can be problematic in that your competition might spread rumors that your business is failing and you tried to sell them your business...this could ultimately ruin your business and make it unsaleable. Selling your business to an employer can be a good solution but the likelihood is the employer doesn't have the business funding to buy your business - hence the reason why they were working for you and you might not realise the true worth of the company to sell to them...of course this can work the other way - the employer knows how the business works and can see ways to improve it and therefore you can get a better price for it.
Don't forget before you start showing a potential buyer all your trade secrets, you need to get them to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Selling a business is a bit like selling a house - you rarely get what you want for it. Be prepared for disappointing offers, but don't let it get you down, people are always after a bargain. Sometimes you will get offers which might be dependent on future sales, or you might get paid in installments for your business.
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