How long does it typically take to sell a mid-market business?

By Barbara Taylor | Last updated: February 23, 2021
From your experience, how long does it typically take to sell a business in the lower middle market?

Well, like everything with selling your business, that question is not as straightforward as it would seem. If the question is how long does it take for a business broker, M&A advisor, or intermediary to sell your business, I would say that you should plan on it taking about a year. At my firm, we have experienced the average for getting a business sold to be in the nine to ten month range. That would be if you figure the starting point being when a business owner client signs a service engagement agreement with my firm to the day that the closing happens. I usually tell business owners to mentally prepare for it to take approximately a year for somebody like myself to sell their business, but that is assuming that your business is ready to go to market.

When we first meet with business owners, we typically start with the valuation process, which offers us some initial due diligence into the business as well as giving us an idea of what a buyer would pay. By going through this exercise we often realize that it would be best to do some planning and preparation, or put a little bit of work into getting the business ready to go to market. That can take six months, or up to two or three years.

So there are two answers to your question. If your business is ready to sell, it typically takes about a year from preparation to closing. If your business is not prepared to sell, there may be additional time involved to get to the point of sellability.

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Sale Process Entrepreneur Preparation Exit Planning Purchase and Sale Agreement Negotiation

Written by Barbara Taylor

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Barbara is the co-founder of Allan Taylor, a boutique M&A firm located in Northwest Arkansas. She began her entrepreneurial journey after moving from Seattle to Northwest Arkansas with her family in 2003. Seeing a need for a decent cup of coffee, she and her husband started the first drive-thru espresso business in the state of Arkansas. They successfully built the business into a popular micro-chain, and eventually sold it to an outside buyer. In her role as a business broker, Barbara combines her first-hand experience as a selling owner with her extensive knowledge of the selling process to help business owners cash out and move on.

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