As far as your business being ready to sell, I would first ask the business owner what their goal is for the outcome of a sale. Depending on your answer, the business may or may not be ready. Some business owners want to get the highest price for their business, some business owners just want to get out from under the burden of being a business owner and aren’t as concerned about getting the highest valuation. Some business owners want to find somebody else to be a majority owner so that they can just be an employee.
There are a number of possible outcomes from a sale, and I think you first need to gain clarity on what it is that you’re looking for from selling your business. What’s your goal? The scenarios listed above are all very different. Based on the outcome you’re trying to achieve, you can address whether or not the sale of your business is going to support your ultimate goal for selling it.
If you take the example of an owner wanting the highest price possible, the business is ready to sell when it has the qualities that will make it appealing to a number of buyers, and entice them to make you a good offer for your business. The qualities that your business will need to make it sellable will vary based on its size and industry, but in general the buyer is going to be looking for a history of strong financial performance that’s consistent year over year, preferably with all key performance indicators moving upwards. Selling in a down year is usually a bad idea. It’s almost guaranteed to lower your valuation.