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Hire an M&A Professional to Sell Your Business

What are the best things an owner can do to prepare for a sale?

Barbara Taylor
Profile Picture of Barbara Taylor 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.  Full Bio
Q:

What are the best things an owner can do to prepare for a sale?

A: Well, I would say one of the simplest things you can do is to understand what your business is worth. Get a business valuation if you haven’t done one before so that you understand what drives the value of your business, what pulls the value down, and just have a clear understanding of what your business is worth to a buyer. It also helps to understand what type of buyer might be interested in your business and how those buyers tend to make acquisitions and structure deals. I have clients who get an updated business valuation every year because it’s extremely important to them that they know what their business is worth at all times.

At a practical level, you should have all of your housekeeping in order. All of your financial statements and record keeping should be up-to-date, accurate and available at a moment’s notice. Insurance policies and other types of documentation about your business should be on hand and ready to present to a buyer. All of the procedures and systems at your company should be documented, as well. In short, you should have everything ready to go for the due diligence process well in advance.

Another important issue is to make sure that you’ve had conversations with the key people who, when you do sell your business, are going to be affected by the outcome in some way. These would be people like family members, and many of the advisors that you work with, like financial planners, CPA’s, and attorneys. Make sure those people are clear on your intentions to eventually sell the business. They may have some critical input on what you need to do to prepare, as well.

Finally, I would recommend getting educated on the process of selling your business. There are several good books and blogs about what selling your business entails. Talk to people who have been through the process themselves, or work with people who go through it on a regular basis. Pretty much everyone will recommend that you have an understanding of the type of team you’ll need to have in place to get your business sold, and how to find and choose those people. Get them involved in the process -- especially deal professionals like business brokers and investment bankers -- earlier rather than later, and rely on them to help you with the preparation.

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