Q.1 Do I really want to sell my business and, if so, why?
- Do you want to sell because you’ve had the business for five years and the results have been poor?
- Do you want to sell because you’re over-exposed to borrowings, your cash flow is tight and you can’t see a way to get ahead?
- Do you want to sell because it’s time to retire or move on to the next stage of your career?
Your reasons for selling will help you create a negotiation framework to determine what an acceptable offer might be, so it is critical you be honest with yourself when answering this question.
You also need to clarify the sale objectives of your spouse and/or any shareholders and business partners.
Q.2 How much is the business worth?
Before you invest time, effort and money in a sales process, make sure you get professional advice and, ideally, a business valuation on the fair market value of your business prior to progressing to a sale process.
This advice needs to come from a credible advisor closely involved in buying and selling businesses; someone who is up-to-date with market transactions.
A valuation for sale purposes is not a theoretical exercise. Ideally it needs to be conducted by an advisor with relevant market intelligence and experience.
Q.3 What are the tax implications of selling?
Don’t wait until you’re getting offers on your business to understand the potential tax benefits and tax minimisation opportunities that may be available in the course of selling your business.
Get solid advice from your accountant or advisor to ensure you can consider the relative tax-based merits of different offers.
Q.4 What information will prospective buyers want about the business?
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential purchaser: what would you want to know before making a decision about such an important purchase?
The following is some of the information you need to include in a professional Business Profile or Information Memorandum on your business:
- Business overview
- Financial summary
- Industry sector dynamics
- Point of difference and competitive advantage
- Products and services
- Customers and suppliers.
(Our free Selling a Business Checklist contains the full list and you can use it to help you gather and prepare the information.)
Make sure you prepare this information before you begin the marketing process: don’t tease up interest and then disappoint potential purchasers because you can’t meet their basic information requests.
Q.5 Can I sell the business on my own, or do I need help?
The answers to questions 2 and 3 indicate we believe you need professional support in terms of a business valuation and taxation advice.
It’s also important to engage a solicitor with experience in the sale of commercial businesses, not just residential or commercial properties.
As for engaging a dedicated business sale advisor or broker, that’s up to you and how confident you feel in your own abilities to handle the sale process.
Experience shows that an arms-length advisor assisting you with the sales process can help manage the negotiation process, protect commercial sensitivities and coordinate the due diligence process in a professional way.
Most of all, a business sale advisor should be able to provide you with a competitive market environment for bids for your business.
If you do decide to use a professional business broker or advisor, it’s important to evaluate more than one and to ensure they have the following:
- project management skills
- communication skills.
If you would like advice or support with any aspect of selling a business, please contact the team at JPAbusiness on 02 6360 0360 or 02 9893 1803 for a confidential, obligation-free discussion.
James Price has over 30 years' experience in providing strategic, commercial and financial advice to Australian and international business clients. James' blogs provide business advice for aspiring and current small to mid-sized business owners, operators and managers.