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7 Steps to Sell your Business
Before attempting to sell your business, you should prepare by making it a turnkey business that can be transitioned to a new owner easily. You’ll need to make it look as attractive as possible to a potential buyer by cleaning up your books, paying off debt, and fixing any potential weaknesses.
As business broker and M&A Adivsors we will be your best option to help you navigate the entire sales process.
It’s important to value a business because it’s a good starting point for your expectations and potential negotiations with a buyer.
If you want to estimate your business value on your own, you can calculate it by following these steps:
- Multiply your discretionary earnings (SDE) by your industry multiplier
- Add any other assets the business owns, like real estate or cash on hand
- Subtract your liabilities
While the flow of information will be constant throughout the sales process, there are three distinct times you’ll need to provide the buyer with documentation: initial interest, due diligence, and after an offer has been made. You’ll need to have different documentation prepared at each of these three phases of the sale process.
1. Initial Documentation for Potential Buyers
- Tax returns for the last three years
- YTD profit & loss (P&L) statement
- YTD balance sheet
- YTD cash flow statement
- Summary book that markets your business’s best features
2. During Due Diligence
- Proof of business ownership
- Business licenses
- Payroll summaries for one year
- Outstanding accounts payable
- Outstanding accounts receivable
- Current loan documentation
- Lease contracts
- Sales contracts
- Details of all chargebacks or “owner’s salary” in your financials
- 3 Years of P&L statements
- 3 Years of cash flow statements
- 3 Years of balance sheets
- Marketing materials
- List of key competitors
- Schedule of owner’s capitalization
- Inventory summary
3. After an Offer Has Been Made
- AR aging report
- Annual personal property tax certificate
- Full bank statements
- Any outstanding key contracts
- Detailed inventory list
- Financial operating budgets
- Financial projections for 3 to 5 years
- Team operations manual
- Organizational chart
- Customer list
- Actual inventory
- Supplier or vendor lists
- Supplier or vendor contracts
- Employment agreements for management or key employees
If you’re not ready to provide these documents, then you’ll end up slowing down your own sales process and might lose an otherwise interested buyer.
There are many different ways you can find a buyer for your business, from hiring a broker to posting your business on a popular website to marketing to friends and family. Each source has its own unique strengths, but the best solution is to combine as many different ways to find a buyer as possible.
Your purchase agreement is the most important document you’ll negotiate during the sales process. It will have all of the most important characteristics of your deal, including price and any seller financing terms offered. The agreement will also contain many individual deal points that you may not be aware of or have experience with. Each of these points has to be negotiated before you can close on the business.
Legal counsel can make a huge difference when negotiating your purchase agreement. While you should be able to negotiate high-level deal points such as price, a lawyer can protect your personal interests by negotiating and drafting language you may not think of. Business brokers may also be able to help with this, but they aren’t legally trained, and you may want a lawyer to verify that your interests are fully protected.