The decision to sell a business is likely going to be fraught with uncertainty and emotion, and plenty of time taken to consider all possibilities and options. Some people just up and decide to sell their businesses, but far more likely, the decision-making process is months or even years in the making. Certainly a well planned business sell will likely provide a better result for the seller.
Once the decision has been made, however, it is not uncommon for individuals to step on the gas with full force. While there is certainly some wisdom to striking while the iron is hot, especially is a buyer approaches a seller, it is also true that a little patience throughout the process will serve you immensely well.
There are so many complex parts of getting a business ready for sale that you cannot afford to skip past any of them. Organizing entity documents, making sure financial statements are in order and possibly audited, confirming all taxes have been paid by the business, ensuring all employee matters have been taken care of, like employee withholdings and over-time pay, , standard operating procedures manuals often need to be created, customer records need to be gathered and in some cases customer relations formalized via contracts that are assignable, etc.
Once all that prep work is done, it’s time to find someone to represent your business. They will likely have some more advice for you on more preparations to undertake, or recommendations on valuations or potential buyers. Even if they come back to tell you that your business is ready to go, finding potential buyers can be a lengthy process.
Speaking of buyers, do not necessarily jump on the first offer you get. If they have a solid business history, meet all your requirements, and offer you a good amount, then by all means, continue to take steps with that person. However, remember that this is your business. If you are seeing red flags from the prospective buyer and your attorney agrees, then do not be afraid to hit the brakes.
As you can see, the process of actually selling a business is rather involved and can take quite a bit of time. Do not despair, however. Keep your eyes on the prize, keep your feet moving forward, and keep your attorney close at hand. Before you know it, the process will be over, and it will be time to collect your check and relax.