7 tips if you are thinking of selling your business

When you’re considering selling your small business, selecting the correct agent could be an important step towards a successful outcome, says Ceri Edwards.

12th October 2009 at 10:00 am

1. Discuss it with all your partners and/or co directors. Iron out any issues before you put it to the market.

2. Be clear about your timescales. Why are you selling?  If it is down to ill health or perhaps a financial decision you may want to sell at the earliest opportunity, however if it is pending retirement or a change of direction you may be prepared to wait for the very best offer. Your timescale will have a bearing on the next issue, which is . . . . .

3. Be realistic about your expectations on price. Everyone wants as much as possible – normally for as little as possible. A good agent will try to get the best out of the market, but please try to put yourself in the buyers shoes. Ask yourself if you would pay what you are asking for your business.

4. Gather together all the relevant information that a buyer will ask for. Your agent can help you here. Get copies of the last three years accounts, details of fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery etc. A copy of your lease if applicable. Your agent will not release any information without discussing the matter with you. If you want a confidential sale be sure to tell your agent.

5. Do your research and appoint a proactive agent. Remember you get nothing for nothing. Your agent should demonstrate the following qualities.

A) Regular, national press advertising in quality media accepted as the reference points for those looking for businesses to buy. such media should currently include Dalton’s Weekly for instance.

B) The agent should have a high profile website, which is user friendly. Some of the best allow the user to download business details. Some others contain videos of businesses for sale.

C). How long has your agent been operating? A business that has been in business many years will always prove to  be successful in their chosen trade.

D). Is your agent a franchise or are you dealing with a large, well structured business. A franchised business agent can appear to be a large operation, however you could find that the person who visits you to put your business on the market is the same person who writes your deatils up and prepares your property description, he is also the same person who does your marketing, answers the phone, arranges and follows up viewings, negotiates the offers and completes the initial convceyancing. A lot of work for one or two people operating from thier front room ! Also, this same person may well have been a truck driver or a warehouseman the week before.

It is nearly always better to trust your largest asset to a business that has a history of selling businesses and has a good structure.

6. Contact your agent regularly for progress reports and updates.  Dont forget  that your agent is not a clairvoyant. Inform them of any significant changes and review your marketing regularly.

7. Lastly, remember that selling a business is in fact a partnership between you and your agent. Respond to all requests for information or viewings quickly and efficiently.

Selling your business is probably the biggest financial consideration you will make in your lifetime   –    use an agent who understands your needs and is able to provide you with the tailor made service that you require.

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Ceri Edwards is Business Development Director at RTA (Business Consultants) Ltd. Established in 1972 RTA have grown to become not just one of the most successful privately owned Business Agency in the U.K. but throughout Europe and our continued expansion programme is now taking us even further afield. http://www.rtaonline.co.uk

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