Sometimes your role as owner of a small business runs its course. Maybe you’ve found a new opportunity to move on to, perhaps you’re tired of being self-employed and want a more stable income, or you’re simply ready to retire having gathered a nice nest egg from your company. Whatever the reason, you might be in a position where you want to sell your business as soon as possible.
There’s no reason this process has to take a particularly long time if you’re sure you want to sell. The market is currently very active, with a record 10,312 small businesses changing hands in the US in 2018, so it’s a good time to make a change. So, how do you sell your company quickly without making any mistakes? Here’s how:
1. Get everything in order
Make sure every part of your business is ready to be sold. Ideally, you’ll have planned ahead and made sure everything is in order before now, and many experienced entrepreneurs recommend keeping updated records, a detailed business history and your sales portfolio at-the-ready so you can sell at any time.
However, sometimes the decision to sell can come out of nowhere, and you might not be ready to do so. In this case, your best option is to seek a professional. At the minimum, you’ll want an accountant to make sure your books are all in order. Hiring professionals might cost you in the short-term, but in the long run they’ll make sure your business sells for a good amount.
2. Decide on a fair price for your business
It’s hard to judge how much a company is worth. The average amount a small business goes for (as of Q3 2019) is around $250,000, with the average asking price standing at $278,000. Of course, there are so many variables that can change the value of an organization, from its liquid assets to the volatility of the industry where it operates.
The key thing to bear in mind when setting a price is not to get too attached to your business and keep emotions out of the decision. It can be easy to overvalue the company you built from the ground up, but a high asking price will put buyers off. As Gary Turner - co-founder of Xero - says:
Buyers are rarely sentimental, so it’s important that the business owner is pragmatic and tries to remove emotion.
3. Market yourself to potential buyers
One issue many business owners have is forgetting the most important part of selling a business: the marketing. Nobody is going to turn up out of the blue and buy your company; you need to sell it to them using whatever methods are available to you. Bruce Hakutizwi, US and international manager of BusinessesForSale.com, recommends using both online and offline marketing, as well as a broker if possible.
Talk to as many of your contacts as possible and let them know your plans to sell. The fact they know and trust you will be an added positive for any potential buyers they might know, which could be key to selling your company quickly.