Is it time to sell?
Selling your business is a major decision!
You have devoted your time, money, and energy into building, running, and operating your business. It may well represent your life’s work. If you have already decided that now is the right time to sell, you want the very best professional guidance you can get.
This is when working in tandem with a professional M & A Advisor can make the difference between just getting rid of the business and making an informed sale designed to help reach your exit goals.
Following are some of the most common topics and questions frequently brought up by sellers.
If you have any questions that we have not covered, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
For Business Sellers
If you’ve gone this far, then selling your business has aroused enough curiosity that you are taking the first step.
You don’t have to make a commitment at this point; you are just getting informed about what is necessary to successfully sell your business. This section should answer a lot of your questions and help you through the maze of the process itself.
The first question almost every seller asks is: “What is my business worth?” Quite frankly, if we were selling our business, that is the first thing we would want to know. However, we’re going to put this very important issue off for a bit and cover some of the things you need to know before you get to that point. Before you ask that question, you have to be ready to sell for what the market is willing to pay. If money is the only reason you want to sell, then you’re not really ready to sell.
It doesn’t make any difference what you think your business is worth, or what you want for it. It also doesn’t make any difference what your accountant, banker, attorney, or best friend thinks your business is worth. Only the marketplace can decide what the value of your business is.
The second question you have to consider is: “Do you really want to sell this business?” If you’re really serious and have a solid reason (or reasons) why you want to sell, it will most likely happen.
You can increase your chances of selling if you can answer yes to the second part of this question: “Do you have reasonable expectations?” A yes answer to these two questions means you are serious about selling.
The First Steps
Okay, let’s assume that you have decided to at least take the first few steps to actually selling your business.
Before you even think about placing your business for sale, there are some things you should do first. The first thing you have to do is to gather information about the business.
Here’s a checklist of the items you should get together:
- Three years’ profit and loss statements
- Federal Income Tax returns for the business
- List of fixtures and equipment
- The lease and lease-related documents
- A list of the loans against the business (amounts and payment schedule)
- Copies of any equipment leases
- A copy of the franchise agreement, if applicable
- An approximate amount of the inventory on hand, if applicable
- The names of any outside advisors
If you’re half way through the current year, make sure you have last year’s figures and tax returns, and also year-to-date figures. Make all of your financial statements presentable. It will pay in the long run to get outside professional help, if necessary, to put the statements in order.
You want to present the business well “on paper.” As you will see later, pricing a business usually is based on cash flow. This includes the profit of the business, as well as the owner’s salary and benefits, the depreciation, and other non-cash items. So don’t panic because the bottom line isn’t what you think it should be.
By the time all of the appropriate figures are added to the bottom line, the cash flow may look pretty good.
If you’re like many business owners, you’ll have to search for some of these items. After you gather all of the above items, you should spend some time updating the information and filling in the blanks. You most likely have forgotten much of this information, so it’s a good idea to really take a hard look at all of this. Have all of the above put in a neat, orderly format as if you were going to present it to a prospective purchaser. Everything starts with this information.
The big question is not really how much your business will sell for, but how much of it can you keep? The Federal Tax Laws determine how much money you will actually be able to put in the bank. How your business is legally formed can be important in determining your tax status when selling your business.
For example: Is your business a corporation, partnership or proprietorship? If you are incorporated, is the business a C corporation or a sub-chapter S corporation? There are also tax rules that impact certain businesses on seller financing. The point of all of this is that before you consider price or even selling your business, it is important that you discuss the tax implications of a sale of your business with a tax advisor. You don’t want to be in the middle of a transaction with a solid buyer and discover that the tax implications of the sale are going to net you much less than you had figured.
Do you have other questions?
Be sure to visit Selling FAQ for answers to the following questions.
- How long does it take to sell my business?
- What can M & A Advisors do – and, what can’t they do?
- What can I do to help sell my business?
- What happens when there is a buyer for my business?
- Why is seller financing so important to the sale of my business?