How to sell your business – FAST!

A typical business sale will normally take between six and 12 months, and in some exceptional circumstances, years. After all, selling a business is not akin to setting up a car-boot sale and auctioning off your lesser-wanted items for a minimal price. A business amasses years of hard work, time and investment – often considered the precious brainchild of a seller – that requires careful consideration and thorough legal and financial checks before it can be sold onto the next owner.

Naturally, such processes are quite time-consuming. But if you are a private seller looking to sell his business in a matter of months, things will have to be different. The reasons for wanting to make a quick exit may vary; retirement, changed personal or financial circumstances, issues pertaining to health, or simply wanting to explore a new venture may be the case for needing a fast sale, and the methods of achieving results may also be different from seller to seller.

Below, we take a look at what is required from sellers to help you sell your business – fast!

Get the paperwork ready

A fast sale would be impossible to achieve unless all your company’s affairs are in order. A preparatory element regardless of how the fast sale proceeds, your company’s paperwork ought to be filed and ready for assessment as soon as possible.

Business valuation is an important aspect of the sales process, and it is vital that you present your company in the best, and also most accurate, light to only attract the most serious buyers in the market. There are various methods of business valuations, including price to earnings valuation, asset-based valuations, and entry cost valuations. In all cases, demonstrate that the business has the capacity to grow and expand over the years, as well as steady annual earnings to indicate immediate stability and profitability should it be taken over.

From a legal perspective, a seller will be required to fill out a due diligence question. While this may only come if a potential buyer chooses to take the next steps in the negotiations, you can in the meantime ensure that all documents and statements are up-to-date and available for review. In addition to this, draw up confidentiality agreements and Heads of Terms documents well in advance to have the paperwork ready to go should a buyer express interest.

Financial statements, balance sheets, inventory, licenses and registrations, and tax returns are but some of the many other documents a buyer will want to see before proceeding with the sales process. Having them ready and orderly will only ensure that time is saved later, taking you one step closer to achieving a fast sale.

Contact buyers yourself

As an established business person, your network is likely to be abundant with contacts and industry specialists, some of whom could be potential buyers. If you are looking to achieve a fast sale, you, as the seller, are advised to be proactive and get in touch with individuals who may show an interest in acquiring your company and would be willing to take it over in a short time span. This method could save you a great deal of time, and can even save you the money that would have been spent on advertising.

Be warned, however, that reaching out to those within the industry could spark interest from competitors who have no real intention of purchasing at all. Such inside knowledge may prompt them to see if they can capitalise on the sale in some way or the other. To prevent this from happening, ensure that confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are signed by all potential buyers you do engage with. This will allow your sale to remain a secret for as long as you would like it to be.

Instate a business partner

A quick exit does not necessarily have to mean a fast sale – in some cases, perhaps adding a partner is the way forward. A partner can manage and take on the day-to-day duties of the business whilst you focus your attention elsewhere – this is particularly advantageous if you do not think achieving a fast sale is possible at the time, or if you feel as though you have to undersell in order to achieve a sale.

A business partner with a complementary skill set may even help your business boost its growth potential, especially if it is already performing well. However, it is vital that you and your partner establish roles, obligations and boundaries clearly before taking a step back, so future conflicts can be avoided.

Achieve a close sale

In the event that you are forced to make a fast, and potentially unwanted, sale, selling to someone close to you can be the best solution for your business. Be it an employee, friend, family member or even a prominent figure in the industry with whom you have interacted with on multiple occasions, people who are close to you will already have an emotional investment in your company, making them the perfect replacement for you.

If an employee is to become your successor, consider creating an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) – this process will allow room for tax benefits and flexibility with regards to your future involvement with the company.

Sweeten the deal

A fast sale can be made faster if new potential owners of your business are presented with incentives. These can come in the form of lower asking prices, seller financing and training deals, all of which could provide buyers with additional assets as part of the deal as a whole.

No doubt, the more attractive the business looks holistically, and in terms of what is on offer, the more likely you are to receive offers of purchase from various individuals. Naturally, to invite interest from more qualified and serious buyers, the more ‘alluring’ your business must appear in a fast sale scenario.

Asset liquidation

Certainly not the most attractive option, but liquidating your assets is one way to achieving a fast sale. If the business is no longer profitable and you are unable to find a new owner in the short-term, then turning existing merchandise into cash may be the most efficient way to get any final returns from your company. While it is unlikely that you will receive any funds for intangible assets like reputation, brand recognition and relationships with customers and clients, physical equipment can be changed hands to new owners relatively seamlessly. This method may be a last resort, but it is a viable method through which to succeed in making a quick exit.

More often than not, a fast sale is a last-minute decision that needs to be addressed and dealt with quickly. It is impossible to plan ahead for changes in personal circumstances, but with your company, it is possible to put in place measures and explore options well in advance, so your company is equipped to make a swift exit when and if needed.

Should you wish to list your business for a fast sale, click on the link here and add the tag "(FAST SALE)" to the end of the title to make it available to thousands of potential buyers on the Business Sale Report website.

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