Confidential Presentation

Confidential Business Profiles: A confidential and effective way to present a business-for-sale to a prospective buyer is through a progressive series of presentation packages; a ‘confidential business profile’.  Such profiles should not identify the business but should provide sufficient information to unfold the business to the buyer, progressively, in return for buyer’s release of buyer’s own qualifying information, both which will serve to quantify the level of interest of both buyer and seller, to the satisfaction, or not, of both buyer and seller, before either are identified to the other, if possible;  …. and it is.

Business-for-Sale Ad Profile: Buyers want to learn what they need to know about a business as quickly as possible. When it takes “too long” to see real evidence of value, most buyers will simply move on.  And, “too long” is subjective according to buyer, so we suggest that you capture the attention of the buyer “first crack.”  Make your ad the first of the Confidential Business Profiles.  We recommend the ad be meaningful, complete with price and terms of payment, description of the business in terms of business type or commercial sector and that it provide a quick financial summary of the business in terms of sales and earnings, but that it NOT identify the business in any manner.

Introductory Profile: The second profile should be an introductory profile that again (in our opinion) should not identify the business by any means but which should again provide the price and terms of payment, describe the business by type or commercial sector and should provide a quick financial summary of the business in terms of sales and earnings over the past several years.

The introductory profile may not provide much more (if any) than the ad profile, except it should include a confidentiality agreement to be signed and submitted by the buyer first, before providing any additional information.

Financial Profile: The third profile should be a financial profile that again (in our opinion) should not identify the business by any means but should expand the financial detail. It should describe and justify the valuation or basis on which pricing has been calculated or presented, and it may also expand on the business description, continuing with care not to identify the business itself.

The financial profile should include enough information for a buyer to reasonably gauge a continuing level of interest and we recommend that to obtain additional information, the buyer be asked to provide disclosure as well, that would serve to indicate the buyer’s ability to purchase the business should further disclosures and investigation lead to such.

Business Profile: The fourth should be the full business profile, but which still (in our opinion) should not identify the business.  A buyer wants to know what the business owns, …what the business earns, …what the business does, …what types of products, …what types customers and how customers pay, and …what types of suppliers and how the company pays. That information can be provided in detail without identifying the business, and again, that is what we recommend.

Eventually of course, if and when and as both parties agree that a good business fit does seem to exist, then business identity, introduction and other disclosures will be necessary to the progression and completion of a sale.

In the meantime, business owners represented by third party agents, such as a business broker, or a realtor, or a lawyer, or an accountant, or others perhaps, can, through such agency, maintain a buffer between buyer and seller that will allow parties to maintain confidentiality and withhold identity until a reasonable fit can be gauged.

On the other hand, businesses for-sale-by-owner will often have no such buffer. Even when the ad is non-identified and if all the profiles are non-identified, it will be difficult for the owner-seller to maintain anonymity past the first contact; past the Confidentiality Agreement in fact, unless some form of buffer is inserted. We think it’s a good idea to do so and offer the following suggestions.

Our first suggestion is that you subscribe to Business-Trader Online Intermediation services, (click here to review the program), otherwise;

  • enroll your CPA perhaps, to act as your intermediator, or:
  • engage the representative services of a business broker or some other third party agent, or:
  • at minimum, obtain a non-identifying email address, such as a g-mail account, and make that the sole point of contact and then, take care to retain anonymity as long as possible.

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