Good timing is key to much in the selling process. We suggest that you begin the process with a plan and that you resist every impulse to READY, FIRE, AIM. Just as selling the business may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, selling may also represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are not timely, prepared and strategic with this one last opportunity from this business you’ve built, you probably won’t take all you should from the sale, or worse, you may take nothing from it at all.
We have found, with unfortunate frequency, business owners have missed their optimum chance, forever, simply because they had waited until time had eroded the energy and enthusiasm they once had and that had once built the business, or until age, poor health and other issues had left no options. Then, upon realization that they needed to do something, many owners had cost themselves thousands of dollars, (many thousands in some cases), by stepping out into a hopeful; maybe wistful, unstructured selling process without preparation and without any real plan.
Unless there is a family member(s) ready, willing and able to take over the business, there should come a day in the life of the owner of every good and profitable business, where the time will be right to sell. And hopefully in your case, optimum has not yet passed, but even if so, there should still be a next best time. In either case, as that time approaches, we suggest that you begin your assessment of it silently and discreetly.
We recommend that you DO NOT begin the process by floating trial balloons amongst suppliers, customers and/or competitors within your industry, or amongst employees, or indeed with anyone except your trusted advisors who will be equally discreet. Bad things can and do happen when the wrong people know, or think they know, a business is for sale. We recommend that you keep your thoughts and plans with regard, close to the vest and your discussions close amongst yourself and those trusted advisors only.
And, the first question in that assessment should be “is now the right time ? ”
Take a good look at your Company. Take a fresh look if possible. Maybe let a trusted advisor help you take a new look. If you don’t have an appropriate advisor, maybe we can help. If you were to create a graphic of your Company, what would it look like? Is the graph growing? Is it declining? Is it flat? Is it all over the place? Why? If possible, best timing would be to sell your business while it is on the rise, with more to come. Have you considered your tax strategy? … So again, is now the right time?
Optimization of the opportunity might mean making some hard business decisions and maybe making some corrections before offering the Company up for sale. But, before you might come to that conclusion, ask yourself as well, seriously, “are you the one to affect those necessary corrections?”
If your business has begun to decline, what is the reason? Is it a general market condition or is it a condition of your business? Is there a correction you can actually make? And if so, ask yourself why haven’t you done so already?
Selling the company for its full market value requires good timing and a detailed selling strategy complete with selling price, terms of payment and justification for both. It requires the business to be prepared for sale. A detailed selling package should be developed, completed and ready for presentation before anyone reads an ad or hears the company even might be for sale, and then any such disclosure should be provided on a need-to-know basis and under strict terms of confidentiality.
Again, just as this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you, it may also represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are not timely, prepared and strategic with this one last opportunity from this business you’ve built, you probably won’t take as much from it as you could.