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Selling: The Decision-Making Process

The exit process, selling your business, is one of the most important, emotional and difficult events that will be undertaken by an owner. You only get one chance to do it right - and failure to get the best deal is not an option.

Keep in Mind

Your business represents long years of hard work and continuous care. For many owners it represents the largest asset they own. The decision to sell that business often does not come easily…and should never be taken lightly. Analyze your reasons and be honest with yourself (or yourselves) as to whether you really want to sell. Also, consider whether you want to sell the entire business or just a part, for example your OCS or vending component or a branch operation.

Common Selling Considerations

There are many reasons why owners decide to sell, which include:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Tired, burnt-out or stressed
  • Time to cash out, "take the chips off the table"
  • Heirs not interested
  • Personal problems
  • "Forced sale"
  • Partner disputes
  • Competition
  • Other interests...another business, vacations, hobbies...

After You've Decided

Typical owners have little experience in selling a business and in negotiating with an experienced buyer. It is a complex process that needs much preparation, and you need to establish an organized, competent effort that will yield the best net result to you. Engaging professional help will ensure that you complete the task successfully with less stress.

Getting Ready

There are a number of important issues involved with selling a business that need to be considered:

  • Time Commitment. It takes a substantial amount of time to comply with the requests of the potential buyer and to gather all the documents and information required. This can take valuable time away from the actual running of the business. Be prepared...it has to be done.

  • Partner Issues. You may have other stockholders or family members who have ownership in the business. The managing owner has to deal with these partners, first in getting an agreement to sell, then in getting their agreement about the price and terms. Partners have to be dealt with and not overlooked or pushed to the end of the deal. If this happens, it may be the end of the deal, quite literally.

  • No Surprises. It's a good idea to look at your business from the perspective of a prospective buyer. As you know, no one likes surprises. Hidden liabilities, conflicting data, vague information or anything that raises "red flags" can cause a buyer to reduce an offer or even withdraw from the process. Be prepared to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly. Think like a buyer.

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