1. Focus on running your business! Many business owners sell because they are burnt out. Therefore many essentially stop working and wait for a buyer to come along. This can really hurt your chances of selling your business. Remember, the selling process can take 6-18 months. Keep doing what made your business great.
2. Keep advertising. When selling, many business owners cut their expenses. You want to try to maximize profits during this time but advertising is not an area to cut back on. Buyers do not like to see that you eliminated all advertising when you listed the business – it casts doubt on whether or not the sales will remain at their current levels.
3. Keep your inventory stocked. Many business owners whittle their inventory down to nothing. Generally, inventory is negotiated and sold, in addition to the business. There will be time, after the business is sold, to agree on a price for your inventory and, if necessary, sell it down. You need to keep the business operating normally.
4. Focus on sales. The best time to sell is when you are having your best year ever.
5. Keep an open mind about who, how and why someone will buy your business. Buyers buy businesses for a variety of reasons. Try to keep an open mind about the deal structure. Often times being creative can make deals happen.
6. Deal with any problems. Employee, customer and vendor disputes should be dealt with before a buyer is in the picture. You do not want a viable buyer to back out because of a unresolved problem that reared it’ s head during the due diligence period.
7. Pay your taxes. This applies even if you have an extension. Buyers need financing. Lenders, many times, will need to see the last year’s tax returns before they can lend. You cannot sell your business until the buyer gets financing.
8. Pay your bills. You want your vendors happy so they want to do business with the new owner.
9. Educate yourself. I have devoted a good deal of time to my website. Use this resource and others to learn about the process of selling a business.
10. Work with a professional business intermediary. Selling a business is different then selling real estate or investments or the practice of law. Selling businesses is our business. It is a full time job and can be challenging. You and your business deserves a professional who has taken the time to learn this profession and the experience of past transactions.