Looking to exit from your business in the next two to five years?
We can help you achieve the best outcome.

Looking to exit from your business in the next two to five years?
We can help you achieve the best outcome.

News

Are you ready to sell? Part 1.

There are two aspects to being ready to sell your business: are you ready, and is the business ready? In this two-part series, we’ll delve into both aspects, starting with the readiness of your business itself. 

Whether you’re selling a portion of your business or the entire operation, potential buyers will conduct due diligence (DD) before finalising any deal. What they uncover during this process can significantly impact the negotiation’s outcome. As an owner, you likely know many of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Still, there may be long-held assumptions or blind spots that due diligence could expose unfavourably. It’s crucial to address issues and present your business in the best possible light. This might involve fundamental improvements or minor adjustments. The goal is to eliminate any opportunity for a buyer to gain leverage during negotiations. 

When an opportunity to sell arises, either when you take the business to market or if you receive an unsolicited approach, presenting the business professionally and cleanly enhances your negotiating position by helping you navigate the due diligence process. 

Some of the areas where you might focus include: 

  • Key agreements: having key relationships secured under contract provides a buyer with certainty. Whilst most buyers may be keen to avoid the risk of key suppliers or customers moving away, others may want the flexibility to introduce their own preferred partners or to introduce different terms for customers. On balance, it’s preferable to present stability and continuity.
  • Intellectual Property: securing your IP, for example, trademarks, design rights and patents, will allow you to protect your business from others seeking to use these assets, but also ensure you are not infringing on other people’s rights (third party rights). Risk is an uncertainty that a buyer will factor into an offer.
  • Employees: retention of key staff (particularly in small and medium enterprises) is likely to feature early in the sales discussions. Do you have up-to-date employment contracts? What benefits and employment policies are in place? Are there any outstanding employment issues – pending tribunals for example? Are key team members incentivised to stay through retention packages, long-term bonuses, share options etc?
  • Premises and licences: a review of your asset portfolio is important to understand current value, lease expiry dates, restrictions on use etc. Whether a buyer needs the security of using your current premises or will look to exit, knowing what you own and ensuring that the buyer is presented with all this information from the outset is key to enabling them to assess your business. Any licenses or permits that are essential to your business should be up to date and made available to a buyer to review.
  • Data and documentation: as part of the sale process, you will be asked to present key information about the business. Your advisers will help you pull this together but having a well-organised document management system and having key documentation accessible and kept up to date will make this a simpler and less costly process.

 

The decision to sell your business can be difficult, especially if you have invested a lot of time, money and effort into building it. Negotiating the sale will often be demanding and challenging. However, you can make this easier on yourself by being prepared.

Here are some signs that indicate your business may be ready to be sold: 

  • A clear and realistic valuation of your business based on its financial performance, assets, liabilities, market position and growth potential.
  • A well-prepared exit strategy that outlines your goals, expectations and timeline for the sale process.
  • Your business has optimised its operations – with documented policies and procedures, is trading profitability and has good, positive cash flow.
  • You have resolved any legal or tax issues.
  • You have a compelling story of the businesses future potential in the hands of the right buyer.
  • You have identified and qualified potential buyers who are interested in your business and can afford to pay a fair price.
  • You have hired professional advisers who can help you market your business, negotiate the best deal, and handle the legal and financial aspects of the sale.

No business is without challenges, but managing issues transparently demonstrates readiness for sale. If you can view your business through a buyer’s eyes you can identify areas for improvement. 

If you’re considering an exit or have questions about readiness, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help you navigate the process smoothly. 

Our next article will cover your readiness for an exit. 

(Image sourced from Canva)

w

Testimonials

Ian’s ongoing input has made sure that plans have not only been laid, but implemented, completed and analysed. Ian is an invaluable asset to our business.

Alistair Henderson
Managing Director, Tuplin

Downloads

We’ve written a number of guides on selected business subjects that will set you and your business in good stead for whatever future you may choose.

These are free for you to download and to make use of in your business, so please help yourself.