Need to Sell Your Business Quickly? Follow These Steps.

There are plenty of valid reasons to sell your business, from retirement to a sudden loss of revenue. In an ideal scenario, you plan ahead, sell your business when it’s thriving, and choose a time when the market is flush with buyers. But what if you need to get out as quickly as possible? You can still turn a profit if you follow these steps.

  1. Understand strategic buyers. These are buyers who are invested in your business for the value it offers, not necessarily its clear bottom line. They might be in it to access your IP, your clients, your suppliers, or your unique products. Identify them early on and you can sell your business for more than you ever would with a financial buyer.
  2. Address legal issues. Buyers are risk-averse. They don’t want to take on a business with tons of pending lawsuits or compliance issues. Clean up these messes early, and do whatever you can to prevent them from getting worse.
  3. Prioritize profitability over debt. Most valuation metrics look at a multiple of profit, not debt, so you need to boost sales to boost sale price. Be careful, though. The right buyer will use the due diligence process to review recent history. So the sooner you can boost earnings, and the longer you can sustain this boost, the better.
  4. Protect the most important employees. Your staff have institutional knowledge that adds real value to your operation. Keep them on board by paying them fairly, and ensure their roles are protected in the new entity.
  5. Step away from it all. You need to get out of the office and get to know your customers. Moreover, withdrawing a bit from your business can actually generate value, because a company that is too dependent on its owner is one that tends to lose value after a sale.
  6. Reduce costs. The goal isn’t to blindly slash costs everywhere. Instead, focus on driving value where you can, and trimming the fat everywhere else.
  7. Talk to an expert. A business broker or investment banker can identify strategies for increasing value and finding the right strategic value. But don’t wait till the last minute. The right advisor can give you a roadmap for steadily increasing value over time, so the earlier you seek expert help, the better.
  8. Play hard to get. A competitive, auction-style buying process increases value. Buyers don’t want desperate companies; they want the companies everyone else wants. So work with multiple buyers, and never accept an unsolicited offer without first reviewing your other options.
  9. Keep it quiet. You need to keep your business healthy as you move through the early sale process. That means not losing key employees or scaring your buyers. Keep your sale private  until it’s time to inform others. And when you do unveil the sale, make sure you have a communication strategy in place so that you control the narrative. The rumor mill will do you no favors, so get ahead of it early.