Key Steps to a Successful Sale
• Prepare your company for sale. If it is necessary to freshen up the physical appearance of the company, do so. Books and records should be reviewed by an accountant and difficult issues such as inventory obsolescence should be resolved. And any outstanding legal issues would be best resolved prior to putting the company up for sale. If there are any employee or management issues, such as whether a key employee will stay post-sale, resolve them.
• Purchase an Opinion of Value. A well-prepared Opinion of Value will help to set a reasonable asking price for the business, determine whether it is in fact the right time to sell, assist in identifying bank financing for buyers so that the need for seller financing is minimized and will help seller attorneys and accountants in tax planning.
• Hire a competent, experienced intermediary. There are many reasons to do so but the key ones are that (a) he or she can help set a reasonable asking price, (b) will be able to deal with dozens of buyers while maintaining confidentiality and will be able to narrow the field down to legitimate buyers, (c) will be able to negotiate dispassionately in your behalf, very difficult when things get sticky (d) understands due diligence and how to manage it successfully and (e) has the experience to develop and review legal documents to facilitate closing of the transaction.
• Be upfront with problems and issues. If they are revealed late in the process they can be deal breakers.
• Go with the buyer who you like and trust. There are a multiplicity of reasons including financing and transition of the business which mitigate against simply taking the highest offer. And keep in mind that the structure of the deal is as important as the total price.
• Continue to operate the business as though it will not sell throughout the sales process. A fall off in business will kill a deal or result in a having to take a lower selling price.
• Keep the sale confidential. Do not share your plans with your employees.