What to know before you sell your business

p 1 5 things i wish i knew before selling my business

The profitable sale of a business might be rewarding and finally, life-changing. The method, nevertheless, will not be easy and requires a deep understanding of your private {and professional} objectives.

Like many entrepreneurs, your business may be your id and you may need a powerful sense of self that’s intently connected to your firm, its individuals, and its product. With that in thoughts, you may think how the method of promoting your business can oftentimes really feel very private and emotional, which makes the choice much more tough.

I personally didn’t have a strong plan to sell my business, and lots of entrepreneurs can possible relate. As alternatives have been coming in, the preliminary pleasure was coupled with a way of panic. Navigating this course of was fully out of my wheelhouse and never one thing I had deliberate.


There are actually a couple of key issues I want I had identified before promoting my business. That’s hindsight for you, isn’t it?

Hiring a guide

Before you begin having conversations with potential consumers, discover a banker or a guide that has a protracted historical past of doing transactions in your trade. The issues of this course of require an knowledgeable, particularly if this course of is new to you.

I particularly went with a guide who had offered quite a few companies. They helped develop our overview deck, current our financials, and ask the hard-hitting questions throughout discovery calls. In addition they helped analysis the consumers, from their monetary snapshot to earlier transactions.

I used to be additionally given a have a look at the various methods you can arrange a sale, from promoting your possession fully to partial transactions. Remember that you will both have to pay this particular person hourly or a proportion of your sale. Most M&A bankers anticipate round 3%.

Valuing your business

Valuing your firm comes with a reasonably customary trade method. This was information to me. Typically you will see a a number of of your income, however mine is taken into account a “service,” so we have been a wholly completely different method. The worth of the corporate was based mostly on our EBITDA, which stands for Earnings Before Curiosity, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. This quantity allowed the potential consumers to not solely see our income however our operational effectivity.

Sure, they have been considering how a lot cash we made as an organization, however extra importantly, they wished to see how we operated and spent cash. Any accounting skilled can discover this quantity for you, however you want to guarantee your books are effectively up to date or the method will probably be an absolute headache. Fortunately, we had been utilizing Quickbooks On-line for years, and our income and spend have been appropriately documented.  With that quantity calculated, the potential consumers supplied a suggestion which was a 4 to 5 occasions a number of of EBITDA as the acquisition worth. It was a lot smaller than I had anticipated.


Trying again, if promoting my firm was the highest precedence, I’d have centered on margins and working lean. Your EBITDA will thank you.

Calculating the prices of promoting

Your valuation may appear promising, but it surely’s integral that you contemplate the prices of promoting. Not solely are their charges related to consultants, bankers, and attorneys, however there are hefty tax implications. Even with gross sales together with shares on high of money. Relying on the place you stay, you want to be conscious that a big proportion of that sale worth is not going to be getting in your pocket. With that in thoughts, you really want to decide the quantity that may make it price it to you to hand over possession in an organization you constructed from the bottom up with blood, sweat, and most actually, tears (I know I had loads).

Discovering a specialised lawyer

As soon as you’ve agreed to high-level phrases of the sale, you will probably be introduced with a 100+ web page buy settlement and relying on how your sale is structured, an employment settlement. I can’t emphasize sufficient the significance of hiring an lawyer who makes a speciality of mergers and acquisitions. From itemizing tons of of disclosures to exclusivities inside your employment settlement, there are many clauses solely a really skilled lawyer would find a way to perceive. Don’t overlook the fee right here. An lawyer on this area can price upwards of $1,000 per hour for one of these contract negotiation. Your invoice will possible be in 5 – 6 figures or extra.

Being ready for change

After a sale is accomplished and paperwork signed and sealed, the actual work begins.

Have a plan for sharing the information with your group. In my case, promoting to a publicly-traded firm meant I solely had a finite window of time by which I might share the information. I created a presentation of what this sale meant to the group and the way, from an operational standpoint, issues have been going to change.

Your workers will possible be afraid of this information, regardless of which approach you clarify it. Most workers suppose that an acquisition means overhead cuts. In some instances, which may be true. Ensure that is a part of the dialogue you are having with potential consumers. I made it clear that I wished to retain my group and our autonomy, together with the usage of our firm identify.

Notice that issues will change. You not “personal” the corporate, relying on your construction, you’re an worker. You gained’t find a way to make the choices you as soon as might. Usually, you may even have to mix forces and onboard new HR, accounting, and operational infrastructure. This may take time and won’t occur in a single day. Belief the method and preserve open communication and dialogue with your group. It’s additionally protected to say some group members gained’t be pleased with the modifications, be ready for that.

I’m thrilled with the acquisition of my firm. It was the appropriate choice for me. Do be aware, I went backwards and forwards on the choice for weeks with many sleepless nights asking myself if this was the appropriate selection. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, having the assist of different executives and assets seems like a big weight off your shoulders. Don’t take the choice frivolously. Weigh the professionals and cons and be ready for the inevitable.

Ali Grant is the founder of Be Social which was not too long ago acquired by Dolphin Leisure.