Selling a Business

Give Your Business a Five-Point Make-Over Before Listing It For Sale

Written by Celeste Heiter for Gaebler Ventures

The five most important aspects of preparing a business for sale. Ways to increase your chances of finding a viable buyer, and increasing your bottom line.

Selling your business is multi-faceted process, one that requires not only a vision of the big picture, but an eye for detail.

So before you put your company on the bidding block, a little time and effort invested in preparing it for sale will significantly increase your odds of finding a viable buyer, and will greatly enhance the potential return on your investment.

Grooming your business for sale involves more than just sweeping away the cobwebs and throwing on a coat of paint. Although eye-appeal is a crucial component, it's only one of the many details you will need to consider in preparing your business for sale. Here are the five best things you can do to enhance your chances for a successful sale.

Have a Garage Sale

While you're giving your company a cosmetic facelift, take a look around at the things that keep it running on a day-to-day basis. Ask yourself, "Is our equipment state-of-the-art? Or are we limping along on outmoded computers and shopworn machinery? Is our inventory as lean as it could be? Or is the warehouse filled with unsold goods gathering dust in the corners?" If your answers to these questions are outmoded equipment and unsold inventory, get busy and hold a liquidation sale. Sell off of the dinosaurs, and use the proceeds to update a few key pieces of equipment. And while you're at it, even something as simple and affordable as replacing and replenishing your basic office supplies, things like staplers, desk blotters, and in/out boxes, will go a long way toward enhancing your image in the eyes of a potential buyer.

Mind Your P's & Q's

Looking good is one thing, but being good is a whole other matter. Are your operations up to OSHA standards? Are you compliant with all EPA regulations? Are your licenses, insurance policies, and inspection certifications current? If not, now's the time to get your regulatory house in order.

Retool Your Business Plan

If you're running a successful business, chances are you created a viable business plan when you started. If so, now's the time to take another look at it to evaluate whether it's a model that truly reflects the way your business functions today. If not, spend a little time retooling your business plan so that it represents your company in the best and most accurate light. Remember that a thorough, concise, well-written business plan is your passport to the successful sale of your company.

Take a Look at Your Books

Once potential buyers have toured your offices and operational facilities, the next thing they'll want to see is your books. So take a look and ask yourself, "Are they efficiently organized and up-to-date? Do they accurately reflect our profits, our liabilities, our assets, and any perks that we provide for our employees?" If not, consider it money well spent to hire a professional accountant or bookkeeper who will help you whip them into shape.

Tone Your Transitional Team

There's more to selling a business than signing papers and handing over the keys to the front door. Chances are, the buyer will need a certain measure of transitional support for the smooth transfer and uninterrupted flow of operations. Therefore, the negotiation of the sale transaction should include a discussion of whether your employees will stay on in their current positions; whether the buyer will merge existing staff from another company into yours; or whether the buyer will replace your staff with newly hired employees. In the event that your staff stays on, they will need to be prepared to assist with the transition. In anticipation of this possibility, call a meeting and get everyone on your team up to speed for the changes to come.

Celeste Heiter is an entrepreneur and professional writer. She has owned several businesses, is a graphic designer and an expert on Japan and its culture. Today Celeste devotes her time to writing about a variety of business topics.

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