Common Business Sales Myths
The typical business owner will only sell a business once. Understanding the complex process involved will help produce the best results, but don’t fall prey to the myths that can derail or seriously affect a potential sale.
Myth #1 – I Can Sell It Myself
The market approach sets a value based on the values of other similar businesses that have been sold. Setting the market value involves researching the sale prices for similar businesses in a geographic area. In some cases, however, finding a company that is similar in many ways to your company may be difficult.
Whatever your goal, you want a good advisor to help you assess the value of your company. Question your advisor on the effects of deal structure and how multiples are used. A business owner should never accept a computer-generated valuation or a one-size-fits-all approach when selling the business. Moreover – don’t be impressed by the person who presents the highest value – you may only be setting yourself up for failure during the sale process. Many business brokers take this approach just to obtain the listing, it is wrong.
Myth #2 – I’ll Sell When I’m Ready
Certainly, an owner wants to be sure he or she is mentally and emotionally prepared to sell. But personal readiness is just one factor. Economic factors can have a significant impact on the sale of a business.
Sale prices can be affected by industry consolidation, interest rates, unemployment and many other economic measures. Talk with a professional and aim to sell when your personal goals and market conditions align.
Myth #3 – I Know What it is Worth
Some owners will base the company value on what they need for retirement. Others will tell you they want $100,000/year for “sweat equity.”
A third party valuation is a good idea for anyone seriously considering the sale of their business. An outside valuation will include a thorough analysis of the business and the market it operates in. This will provide a solid understanding of the company’s growth potential, not some vague industry average.
Myth #4 – It’s Like Selling a House
Selling a company is much more complex than selling a house. A successful business sale requires a great deal of pre-planning, at least a year and maybe as long as three years to drive sales, develop key staff, document the operations and control expenses.
The average house will sell in less than four months, while the average business sale is nine months to a year.
Even after the business is sold, the seller can be expected to put in at least a few months, and possibly years of transition time, helping to make the new owner a success.