Sometimes in the life of a business owner, the all-important decision of when to sell your business is made for you and is totally outside of your control. A sudden family illness, a need to move to another area or state – for these situations it is easy to make the decision to sell because you have no choice.
What if you’re never forced to sell? If you don’t want to stay the owner forever, never retire or pursue a different goal, then you will have to make a decision about when the right time to sell might be.
First and foremost, you need to be ready – emotionally ready. If the first buyer who makes an offer causes you to panic and pull your business from the market – then you have wasted a colossal amount of time and energy listing the business in the first place. You won’t be able to hand over the keys on closing day if you haven’t prepared yourself to let go.
Secondly, the business itself needs to be ready to hit the market. If it isn’t you need to be ready, willing and able to get it where it needs to be. If all of your paperwork is in a big, disorganized box under your desk, you haven’t filed your taxes in three years and half of your equipment is broken – you probably need to take some time to sort out all of the parts of your business a buyer will want to see before you list. Someone who really wants to sell a house is willing to clean out the clutter and give it a fresh coat of paint. If you aren’t willing to do something similar to get your business ready to sell, then perhaps you yourself aren’t really ready.
Lastly, you need to look at the market. If you were thinking about selling your business right after the financial crisis that caused the recession, you probably would have decided that it would be smarter to wait until the market came around. Market fluctuations in the small business world can vary as a whole, by specific industries and/or by local area. The best thing you can do to feel out the market for your business is to have a conversation with a business broker. Finding out the general health of the small business market, how your area is faring and what businesses comparable to yours have recently sold for will probably help you immensely in determining if now is the right time to sell.
Deciding the right time to sell can be very difficult because the perfect time to sell doesn’t exist. You need to weigh your goals and the market to determine when the best time would likely be. Talk to a good business broker today and then do some personal soul searching to decide if you really are ready.
Would you like to know what businesses comparable to yours have recently sold for? Do you have more questions about how to decide the best time to sell? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.
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