If you are ready to sell your business, then you might already know the importance of confidentiality during a business sale (if you don’t, read this now).
Keeping the for-sale status of your business as need-to-know-only information will be pivotal to a successful sale, and the best person to help you maintain confidentiality is an experienced and qualified business broker.
Notice that we said experienced and qualified. Like any industry there are brokers who know what they’re doing and those who could care less. You don’t want the latter on your team. You don’t want a broker who responds to every form or email inquiry about your business with an automatic nondisclosure agreement (NDA) – without any idea of who the person is that’s signing it. Allowing dozens and dozens of NDAs on your business opens you up to a myriad of problems.
A prospective buyer should be answering some very important questions before they’re just handed the NDA. If anyone who tries can get access to your business information, the likelihood of maintaining confidentiality (as well as the likelihood of finding the right buyer) will probably be small.
The initial vetting of prospective buyers is critically important, and if your broker knows what they’re doing they will be asking questions like these:
Do they have any practical experience with a business like yours?
You’ve worked hard to make your business what it is today, so you aren’t likely to hand the keys to someone who is destined to immediately drive your business into the ground. Potential buyers need to have some sort of practical experience, training or education in your industry so they don’t have to add learning an entirely new industry to the already steep learning curve of taking over an existing business. This is also very important if you lease your business location, as a commercial landlord is unlikely to transfer a lease to someone who would have no idea what they’re doing. It’s a safer bet for the landlord to have you stay on as the owner and keep paying the rent.
Do they have the financial means to actually buy your business?
The business market is full of buyers who think they can afford businesses they definitely can’t – incorrectly assuming they will be able to finance 80-90% of a sale. In most business deals where financing is involved – be it SBA loans, seller financing or a more traditional loan – a buyer will need to come to the table with a sizeable down payment. A good broker will have a very serious discussion with a prospective buyer about how much cash they actually have available to buy a business, how much financing they would actually be able to get and then only disclose to that buyer businesses they can afford.
Is this buyer who they say they are?
One of the ways confidentiality can be breached is by letting the wrong person sign the NDA for your business. Think a current or former employee who is looking to confirm a rumor or a competitor looking to move in on your niche. Your broker should ask you to come up with a list of people who can’t know the business is for sale, and then verify someone’s identity before handing them the NDA to sign. Good brokers ask a lot of questions, require some personally identifying information and then wait to verify that information before disclosing your business.
The point here is in order to reach a closing table successfully, you need to make sure you have the right help. Ask your broker what they do to vet potential buyers. Are they asking questions? Or do they disclose to anyone who asks?
Are you getting ready to sell your business and want to know more about why confidentiality is important? Would you like to know more about our process to vet buyers? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.
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Siesta Key, FL 34242