You’ve made the decision to sell your business. You found a good broker who spent a lot of time talking to you about the vital nature of confidentiality in business sales, and as such you haven’t told your staff, your clients or your vendors about your plans to sell and move on to the next phase of your life. You’ve been careful not to talk about your business sale in front of your kids or your neighbors. You’ve only allowed buyers with signed NDAs access to your business. There’s a good bit of interest and everything seems to be going well.
Then one afternoon you get a panicked call from one of your staff. The word is out and your manager just quit.
Everyone knows the business is for sale and now you’re trying to keep the rest of the staff from quitting and your biggest client from walking on next year’s contract.
You call your broker, and they look through all of the NDA’s and all of the buyers who have considered your business – but the breach isn’t from them.
What happened? It was you.
You got a haircut.
Barbers, hairdressers and bartenders. What do these people have in common? You probably tell them way more than you would tell any other relative stranger. It seems harmless. They aren’t in your social circle and what you tell them seems like a private and confidential conversation. Guess what? It‘s not.
It is the very nature of their job to have these kinds of conversations with lots and lots of people. People who you didn’t know are friends with your staff. People who are the wife of your biggest client. People you may not have considered as people who could blow the confidentiality of your business sale apart.
These seemingly innocent conversations can have a huge impact on your ability to sell your business – or even your ability to keep the doors open. Confidentiality means everyone, not just those who you consider the most likely to spill the beans. To drive the point home – we’ve even seen a conversation between strangers on an airplane lead to a breach, so talking about selling your business with the guy cutting your hair down the street from said business is probably a colossally bad idea.
If you want to keep your business sale under wraps, the best idea is to keep that information to yourself and to the select few who need to know. Otherwise, a simple haircut can lead to a complete disaster.
Are you thinking about selling your business and want to know more about why confidentiality is so important? Do you have a cautionary tale to share with other sellers? Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.
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Fort Myers, FL 33907
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