business sale checklist

Selling a business is a complex and life changing transaction.  The following is a high-level checklist to help you determine and communicate your objectives to a buyer.

Ownership

Do you want to sell 100% or would you be willing to retain a minority stake? Do you feel you could work with a partner? If retaining a minority stake, what would be your expected time horizon to hold the investment? Would you consider merging your business with another and retaining equity in the combined entity?

Employment

Are you interested in continuing employment beyond a required transition period? Full time or consulting contract?  What would be your preferred role and responsibility?  How long would you be prepared to provide transition services if you did not want to be employed long-term?

Valuation/Structure

Is there a specific dollar value you would expect to achieve from a sale, or would it be sufficient just knowing that you’ve achieved a fair market value? Would you be open to various forms of consideration – vendor notes, earn-outs, shares of the purchasing company? Is price the only important issue in a transaction? Or is taking care of your employees and retention of the company’s culture vital?

Succession

Is there anyone at the company to succeed the existing management group? If not, how optimistic are you that you’ll find someone to succeed them? What is the expected time horizon of the existing management group?

Business outlook

What are the current trends in the industry? Does the business require any significant capital investments in the foreseeable future? Is the business expected to go through a significant change in direction or have abnormal growth in the next few years? Are there any initiatives currently being worked on to improve efficiencies of the operations that have not been fully realized?

Economic outlook

Are interest rates high, low, rising? It is difficult to time economic cycles but, given a sale process can take several years from starting to completely out of the business (taking into account sale prep and planning and post close transition support) it is best not to try and time the sale of your business at the peak of an economic cycle.

If you’re thinking of selling your business, knowing the right answers to these questions can help you avoid costly mistakes. The better prepared you are, the greater your likelihood of reaching a successful outcome.

Recommended Further Reading

For more on when to sell your business, see: The Ideal Time to Sell your Business

For more on the Purchase and Sale Agreement, see: The Purchase and Sale Agreement Explained

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