How Long Will it Take to Sell My Business?

You’ve thought about it, maybe for years. You’ve put your plan into place, and are ready to begin accepting offers to buy your business. Now what?

You’ve thought about it, maybe for years. You’ve put your plan into place, and are ready to begin accepting offers to buy your business. Now what? Business brokers are accustomed to working with buyers who are keen to quickly sell their businesses. After all, many have sat on the decision to sell for an extended period of time. So once you finally commit, you may feel a sense of urgency to move forward so you can transition to the next chapter. Or perhaps you’re anxious this will move too quickly for you to keep up. In either case, you have a lot of control over the speed at which your business sells. Here’s what you can expect.


Preparing Your Business

You’ll get the best results if you enter the marketplace with a business that has clean books, growing profits, and well-run operations. If you don’t already have these things, it can take a year or more to prepare. While that might feel daunting, it can mean a much higher sale price, so if you have the time, work with a business broker to get your company in optimal shape for a sale.


Finding a Buyer

If you’re very lucky, a well-qualified buyer will approach you, cash in hand, with deal terms that appeal to you and you’ll be able to exit without any stress. The reality is that this almost certainly won’t happen. Unsolicited offers usually come with quite a bit of liability, and deal terms that are anything but favorable to sellers. If you want to get the most out of the deal, you’ll need to find a well-qualified buyer. A business broker can be incredibly helpful during this process. With the right marketing materials, you may find a buyer in just a few weeks. But the more specialized your niche is and the more issues there are with your business, the longer it will take to find a buyer.


Getting to Closing

Once you've found the right buyer, it’s a simple matter of due diligence and negotiations. But for most sellers, this is also the longest part of the process—and anything but simple. You can expedite this process by preparing your business for sale ahead of time. Work with a business broker or advisory team who can help you get your books in order and prepare to respond quickly and efficiently to buyer requests.


Closing and Beyond

If you’re fully handing over your business, your responsibility ends at closing—so you need to be emotionally prepared for this reality. Many owners, however, elect to stay on in some capacity after closing. It’s important to draw up crystal clear terms for any advisory roles or earn outs, so that you know exactly what your responsibilities are, and what thresholds you must cross to earn additional fees. Otherwise you may find yourself in a state of limbo—both being responsible and not being responsible for your company—for what feels like forever.

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