The ultimate guide to selling your business

If you’re a small-business owner, it’s likely that you’ve put in years of effort, passion, commitment and investment during every waking hour, building your business for success. It’s a life-consuming undertaking, and at some stage, you may want to consider an exit strategy.

There are several reasons why selling your business could make sense. The challenge is knowing when the time is right. 

How to know when it’s time to sell your business

Some common reasons to sell a business:

1. Poor health

2. You’re approaching retirement age

If you are close to retirement age, it’s natural to consider selling your business. But don’t undervalue your business just because you feel you are at a particular stage of life.

3. Your business has grown beyond your skill set

Business growth requires new skill sets, which may outgrow you as the founder of the business. Every business, regardless of size or industry, has stages of growth. Each stage brings new challenges and requires different skill sets and levels of experience to manage it successfully. In this scenario, it might be worth selling your business to someone with the experience and appropriate skill set to take it to the next level. 

4. You want to move into another type of business or sector

5. You’ve been made an offer you can’t refuse

If someone makes an offer to buy your business when you haven’t actively been looking to sell, it might be for 1 of 2 reasons:

  • They may see your business as competition.

  • Your business may be showing good growth in a particular niche that is trending up. This could capture the attention of other entrepreneurs and business investors.

6. Your business is doing well

You might think that it’s counterintuitive to sell a successful business, but a strong business with good prospects is always easier to sell than an underperforming one. A potential buyer is more likely to pay a premium price for an already successful business, since it means security and a clearer return on investment (ROI). If your business is doing well consistently, you’re in a strong negotiating position if you decide to sell.

No matter why you want to sell your business, the timing of your sale can influence the price. The price will also depend in part on past performance and profits, so consider those figures carefully before you put your business on the market.


Once you’ve made a successful sale, it’s just as important to invest the proceeds wisely


How do you manage the sale of your business?

  • Timing is crucial. Look to prepare a sale at least a year in advance. This will give you time to update financial records, customer details and any other information on your database. 

  • Price your business appropriately. Consider bringing in an objective business appraiser for this process. 

  • Decide whether you’ll need a business broker, or if you can negotiate the sale yourself.

  • Organise your financial statements and tax returns for the past few years and go over the details with an accountant.

You shouldn’t rush the process of preparing to sell your business and negotiating the sale. It takes preparation to optimise the business and attract a buyer – and even though you might be ready to retire or keen to move on, you deserve the chance to be rewarded with a fair price for your hard work building up the business. This should ensure that you cash out for a significantly higher value and receive an appropriate ROI. 

Getting the right help

Selling your small business is not as easy as it might seem. Along the way, you’ll need proper advice from your bank, or the services of an accountant or a lawyer. Whether you sell your business at a profit will depend on many factors, including the reason for the sale, the timing of the sale, the strength of the business’s operations, and its future projections.

If you’ve put an exit plan in place and made the necessary preparations, due diligence will be easy for a potential buyer, and you’ll be in an ideal position to sell. Once you’ve made a successful sale, it’s just as important to invest the proceeds wisely. Take the time to work with a financial professional and determine how you want to use the profit from the sale – it might fund another business venture or go into your retirement investments.

You should reap the benefits of your hard work. Make sure you enjoy them.