4 Things to Do Before You Sell Your Business

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
4 Things to Do Before You Sell Your Business
Image credit: Synergy Biz
min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sales of small businesses rose in 2012, and business brokers expect more sales next year, according to recent survey data released by online business marketplace BizBuySell. The increased number of sales this year has reportedly been driven by concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and the cost implications of a returning Obama administration.

The bad news? It typically takes six to nine months to sell a business, so if yours isn't already on the market, there is little chance it will sell before the end of the year.

The ideal time to start preparing to sell is two years before the date you hope to sell by, says Curtis Kroeker, general manager of BizBuySell. The more advance preparation, the better. Even if you don't plan that far ahead, there are several steps you should take before putting your business on the market.

Related: 3 Questions to Ask Potential Acquirers

1. Get your house in order. "The most important thing to do is to make sure your business is performing as well as it can," Kroeker says. Now is the time to assess your cash flow, your expenditures, your tax strategy and other elements of your operation to see whether they are optimal.

2. Consider the timing. It's always easier to sell a business when it's on the upswing. For this reason, owners of seasonal businesses should look to sell soon after their busy season begins, Kroeker says. Plan ahead and you won't find yourself desperate to sell during a slump.

3. Consult with experts. There's no shame in seeking expert assistance. If structuring the sale in a tax-friendly manner, setting a price or other parts of the process are too much for you, consult your accountant and consider getting a business broker to handle the sale. That way you can focus on doing what you do best: running your business.

4. Show buyers a bright future. "When a buyer buys a business, primarily the focus is going to be on the proven track record," Kroeker says, "but there is also the future potential [to consider]." He recommends putting together a growth strategy to show potential buyers. One of your greatest assets as a small-business owner is your intimate knowledge of your own operation; use that to point out opportunities for the new owner to expand the business. The few days' work it requires may pay dividends in a sale.

Related: Selling Your Business? Serial 'Trep Gurbaksh Chahal Says Be Bought, Not Sold

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Privacy Policy.