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When selling your business, expect these

Personal experiences and those of other business brokers and consultants contributed to this list.

Should have gifted it sooner.

If your plan is to gift interests in the business to the next generation, pull the trigger on that now, before the business grows in value over the next 5 years along with your gift tax bill.

You may be lending money.

Most small private businesses that sell do so for their cash flows, with fewer carrying much in the way of the hard assets that banks like to have for collateral. So there's a good chance a buyer will not be able to finance all of the purchase price, and will look to you to be patient on some portion of the price, usually 10-15% of offered amount.

Timing will be key.

Too often circumstances force a sale, including diminished motivation and drive from ownership, or worse. If you fail to prepare and sell before you lose passion for the business, the value is likely slipping faster.

Better off paying more in income taxes.

If you remove all personal benefits buried in business expenses in an effort to boost reported income, you won't have to try to get add-back credits for those with a buyer, and the increase in business value will positively offset the additional income taxes from not deducting perks for a couple of years.

They won't pay for potential.

We often feel passionate about the potential our business has, and while it may also be the inspiration for an offer from a buyer, the amount of the offer won't include potential. It will be rooted in what revenue and cash flow have done in recent years, now what they could do.

Buyers love repeat customers and recurring revenue.

The less a buyer has to worry about finding new clients for the business, the more comfortable they will be about making the binding offer leap. If you have been able to establish many long term relationships with customers who come back year after year, you are in good shape.

You are less prepared than you think, even if you have prepared.

It is easy to overlook what is second nature to you and your team but would not be to an outsider. All procedures, policies, customer retention and customer growth methods need to be documented. Dozens of documents need to be assembled and digitized for sharing with potential buyers. Legal and financial moves need to be made prior. It takes a few years on average to prepare fully and properly.

The sales process will be an emotional roller coaster.

Most buyers will be working hard to get your price down. Some buyers will look promising before abruptly disengaging. There will likely be a few ups and downs emotionally. Disagreements between buyer and seller on what its worth. It's best to have professional representation to help keep each side from acting too irrationally.

Thanks for reading.

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