Force yourself to keep working on something that you’re actually losing interest in and you may be depriving yourself of the chance to sell it at peak value. Don’t sit around waiting for buyers to come to you. Here’s how to find a buyer for your business.
Document the Value
Although you might have your own ideas about what your business is worth, that might not be aligned with the market. It’s worthwhile to get an expert opinion on this because it will prevent would-be buyers from balking at an unrealistic price. Find an expert with accreditation by the American Society of Appraisers.
Bring the professional appraiser your financial statements and a list of assets to examine. He or she will come up with a fair value for your business and even provide you with documentation of its worth to show to would-be buyers. Once you have this documented, then you can start putting the word out.
Hopefully you’ve been networking all along to get your business to its current stage of fruition, but intending to sell the company is can be good a reason start talking to even more people.
People you already know might point you toward prospective buyers, and you might find them among your existing base of friends and business contacts — from your supply chain to your customer base and even possibly your employees (if you have any).
If you’re able to find interest among your existing network of contacts, meet with them in person to suss out their level of interest in actually doing a deal. You might find that they won’t actually be able to come through themselves but they might be able to help you get the word out to people who do have the ability to buy.
Take It to a Broker
Ultimately, you will probably need to find a business broker to connect you with a buyer. Know, however, that you will have to share something on the order of 15% of the proceeds of the sale as a fee.
So find a broker with knowledge of your industry — and the size and stage of your business — by going through the International Business Brokers Association’s member directory.
Once the broker lines up a buyer for you, you can expect at least a few months of due dilligence before the sale closes. Then you’ll have your money and be able to move your focus to whatever you hoped to do before selling — whether it’s moving on to another startup, retiring altogether or even returning to a salaried job.
Fellow entrepreneurs, what have your experiences been with buying or selling businesses? Or do you have a business you want to sell right now?
Jackie Cohen is an award winning financial journalist turned turned financial advisor obsessed with climate change risk, data and business. Jackie holds a B.A. Degree from Macalester College and an M.A. in English from Claremont Graduate University.