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What do I need to know before selling my business?

While it may seem like selling a business would be less complicated or quicker than buying one, this isn't always the case. While some of the steps are similar, there are special considerations owners selling their businesses need to keep in mind to ensure as smooth a transaction as possible. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid the common pitfalls and help you move on to the next chapter of your life.

One of the most important parts of the selling process is finding a buyer, but many owners take this step for granted. Selling a business is not the same as selling a house. The pool of qualified buyers for a business is much smaller, and finding someone who is qualified and interested can be difficult. The most logical place to find a buyer for your business is by going to successful owners in the same industry and finding out if they are looking to expand. You may also consider selling to a larger regional or national chain.

Once a buyer is found, the next step is to start the financing process. While it is possible for some buyers to use a third-party lender, the majority of small-business sales in the country take place through owner financing. This means that you will, in effect, be acting as both the seller and the lender.

This does carry some level of risk, so it's important to have an attorney who deals with business and commercial aspects involved in the process to ensure your rights and interests are protected. Selling a business is just as big of a life step as buying, and taking the proper legal precautions is crucial.

Source: FindLaw, "How and When to Sell a Business," accessed June 08, 2015

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