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What should you do if you want to sell your business?

If you want to sell your small business, there are some common steps and considerations that can help streamline the process. While every situation is different, and you should always work with professionals who can help you ensure all details are considered, these common sense approaches can alleviate some potential hassles.

First, know why you are selling, as this is something a buyer is going to ask. If you are selling because the business is struggling, then the buyer wants to know about that risk. If you are simply moving on to different projects or are ready to retire, you might be able to get a better price.

Preparation for the sale should begin a year or two in advance when possible. Even if you don't know to whom you will sell the business or have an exact date, it's a good idea to start preparing yourself for an exit strategy. You can also line up processes so customers are taken care of during any transfer of your business.

You'll need to have a number of business and financial documents for a sale. The buyer will likely want to review your financial records to understand the state of the business. You might also want to work with someone to value your business appropriately before you begin the sale process. If you understand what your business is worth, then you can negotiate better for an optimal price.

Finally, you should have a plan for after the sale. What will you do with the profit from the sale, and what are you going to do personally? If you aren't going to retire, you should have a plan so you can ensure any sales contract you sign doesn't inhibit that plan. Working with a legal professional to vet all documents and guide you through the process can help you wind up with a better sales outcome.

Source: Investopedia, "7 Steps To Selling Your Small Business," Brigitte Yuille, accessed June 17, 2016

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