Getting your business ready for sale

Getting your business ready for sale

Last week I was preparing a presentation for a group of business owners interested in getting their businesses ready for sale. Most businesses are not saleable and the received wisdom amongst the community of business advisors is that only 25% actually sell. The rest either die on the vine when the owners retire (many businesses are not really businesses, just jobs) or are handed over to the next generation – of family or leaders.

Part of the reason these businesses are not saleable is that they weren’t created to be sold. People start businesses for a wide variety of reasons, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of business owners I have met who started “With the end in mind” which as Steven Covey tells us is the second habit of highly effective people.

I’ve also met lots of business owners who ignore, at least in this area, the first habit – be proactive. They have a vision that one day someone will knock on the door and offer them a fortune, but that doesn’t often happen. There are not many pots of gold under those rainbows, but there are plenty of opportunistic buyers looking to grab a bargain.

Creating a saleable business takes time. Typically a buyer will look at the last 3 to 5 years for major changes and will estimate the future financial performance of the business based upon the last 3 years actual results.  It’s their estimate of future financial performance that underpins the valuation they will place on the business and the return they expect to achieve from their investment.


You are almost certainly not able to assess how saleable your business is, nor are you able to estimate it’s worth.  You need some help to identify the features of the business that will make it attractive, and those that will diminish the number of buyers and the value they will place on the business.

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