I’ve decided I want to sell my company – what now?

Sell my company!

If you’ve decided that you want to sell your company, then by far the best thing to do is to engage a business broker who can help you make sure everything is in place, get you the right price for it and ensure the process moves smoothly.

There are several distinct stages to selling your company which we go through on our page here, but here’s a little bit more detail so you can be sure you’re doing the right thing.

Fact finding

Any business broker will want to do some fact finding to ensure they know exactly what the company is about, whether it’s in a condition to sell and whether, indeed, the broker wants to get involved. This usually takes the form of a face-to-face meeting but sometimes it can be done by telephone conference.

Be prepared for a lot of questions and if possible have your accounts available. Most importantly, be clear as to why you want to sell your business. It’s not just the financial, regulatory or system-based reasons but your emotional reason can be just as important and can make the different between a smooth and difficult transition to new owners.

Feedback

After some time to consider, we’ll then give you our opinion on the value of the business and whether we have any other relevant information. We may give you some advice on what to do to make your business more saleable or valuable. It’s at this time you will make a decision – will you sell or not? We obviously don’t want to force you into a decision but we can help if you have any questions.

Formal Instructions from client

We will need to you sign our standard broker agreement which will give us the instructions to proceed on your behalf.

Information Memorandum

An Information Memorandum will be drafted for your approval. You can read about them here : https://www.venturabusinessbrokers.co.uk/information-memorandum-document/

Marketing

We now get to the business of marketing your business. We will have already developed a profile of the most likely type of buyer. We tailor the specifics depending on the client’s business and market accordingly. We may advertise in the press, approach potential trade buyers or even purchases registered with us. Either way, confidentiality is key and all potential purchasers are closely vetted and will need to sign confidentiality agreements before they get to see any of your information.

Meetings

We’ll get a list of potential purchases and then arrange for you to meet all the suitable ones.

Offers for your company

The purchases will make all offers via us and we will discuss these with you as they come in. We’ll also handle the negotiations although we will be led by your instructions at all times.

Agreements

After much negotiation a price will be agreed together with a structure of the sale. This is very important because some purchasers require that the current directors stay around for skills transfer or to help with the smooth transition of the business. It’s important that all involved understand their roles moving forward. When all agreements are in place, we will create draft “head of terms” to be signed buy both you and the purchaser.

Buyer due diligence

Buyers obviously don’t just wade in and purchase companies without finding out a little bit about them. The purchaser will probably now want to go into a little more detail about the company they’re buying so they understand more about it.

Instruction of legal advisors

When both parties are happy and have signed the head of terms, we can then go ahead and contact the legal advisers.

Progress

Throughout the entire process and certainly at this part of the sale, we will keep both parties updated with information about what’s going on. Regular contact will be kept at all times as the sale reaches completion.

What is an information memorandum document?

An information memorandum is an important document when it comes to selling your company. It gives any potential buyer an overview of the company that is being sold and it provides the necessary information a potential buyer may need in order to decide whether they want to pursue a purchase.

A business may have built up a lot of useful trademarks or patents over time and this may add to its value, therefore it’s important to ensure they’re part of the memorandum. Also, key members of staff who may have distinct roles and skills within the business will need to be noted together with any sales and marketing procedures (for example, key paths to market, sales funnels etc.) and actual sales figures by product or service.

Accounts is an important part of the memorandum, too and it’s important to include at least three years’ past accounts with adjusted net profit.

As you can see, this document will include a lot of detail that could be of interest to competitors, so it’s important that it’s only provided to potential buyers who have signed a non-disclosure agreement (Ventura will take care of this, as would any business broker worth his/her salt).

How do I go about selling my company?

The most common question asked of any business broker looks simple – “How do I go about selling my company?” Unfortunately the answer very rarely satisfies because it really depends on what kind of business it is.

We’ve put together a whole set of documents that explain it, starting here: https://www.venturabusinessbrokers.co.uk/selling/initial-considerations/ but I’m sure some people when asking are really not that interested in the process, they’re more concerned with working out the initial steps, I mean, it’s not like you can pop your company on eBay, is it?

Well actually, yes, it can be. I’ve seen adverts in local post offices where people are trying to sell their still-running, on-going business and that’s absolutely fine. You’ll obviously have to deal with Companies House and HMRC to make sure all the technicalities are worked out, but if you’re willing to take the risk, you’re quite at liberty to sell your business to whoever you want for whatever you can get for it.

But is it safe?

I suppose the issue comes down to experience and knowledge. Any potential buyer (well, one that’s doing due diligence) is going to want to go over your accounts in fine detail. They’ll want to see your balance sheet, profit and loss, all you records of sales and orders and probably more information than you normally have just lying around the office. This person is about to make a huge investment and so wants to make sure their hard earned cash isn’t going to be wasted.

Again, most of this depends on the business you’re in. If you have a lot of recurring custom then the purchaser is going to want to know why. Do people come back time after time because of the prices are good? Is it a personal issue such as they like dealing with the owner personally? Are there any reasons that depend on the current owner? If the owner then goes, will those sales go, too?

As a seller you need to be ready for these types of questions and you have to have good answers. It may, at the end of the day, prove to be far more economical to engage with a business broker from the start and have confidence that all this can be taken care of by people who know what they’re doing and have a lot of experience in exactly this area.