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09/10/2014

Looking to sell your business, then preparation is key

For any business owner, selling the business they’ve worked so hard to build can be a complex, potentially emotive issue and one that’s often neglected until it becomes a pressing matter. 

Industry estimates suggest that as many as a third of business closures result from transfer failure often as a result of poor succession planning.  Added to this, a recent poll claimed that only 25% of Welsh businesses have carried out any form of planning.

Having supported over 90 Welsh SMEs with succession investment to date, Finance Wales can offer considerable insight into the planning and preparation a business owner needs to do to ensure they get what they want when they finally sell up.

Know your options

There are a number of options to consider when selling your business.  Should you sell to your existing management team (an internal sale) or to a third-party (an external sale), for instance?

It’s important to be realistic though when choosing. A lack of scale or intellectual property could make your business less attractive to an external buyer, perhaps making an internal sale a more sensible option.

Prioritise

A clear understanding of your own priorities will help you to remain in control throughout the process and ensure you achieve what best suits your needs.  

To get the right balance, you’ll need to think about issues such as:

  • Is maximising value paramount?
  • Do you want to sell your business quickly? 
  • Is a lasting legacy important to you?

Finding the right buyer

Finding the right buyer can be tricky, but having a clear view of your own priorities will help you assess their suitability.  Bear in mind that any potential buyer is likely to have a different view of the business to your own. 

While your existing management team will have a better understanding of your company’s culture and are less likely to restructure, rebrand or relocate the business, external buyers can offer a more experienced management team and greater access to finance.

Either way, try to understand and take account of your potential buyers’ motivations in your planning.

Preparing your company for succession

Regardless of how you eventually choose to sell your business, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you maximise its value and attract the right buyer:

  • Understand your business’ strengths and identify and rectify any weaknesses.
  • Demonstrate financial robustness and continue to invest in key assets such as equipment.
  • Good governance pays dividends – reliable, timely information will speak volumes about your business.
  • Boost your management team and reduce their reliance on you.  The greater your involvement, the more difficult it will be to sell your business. 

What next?

Finance Wales can support a full range of business succession options. To find out more about how we can help contact us.