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What you need to know when selling your business: Part I

You've invested blood, sweat, tears and considerable amounts of money in creating a business and making it successful. You've probably cared for your business from the very beginning, spending years or even decades fostering growth and profitability. Now what?

Running a business is hard work, even after it has been established and becomes profitable. Sooner or later, you're going to want to retire and turn that business over to someone else. But just like starting a business, selling it can be a lengthy, complex and multi-step process. And that's what we'll be discussing in our next two posts.

When is the right time to sell?

As you might expect, the timing of your sale is largely dependent upon personal factors in your life. Maybe you're ready to retire. Maybe you want to move on to other exciting challenges. Maybe your family situation has changed and you need a steadier 9-to-5 job. Whatever the reason may be, you must decide when it feels right to sell.

That being said, economic factors should also be considered, when possible. Selling a business today is far easier than it would have been in 2008 or 2009, when the American economy was in the grips of the Great Recession. It may also be easier to sell during times when the business itself prosperous, as this makes it more attractive to potential buyers.

How much is your business worth?

If you were the one to create this business and keep it alive during tough times, the business may be priceless to you. Unfortunately, this means you may not be objective enough to come up with an accurate, real-world value. Therefore, you might want to consider hiring a professional to appraise it for you.

Certified public accountants can examine and tally the tangible assets of your business, and may be able to place value on intangible assets like the long-term viability of the business (often referred to as "going concern"). Once you have a price in mind, it's time to start looking for buyers.

Please check back next week as we continue this discussion.

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