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Selling a Company – Time to Go!!!

Selling the small business, it is never easy. The process is an emotional rollercoaster. After all, this may be the biggest financial decision that one makes in their life. But for many entrepreneurs, the hardest part isn't preparing the business for the marketplace or finding the right time to exit. Too often the entrepreneurs stay too long. They do not start the process until the company should be in transition – without appreciating the fact a sale can take up to two years. 

Your business has supported you and your family for years and in many cases for generations. To discard the business is like having one of the children leave. The number of times that a seller will leave the buyer “at the altar” is alarming. Having worked with both sides – the majority of times it is not the economics of the transaction. The seller may find some tertiary issue or excuse to defer the transaction. 

It is paramount that you know in advance as to the price that you need, the terms and conditions, etc. before you start accepting offers. Be realistic on your requirements.  For example, do not require the buyer to employee family members, keep the same staff for years, limit the market the buyer is interested in attacking, new process required, etc.  

So when it's time to say goodbye, go. Do not follow up, unless requested by the new owner, with employees, customers, and vendors. And if situation is that you meet with the employees for social occasions – NEVER discuss the “office”.  Why put the employees in a “no win situation”? With the strongest possible position – unless required, do not get an office in the same facility. If you have other endeavors interest, address them offsite at different locations. 

The key to success is plan for the transaction and when it occurs view it as a compilation of your cumulative success. 

Michael Koeppel