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Frequently Asked Questions

Selling My Business

If you're considering selling your business, you likely have numerous questions about the process, from determining the right time to sell to understanding the financial implications. Below are our client's most frequently asked questions.

What are the first steps in preparing to sell my business?
  • Evaluate Your Reasons and Goals: Understand why you want to sell and what you hope to achieve. This will guide your decisions throughout the selling process.

  • Get a Business Valuation: Obtain a professional valuation to determine how much your business is worth. This helps in setting a realistic price and understanding your financial landscape.

  • Prepare Your Financial Records: Ensure all financial documentation is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. This includes profit and loss statements, balance sheets, tax returns, and contracts.

How long does it take to sell a company?

The process of selling a company can vary widely in duration, typically ranging from six months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the business, the market conditions, and the negotiation process. Factors such as the readiness of the company for sale, finding the right buyer, due diligence, and finalizing the sale terms can influence the timeline. Preparing thoroughly and engaging experienced advisors can help streamline the process.

What does the overall process for selling a company look like?

The sell-side M&A process typically involves five distinctive steps:

  1. Information Gathering

  2. Marketing Materials Preparation

  3. Going to Market

  4.  Auction and Negotiations

  5. Due Diligence and Closing

How do I determine the value of my company?

To determine the value of your company, a comprehensive analysis or business valuation should be performed periodically, especially if you’re considering selling your business within 3-5 years. The valuation typically includes the items listed below and is performed by an expert such as an investment banker that considers industry-specific factors and market conditions. Waypoint Private Capital offers complimentary business valuation for eligible business owners. 

  1. Product and service offerings

  2. Competitive advantages

  3. Management team

  4. Growth opportunities

  5. Intellectual property

  6. Industry and its outlook

  7. Revenue and profitability trends

  8. True EBITDA after making appropriate adjustments.

How do I enhance the value of my business before selling?
  • Improve Cash Flow: Take measures to enhance revenue and reduce unnecessary expenses. A healthy cash flow makes your business more attractive to buyers.

  • Streamline Operations: Ensure that all processes are running efficiently. A business that operates smoothly will be more appealing to potential buyers.

  • Maintain a Strong Workforce: A competent and reliable team is a valuable asset. Ensure that key employees are committed and incentivized to stay with the business post-sale.

How do I find a buyer for my company?

To find a buyer for your company, hiring an investment bank or M&A advisory firm. Studies have shown that business owners who hired an investment banker to sell their business obtained a valuation premium of 25% and an EBITDA multiple premium of 1.5x. 

Is the retention of key employees ensured?

The retention of key employees during a merger or acquisition is not automatically ensured but is often a critical consideration for the success of the transaction. Companies typically negotiate retention agreements or incentives as part of the deal to secure the commitment of essential personnel, recognizing their value in maintaining business continuity, knowledge transfer, and achieving post-merger integration goals. However, the specifics depend on the terms negotiated between the acquiring and acquired companies.

What is the purpose of a letter of intent or term sheet?

The purpose of a letter of intent (LOI) or term sheet in mergers and acquisitions is to outline the preliminary agreement between a buyer and a seller. It serves as a non-binding document that specifies the basic terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, structure, and key conditions. 

Will the sale influence profitability and earnings of the company?

Yes, selling a business can have an effect on the its profitability and earnings. It can lead to increased revenues through market expansion, cost savings from economies of scale, and enhanced efficiency. However, the impact can vary depending on the acquisition's strategic fit, the effectiveness of post-acquisition integration, and the management of potential challenges. 

Who should I involve in the selling process?
  • Hire an Investment Banker: An experienced investment banker can help market your business, screen potential buyers, and negotiate deals.

  • Consult with a Lawyer: Legal expertise is crucial in drafting and reviewing sales agreements and ensuring that all legal requirements are met.

  • Engage a Financial Advisor: An advisor can provide guidance on tax implications and help you manage and invest the sale proceeds effectively.

What are common pitfalls to avoid when selling a business?
  • Underpricing or Overpricing: Both can deter buyers or reduce the profitability of your sale. Rely on your business valuation and market trends to set a fair price.

  • Neglecting Due Diligence: Ensure that all potential buyers are thoroughly vetted to avoid deals falling through.

  • Ignoring Transition Planning: A smooth transition plan is essential for maintaining business continuity and securing the final terms of the sale.

What is the best way to market my business for sale?
  • Confidentiality is Key: Maintain confidentiality to protect your business relationships and employee morale.

  • Use Multiple Channels: Market your business through various channels such as online business-for-sale marketplaces, industry contacts, and professional brokers.

  • Create a Detailed Sales Memorandum: This document should highlight the strengths of your business and key financial figures, serving as a pitch to potential buyers.

What is due diligence?

Due diligence is a comprehensive appraisal of a business or asset prior to signing a contract, primarily conducted by a buyer. It involves scrutinizing financial records, legal documents, operational processes, and compliance practices to assess the risks and opportunities of the proposed transaction. 

How do I negotiate the sale?
  • Understand Buyer’s Motives: Knowing why the buyer is interested in your business can give you leverage during negotiations.

  • Set Clear Terms: Be clear about what is included in the sale, such as assets, liabilities, and ongoing contracts.

  • Be Flexible, But Firm: While it’s important to be open to negotiation, you should also stand firm on your key requirements to ensure a fair deal.

What should I do after the sale?
  • Plan for Tax Implications: Consult with a tax advisor to understand how to report the sale on your tax return and optimize tax outcomes.

  • Consider Your Next Steps: Whether it’s retirement, starting a new venture, or other investments, planning your next move in advance can lead to a more fulfilling post-sale phase.

What happens at closing?

At closing, the final legal documents are signed, transferring ownership of the target company to the buyer, and the agreed-upon payment is made. This process includes the execution of the definitive purchase agreement, fulfillment of all pre-closing conditions, and the settlement of any closing adjustments. Additionally, necessary regulatory approvals are confirmed, and any required third-party consents are obtained. The closing signifies the official completion of the transaction, after which integration processes and the transition of operations, assets, and employees can begin.

How much does it cost?

The cost to sell a company varies depending on the size of the business, the complexity of the deal, and the professional fees involved. Expenses can include legal and accounting fees, advisory or brokerage fees, valuation costs, and potentially regulatory filing fees. These costs can range from a small percentage to a significant portion of the transaction value. Typically, sellers can expect total costs to be in the range of 2% to 10% of the sale price, but this can vary widely based on the specific circumstances of the sale.

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Thinking of Selling Your Business? 

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