The Most Common Mistakes
Business Sellers Make
You’re a pro at running your business—at drumming up sales when you need to, at navigating the ups and downs of your industry, and keeping things running like a well-oiled machine. So you might think you’ll be equally adept at selling it. Most sellers have never sold a company before, and go into the process with many misconceptions that can erode value and ultimately tank the sale. Here are the most common mistakes—and how you can avoid them.
Not seeing things from the buyer’s perspective
Buyers don’t invest in businesses to enrich owners. They are investors, who want to grow the company and see handsome returns on their investment. Consider what information you would want to see if you were buying your business. What would you hope to do with the business? Then be prepared to answer buyers’ questions as quickly and comprehensively as possible.
Letting the business fall apart
Selling a business can be exhausting. Perhaps that’s why so many owners neglect their businesses during the sale process. Buyers don’t want to invest in your promises; they want to invest in the facts of your business. So if your business loses value, it’s a huge red flag. Investors are deeply risk-averse. Don’t activate their risk avoidance tendencies by letting the business fall apart.
A sale isn’t something you can decide to undertake overnight. It requires lots of preparation. With enough time, there is plenty you can do to increase the value of your company. You’ll also need to get your books in order, prepare for due diligence, and increase your company’s curb appeal to the greatest possible extent. Disorganization and lack of preparation make your business look less well-run, and can deter buyers from giving it a second look. The right advisory team can lend professional credibility to the sale process while helping you prepare.
Unreasonable value expectations
You’ve poured a lot into your business. So for you, estimating value can be difficult—not to mention highly emotional. If you don’t know the value of your business or get so offended by value discussions that you walk away, you’ll kill the deal. Your business might not be as valuable as you hope it is. But being willing to take an honest look at key value drivers may help you generate additional value, especially if you plan the deal well ahead of time and work with a professional deal team.
A sale is a transaction that must generate value for both parties. Buyers want proof that your company is worth spending their money on, and they have no reason to take you at your word. So ultimately, avoiding seller mistakes means understanding what buyers want and finding ways to deliver this. For most companies, working with an M&A advisor can make the process easier, more transparent, and less stressful. Your advisor oversees the daily aspects of the deal, freeing your time and energy so you can remain focused on running the company.