Dreaming of Selling Your Business

Dreaming of Selling Your Business

What’s your business worth? Do you imagine exiting your business at some point and benefiting from the value created by your life’s work that sits within your business? The reality is that many people are asking themselves these questions, but what are they doing about it? The tragic reality is the majority of people don’t get past the dreaming stage.

A goal is a dream with a deadline. This was the mantra I first heard at a conference that I went to in the nineties. It’s only now I know it be authored by the controversial character Napoleon Hill (USA 1883 -1970). 

The thing is, Napoleon Hill has a point. You know you’ll exit your business one day, everyone does…one day. Selling a business is a complex, although not necessarily complicated, process. If you were selling your car or your home you would at least make them presentable and show them in the best light.

So why is that so many good business people fail to prepare to exit their business? It’s partly because it always feels so far away and there are a lot of immediate things screaming for attention. 

Another big reason is that business owners have generally not exited a business before and don’t know what needs to be done to ensure they maintain control and get the best deal. The first person to knock on the door and offer a price is unlikely to be doing you a favour.

As it happens, dreams can come true when you least expect them to and not always when you had hoped. Your business is most likely your biggest asset and may employ family and friends, so perhaps setting a goal now is the thing to do for everyone’s benefit. 

I personally know of London family business that never planned on an exit of any sort. The forced end result was little better than a fire sale achieving virtually no cash. Such a shame for all involved.

At the same time, I am currently working with a company in Berkshire that is enthusiastically working up options and plans for a business exit in 2028. Their dream with deadline is very likely to be achieved in style.

Start colouring in your dream. Write down the things you would like to achieve by exiting your business. What will the outcome be of your years of hard work? Now, when is this going to happen, what’s your deadline?

If you try and sell your business in just a few months you will rarely get the best outcome. If you plan three years plus in advance you will be providing yourself with many more options and the process will be lot more enjoyable.

I am a partner at Succession Plus. We are specialists in providing proactive, focused and strategic advice for SME owners to help them manage strategic Business Succession and Exit Planning. I am enjoying a career that has embraced product and service businesses at all stages of their journey. I have worked in technology, telecoms, consumer electronics, payments, media, and publishing.

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