You’ve been approached to sell your business – now what?

Two weeks ago I sat down with a client who confided that he’d been approached by someone wanting to buy his business. He hadn’t been thinking of selling, but he was open to hear what the interested party had to say.

“How do I go into this meeting without blinders on?” he asked. “What do I need to know?”

It was the third time in a matter of months a business owner had called me after being approached. With capital readily available at historically low borrowing rates, it’s becoming more common to receive an offer that’s unsolicited.

Would-be buyers are either competitors looking to achieve scale or a larger proportion of market share, private equity investors wanting to partner and grow the business, or investment bankers representing an interested buyer.

Being approached can put business owners in a tough predicament. You don’t want to lose an opportunity, but you’ve spent years growing your business, taking risks and making sacrifices. You may not feel prepared to sell, or maybe the idea of selling today is in stark contrast with your longer-term succession plan.

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Helpful Guidelines

1. Know what’s piquing your interest.

2. Find out their rationale.

3. Confidentiality is key.

4. Ask for their approach to value.

5. Don’t pay to have a discussion.

6. Think strategically about how to position your business.


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