If you're considering selling up, there are a few promising places you could turn to in your search to find the right buyer for your business. So let’s look at the top four options you have if you want to find a buyer for your small business:
Online – business for sale marketplacesHarnessing the power of the Internet to find a buyer for your business certainly makes sense. In most circumstances it should be one of the first options you consider. Thanks to technology, selling your business online via a reputable website has been made easy.
Putting your business for sale online will help you to reach a really large audience, as long as the website that you use has traction. You will, however, still need to be aware of how you word and present your listing if you want to stand out from the other business that are listed.
Sometimes just advertising your business on a larger and more generalised portal can generate enquiries by attracting a wider market you may miss by restricting yourself to niche industry platforms.
You will need to do a significant amount of research to make sure that you value your business correctly. Oftentimes, it can help to have a professional weigh in on what the value of your business is and what price you can realistically expect.
Listing your business online is a simple way of advertising it, however, don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t still need to do the work to manage enquiries and viewings, and make sure that the final deal happens at a price that you want.
Trade press – online and print publicationsWhatever your business sector, it’s bound to have a series of dedicated online portals, sector-specific trade magazines, regular informative and promotional newsletters and similar outlets. Such platforms will usually give you the chance to advertise your business for sale with relevant buyers.
If you use such sources in a bid to secure a direct sale, it’s also important to set a realistic time-frame in which to achieve your sale objectives. You could be lucky and achieve a rapid result, but when promoting your business for sale via specialist sites you are to some extent also restricting the pool of potential buyers.
Selling to someone already in the industry has its advantages. They could be more likely to secure a loan because of their experience and/or they could be more likely to take the business in the direction you would prefer.
Your network: Friends and family, employees and extended contacts
If you are going to sell through your network of contacts, be aware that you will have to then make the sale very public. Because, as the experts say: ‘You just can’t sell a secret!’. In other words, to sell your business you have to divulge the fact to the market.
And this may have implications for you if the news reaches your customers, suppliers, business rivals and workforce. This doesn’t have to be a problem. One of these contacts could be the person who ends up buying your business.
CompetitorsA competitor may be willing to pay a higher price for your business if there is strategic value to them.
Even business rivals can be sounded out and asked to sign legally binding non-disclosure agreements before any sensitive business information is revealed and discussed.
The question of approaching your competitors is especially tricky. On the one hand they may be willing buyers, but on the other hand it’s hard to pretend that an unsuccessful approach won’t do some harm further down the line.
Informal advertising and letting it be known you are open to offers must always be carried out with maximum discretion. Finding someone within your network, though, can be a lucrative option as they will be familiar with the successes of your business and might be more willing to pay a fair price!
Depending on the complexity of the sale, though, you might decide to go down a more traditional route and use a broker. Particularly in a complicated selling situation, a broker can provide experience and expertise at the point where you could feel out of your depth if you were going solo.