Guide

Preparing to sell your business

Choosing advisers when selling your business

Experienced advisers are essential for an effective sale. The right adviser can have a big impact on the success of your sale and the amount you receive.

Accountants, solicitors and tax advisers

You will need an accountant and a solicitor. The accountant concentrates on the financial aspects of the sale - like preparing accounts for the business. The solicitor focuses on legal issues - like drafting a sale agreement.

You also need to use a specialist tax adviser to handle business and personal tax planning. Your accountant may be a tax specialist, or may be able to introduce you to one.

For more information, seeĀ choose and work with an accountant and choose and work with a solicitor.

Brokers and corporate finance specialists

Most businesses choose to use a specialist business broker or corporate finance adviser. These are involved at an early stage to take care of:

  • producing credible sales documents
  • researching, finding and vetting potential buyers
  • pre-sale grooming
  • negotiating a sale on your behalf

These can all be very time-consuming - so the adviser can manage the whole process, leaving you free to continue running the business.

To find a suitable corporate finance adviser, do research, look for recommendations and check that a broker has the necessary experience and proven track record. You can start by asking your accountant or solicitor if they can recommend someone who specialises in your sector. Maybe a business acquaintance, friend or colleague has had a good experience selling their own business.

Making your choice and agreeing fees

Always examine advisers' skills and expertise carefully. For example, you should look at:

  • what experience they have of selling similar businesses and how successful they have been
  • how they can help you to market the business
  • what contacts they have among potential buyers
  • what references they can provide
  • what the fees involved are and what they cover
  • how they will keep a sale confidential

If you're using a firm of advisers, make sure you feel comfortable with the people you'll be dealing with. Make sure the firm you choose is suitable for your business. For example, a specialist in selling fish and chip shops or pubs is unlikely to help sell a recruitment agency or precision engineers.

Fees

You will have to pay your advisers. Many advisers charge an hourly rate or up-front fees. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate a fixed rate for a particular piece of work. Some advisers, particularly corporate finance specialists and business brokers, are prepared to negotiate a success fee as part of their payment. For example, you might pay lower fees if you don't get your target price.