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.
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.
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.