Don’t Sell Before You’re Ready

The buyer and seller have both agreed on the sale price and the terms of the transaction. Everyone appears satisfied. As the day of closing approaches, the seller seems less cooperative and more apprehensive about selling the business. Ultimately, the sale falls apart. Who’s to blame? The buyer was ready, willing and able to buy the business, and the seller appeared ready to sell.

The decision to sell one’s business is a serious step – a milestone in one’s life, both personally and professionally. Selling represents the end of ownership. It means, for many sellers, heading into uncharted waters. For others, it is the end of a dream — they built the business, or perhaps even started it. A part of them will always be in the business. So, to the seller, selling the business, represents the end of something and the beginning of something else – pretty dramatic stuff. Often, selling the business means parting with one’s biggest asset – the bulk of one’s wealth. The business can be a very personal thing, like a child is a part of the family.

Some sellers, in the middle of the selling process, suddenly realize just how important the business is in their life. Others realize that after the sale they will have nothing to get up for on a daily basis. This sounds good at first, but upon reflection it really doesn’t sound good at all. These are some of the reasons sales of privately-held businesses may not close. Sellers won’t admit their reason, so they masquerade the real reason behind another.

Perhaps, one of the most critical elements necessary for the successful sale of a privately-held business is the willingness of the seller to sell and move on. In some cases, the owner and the business have grown into one – the business becoming his or her alter ego. Before sellers decide to sell, they should make sure they can separate themselves from the business and are prepared to leave it. Sellers should not attempt to sell before they are ready!