Selling your business: A guide beyond the financials

Of course, you will need to consult your accountant on matters relating to the financial aspects of the sales process, but you, as a business owner, will also need to consider the fact that a potential buyer will want to see more than just cashflow and tax statements. No doubt these are important, but a good sale portfolio will encompass a number of other factors that are critical to evaluate from a buyers’ perspective, especially when it comes to the longevity of the business upon switching hands.

Below we’ve outlined a number of key issues that need to be addressed by a seller like yourself to really sell your company to interested parties, and to facilitate a smooth transition upon negotiation and the final transaction of the deal.

Highlight business relations

An accountant will have to provide balance sheets which detail profit and loss, cashflow, and tax statements going back at least three to five years. But in addition to the trading history of your business, buyers will also be interested in discussing the company’s future business potential and the strategies in place to ensure ongoing profitability.

To demonstrate evidence of this, you can provide customer contracts and proof of recurring deals to show longevity and a consistent influx of cash to support sales projections. Similarly, bring to attention the relationships and contracts you have with existing suppliers to indicate that your enterprise has strong foundations and is capable of and equipped for future business. Such evidence will highlight to potential buyers that your business has the grounds on which to thrive, and that it will not buckle upon your departure from the company.

Emphasise the strength of employment contracts

A good business is one that runs like a well-oiled machine, and is the optimal function of its components. Bringing this metaphor to your company, the success of your business relies on its own components: the employees. Naturally, a strong and reliable workforce forms the backbone of your business, and so it is in your (and your buyer’s) best interest that employment protocols are met, and that workers’ rights are protected. To ensure a smooth transition post-acquisition, buyers will want to see employment contracts and an overview of company policies and procedures – in particular, salary rates, hours of work, pension contributions, notice periods and termination clauses. Having all these details compiled in an employment pack will demonstrate strong management and the smooth internal running of the business, which is a sure-fire way to impress interested parties.

Keep on top of business matters

In addition to employees, other forms of capital are also integral to the success of your business, and having those matters up-to-date and up-to-scratch will be pertinent to buyers during the sales process. This can include providing evidence of any licenses you may hold, rental agreements, leases for any special equipment you possess, and above all, whether they all conform to industry standards and legal requirements. Having such information to hand will allow buyers to conduct their due diligence with ease, and will allow them to evaluate their requirements against your business’s offer.

Plan ahead for the future

As mentioned earlier, a business’s longevity is a key factor that will be at the forefront of every acquirer’s mind, and therefore should be a top priority for you as a seller as well. While trading history is important, a buyer will also be looking for strategies in place to promote growth in the future, and will want to examine the measures put in place to generate further growth and boost revenue. After all, this is an incentive for your acquirer to take on your business instead of another seller’s.

Having documents which also outline previously unexplored opportunities for growth shows that the company in question has the capacity for more and to tap into new markets. Any development of sales avenues or diversification will paint the company in good light, and will demonstrate a qualitative factor in the negotiation process to ensure a smooth transition down the line.