Business sales almost always take longer than owners think they will. Even the most straightforward of deals can take up to 90 days to complete. It’s natural to hope that everything will go smoothly and quickly, and owners who think the deal should be happening faster will sometimes get anxious that the deal won’t happen at all.
“I’m beginning to think he’s not a serious buyer.” “Maybe this whole deal is going to fall apart – should we look for another buyer?”
Handling these kinds of questions is part of my job, and why I recommend that owners always engage an experienced broker when they decide to sell. Most owners we work with are selling a business for the first time; probably the most complex transaction they’ve ever been a part of. Selling a house (which is pretty complicated in itself) is nothing by comparison.
I get it. It’s stressful. Owners have a lot on their plate during the time they’re getting ready to sell. They still have to run the business so that it’s profitable. They make decisions about hiring and other important issues that can affect the company’s value over the long run. They have to take a lot of time away from managing to attend meetings, organize and clean up the books, and provide reams of paper documents for due diligence.
The prospective buyer is going through an even more rigorous process on the other side of the deal. Getting all their finances in order, complying with all the lender requirements, doing due diligence, and figuring out how they’re going to run the business and make it more profitable.
All this to say that there’s almost no such thing as a buyer at this stage who isn’t serious. The process is too complicated and difficult to take on if you don’t intend to follow through. But many buyers run into snags along the way. They may have issues that need to be resolved (taxes, previous business agreements, getting professional evaluations of assets, delays in getting the right funding in place), or they may simply have to provide another couple of reams of documentation.
Part of my job as a broker is to keep communication flowing between the two sides. The buyer’s team doesn’t have to share every detail of what’s happening, but if you build the right kind of relationship up front, they will be more willing to keep us posted about delays and important issues that come up.
As frustrating as delays are, in the end, they are a benefit to the seller. The more cautious and thorough the lender is, the more confident you can be that the deal is financially sound. If you are holding a note for the buyer, you’ll really want to make sure that the new owner is the right fit and can make the business profitable.
Having a broker who’s seen it all can help keep a seller calm and focused through the process of the sale – even when it seems to be taking longer than it should. The energy a seller spends on worry can be rechanneled into running the business until the deal is completed.
Bianca Evans is an experienced business broker based in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a top producer in her field and has made over 190 transactions since 2006. She is a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), a Certified M&A Professional (CM & AP), a Board Certified Intermediary (BCI), and has her B.S. degree from the University of Florida.
In her 16 years of experience, she has sold businesses in manufacturing, wholesale/distribution, service, retail, restaurants, professional offices, and more.
She has earned the prestigious million-dollar-plus award among her many accomplishments for 15 consecutive years. She has sold the most (dollars) in North Florida for the past three years.
As part of her process to list a business for sale, she offers free business valuations.
She maintains her professional networks by participating in the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and the Business Brokers of Florida (BBF).
One interesting fact about Bianca is that she used to be a business owner herself! She has been on both sides of the transaction when she purchased and later sold that same business. She finds that perspective invaluable when relating to her clients and balancing the many details and emotions.
She is licensed in Georgia and Florida and speaks fluent German.