If you're thinking about selling your business, it's best to plan ahead and create a company that will be truly appealing to a potential buyer. The process of taking a bit of extra time and effort to dust off your systems and bookkeeping will pay off handsomely by adding to your company's appeal and value.
1. Catch up on your bookkeeping. The first question a potential buyer will want to ask is how much money he'll be able to make by owning and operating your company. The more complete and clear your records, the better he'll be able to answer that question.
2. Discuss your business sale with your landlord. If your company depends on a particular location or you have made expensive leasehold improvements, a potential buyer will want to know that he can keep the business where it is. Ask to put a clause in your lease establishing that it is valid even if you sell your company, and make sure that your landlord is on board with the terms of your potential sale.
3. Write an employee manual. If you're selling a business, it's important to create a document that a subsequent owner will be able to use to train employees. A training manual puts this information into a form that he will be able to use to hire new employees and train them in a manner consistent with your current systems and policies.
4. Write a business plan. Even though you're getting ready to move on, a business plan will provide a road map for a new owner, and show him your company's potential as well as the milestones you have already achieved.
5. Judiciously involve a few key employees in the sale process. If the value of your company is tied up with their expertise, a potential buyer will want to know that they are on board with a business sale.
6. Evaluate your systems. The better your systems, the more they will work to your advantage in the process of selling a business. Make sure company operations are smooth and efficient. Measure outcomes and, whenever possible, work to improve them.
7. Take a vacation. Although it's not a great idea to go away for an extended length of time if you're planning on selling a business, a brief vacation will provide you with valuable information about how well your company functions in your absence.