Steps to Sell a Business Quickly and Efficiently
Selling a business in North Carolina can be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution to achieve a timely and successful sale. While every business sale is unique, there are some key steps sellers can take to sell their business as efficiently as possible without sacrificing value. sell your business
How Long Does It Usually Take to Sell a Company in North Carolina?
One of the most common questions North Carolina business owners have when wanting to sell their company is, “How long will this process take?”
The timeline for a successful business sale can vary based on these key factors:
- Type of Business – Asset-light services businesses often sell more quickly than multi-location manufacturers or other complex operations.
- Preparedness – Owners who have all their financials, legal documents, and valuations ready can expedite the process.
- Marketing Effort – Actively marketing through multiple channels usually surfaces buyers more quickly than passive approaches.
- Due Diligence – Lengthy due diligence involving facilities, equipment, inventory, or in-depth operational analysis may extend timelines.
- Buyer Type – Strategic buyers familiar with the space typically move faster than individual investors or PE firms new to the industry.
Here are typical business sale timeframes to expect in North Carolina:
- Broker Sale: 6-12 Months – Hiring an experienced broker to qualify buyers and manage marketing and negotiations can streamline deal completion.
- Direct Marketing: 9-18 Months – Owners selling directly to competitors or contacts in their circle often require more time to find the right buyer.
- Private Equity: 12+ Months – Partnering with a PE firm for an investment or acquisition may take over a year from initial interest to funded transaction.
- Employee Buyout: 6-12 Months – Employees can make strategic buyers since they understand operations, reducing due diligence time.
With preparation and commitment, most healthy North Carolina businesses can sell within a year. However, it’s critical not to rush the process at the expense of finding the right buyer willing to meet your asking price and terms.
Following the right steps will allow you to sell your business fast without compromising its value. Here are the key steps to take:
1. Determine If Now is the Right Time to Sell Your Business
Before diving into the selling process, honestly assess if now is the opportune time to sell your North Carolina business. As a business owner, you are likely emotionally invested in your company. It is critical to separate emotions from the decision and evaluate if selling strategically aligns with your goals.
Consider the following factors to determine if the time is right:
- Business Growth: If your business has experienced sustained growth and reached maturity, it may be the ideal time to sell and maximize value. Buyers want to see steady historical growth.
- Market Conditions: Favorable market conditions, such as low-interest rates and high demand for businesses in your industry, create an optimal environment for sale.
- Personal Factors: Major life events, retirement goals, health issues, or simply burnout could influence the decision to sell.
- Competition: Some industries are more appealing than others to prospective buyers. Consider if the competitive landscape enhances or reduces the attractiveness of your business.
If the factors align, moving forward with the sale could produce ideal results. Be sure to reevaluate timing if any circumstances shift during the process.
2. Find a Reputable Business Broker
Working with an experienced business broker is one of the best ways to sell your small business or company quickly. A good business broker has extensive knowledge of the mergers and acquisitions process. They can help you accurately determine the value of your business, prepare it for sale, market it to potential buyers, and negotiate the best deal on your behalf.
Look for a broker who specializes in your industry and has a proven track record of successfully selling businesses similar to yours. Check their references and credentials. A brokerage firm that is a member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) is generally a good choice.
3. Get a Business Valuation
Before putting your business up for sale, it’s critical to get an objective valuation done by a professional business appraiser. This will determine the actual market value of your company based on its assets, finances, operations, and growth potential.
The valuation report will include a detailed analysis of your company’s past financial performance along with projected future earnings. It accounts for intangible assets like goodwill, intellectual property, and brand value.
This business valuation will help you set the right asking price for your small business. It also provides prospective buyers proof to back your price and serves as a basis for negotiation.
4. Prepare Your Business for Sale
Once you have a price in mind, take steps to prepare your business for the sale process. Preparation can optimize both the speed of sale and the final price. Key areas to focus on include:
- Financial Records: Get financial statements in order, including profit and Loss Statements, Balance Sheets, tax returns for the past 3-5 years, and projections. These documents tell the growth story buyers want to see.
- Assets: Compile a list of all business assets and their market value, including real estate, equipment, intellectual property, inventory, and other holdings. Assets boost business value.
- Operations: Document critical operating processes so the buyer understands how the business runs. Also, shows opportunities for improved efficiency.
- Staff: Determine which key staff the buyer needs to retain for smooth operations. Consider retention offers to prevent turnover.
- Facilities: Your facilities should be clean, organized, and up-to-date. Make needed improvements to convey that assets are well-maintained.
- Legal Housekeeping: Resolve outstanding litigation, clear contracts not conveying with the sale, and tie up any other loose ends.
Proper preparation removes red flags and helps buyers recognize true value. Allow 2-6 months for adequate preparation prior to listing your North Carolina business for sale.
5. Create a Descriptive Listing for Your Business
To attract motivated buyers quickly, you need to create an appealing business listing that captures the key details about your company.
Work with your broker to prepare a listing that includes:
- An overview highlighting your business’s products/services, competitive advantages, growth trends, and financial summary.
- Images/videos showcasing your business premises, inventory, equipment, systems, etc.
- Key metrics like revenue, profits, number of employees, customer demographics, market share, etc.
- Reasons why you are selling the business.
- An enticing title and description that captures the buyer’s attention.
- Contact details for buyers to reach out and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
Getting professional photos and videos done can further enhance your listing. Ultimately, you want to present a positive yet factual picture of your business to generate genuine buyer interest.
6. Market Your Business for Sale Strategically
To sell your business quickly, you need adequate exposure to qualified buyers. Your broker should have a plan to market your listing through various channels:
- Broker Network – A reputable broker will circulate your listing within their network of pre-qualified buyers who are looking to acquire businesses similar to yours. This helps reach buyers who are serious about purchasing.
- Online Listings – Websites like BizBuySell.com and LoopNet.com provide a lot of visibility among business buyers. Paid online listings tend to attract more buyers than free listings.
- Trade Publications – Listing in industry-specific publications and newsletters helps reach strategic buyers like competitors, suppliers, or investors already familiar with your sector.
- Email Campaigns – Email blasts about your listing to opt-in buyers, intermediaries, and private equity groups generate quick leads. Segmented outreach usually has a higher response rate.
- Print Advertising – Running ads in regional business journals, newspapers, or magazines expose your listing to local buyers.
- Networking Events – Attending trade shows and conferences gives brokers a platform to promote your business face-to-face to relevant parties.
Casting a wide net through multiple marketing channels ensures your business gets maximum exposure to find the right buyer fast.
7. Screen and Shortlist Potential Buyers
As you begin receiving inquiries from prospective buyers, your broker will screen respondents to assess which ones are worth pursuing further.
They will have prospective buyers sign an NDA first before providing in-depth business details. Serious buyers who have the financial capacity to acquire your business will readily agree to an NDA.
Your broker will vet buyers by:
- Understanding their background, interests, and acquisition criteria
- Evaluating their financial standing and ability to make a purchase
- Assessing their level of enthusiasm and seriousness to buy
- Checking any conditions or contingencies, the buyer may have
Once a prospective buyer seems like a good fit, your broker will provide them with detailed information about your business, facilitate site visits, and initiate negotiations.
Selecting the right buyers to engage demonstrates that you value your time and are committed to an efficient sale process.
8. Negotiate Effectively With Buyers
Negotiating the sale of your business will require strategic bargaining to get the best possible deal.
- Have a “walkaway price” – Determine the lowest price you are willing to accept beforehand so you don’t get pressured into accepting less.
- Get all offers in writing – Verbal offers can be retracted or altered easily. Insist that buyers provide their initial offer and any counteroffers in writing.
- Remain calm and professional – Avoid getting emotional or confrontational even if buyers make unreasonable offers. Maintain a businesslike demeanor.
- Do not share your walkaway price – This will weaken your negotiating stance. Make counteroffers incrementally to get buyers to increase their prices.
- Highlight the business benefits – Remind buyers about strengths like loyal customers, skilled staff, promising growth prospects, and valuable assets to justify your price.
- Use benchmarks judiciously – Be cautious about relying too much on rules of thumb about sales multiples. Every business is different.
- Let your broker lead negotiations – An experienced broker is in the best position to negotiate objectively on your behalf and influence buyers.
With the right approach, you can negotiate win-win terms quickly, even with multiple interested buyers at the table.
9. Close the Sale Smoothly
Once you’ve reached an agreement with the buyer, a few more steps will complete the sale process smoothly:
- The buyer performs final due diligence like quality of earnings analysis before closing. Be responsive to requests.
- You continue running the business as usual during this period to ease the transition later.
- The buyer arranges financing if they are not paying the full amount upfront.
- Lawyers on both sides will draft and review sales contracts to reflect the terms.
- Closing takes place once the contracts are signed and consideration exchanged. This is when you receive payment.
- You hand over control of the business to the buyer and provide any assistance needed initially.
- The buyer communicates news of the ownership change to employees, customers, vendors etc.
Closing the sale properly ensures you receive full proceeds on time, and the buyer can take over the business with minimum disruption.
Get Professional Help
Selling a business is complex, but breaking it down into eight manageable steps makes it efficient and effective. From preparing for sale to closing the deal, follow this blueprint to sell your North Carolina business quickly and profitably.
For assistance executing a strategic sales process, the business attorneys at Johnson Legal, PLLC serve clients across North Carolina. Contact their team today to discuss your specific situation and goals.