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How to find a buyer for your business

So, you've decided it's time to sell your business. Here are some popular strategies to find the right buyer.

Whatever reasons you have for deciding to sell your business, one thing is certain: you’re going to need some assistance.

Unless you are lucky enough to be passing your enterprise on to a trusted family member or have been approached by a plausible buyer, you will need some help in marketing your business effectively and deciding on a sale price.

This will mean some considerable leg-work on your part and there are a few options. Here are the most popular routes to selling a business:

Find a business broker

A business broker will effectively act as an intermediary between you (as the seller) and potential buyers of your business. As such, they will carry out a full valuation of your operation and will assist with marketing the business.

They will also handle initial approaches from prospective buyers and may already know of interested individuals. If you're worried about your competitors finding out about your attempts to sell the business, then you can rest assured that a broker would be expected to act with full confidentiality at all times.

When considering a South African business broker, it's important to remember that they will expect to charge a service fee, which will usually represent a percentage of the final, agreed sale price of the business.

Seek a formal valuation

You may decide, of course, that you would rather avoid paying a fee to a specialist business broker. Instead, you may have it in mind to advertise the sale of your business directly to potential buyers.

Before you can go about making a sale, you'll need to understand what would constitute a reasonable sale price. In order to do this, you may want to approach a professional business valuation expert.

They will be able to produce a valuation that is based on firm foundations. They will take a look at your financial statements, order book and business assets. On the basis of this information, they will provide a valuation and an associated report. This will certainly add weight to your argument, when you are discussing a sale price with potential buyers.

It may be the case, however, that the suggested value will be lower than you had hoped. If this is the result of the initial evaluation process, then you may wish to consider a second opinion. It's also worth noting that a buyer is likely to seek an independent view, before making a commitment to purchase.

Spread the word (discretely)

If you want to give yourself the best chance of making a sale, then it's important that you let others know that you are looking to sell.

You'll probably want to shout about it from the rooftops, and that's understandable because you'll want to attract a buyer and sell quickly.

However, keeping quiet about your impending sale is imperative to any business owner. Y ou will need to offer your business up for sale in a way that doesn't alert your customers, suppliers, competitors or employees.

Alerting them of your sale could trigger negative reactions and spark reactions from competitors, weakening your momentum and decreasing the overall value of your business. 

To find buyers, you could use blind advertising or brokers to help you get the word out. .

Make use of business forums

There are numerous other avenues for advertising your business. In particular, think about magazines, newsletters and websites that are specific to your industry. These are good locations for catching the eye of other small business owners within your own niche.

You might also consider business websites that have a broader audience. It will make sense to focus your initial efforts on sites that target South African residents, although you may wish to broaden your focus over time.

Ensure that you have a clear overall strategy in mind. It may also be helpful to set yourself some target timescales. Many business owners start out with the idea of selling the business in a direct manner, but decide to change course, after failing to get results within a certain period of time.

You may decide to do the same. If you're unable to find a suitable buyer for your business, then a business broker could offer the best option.

Ready to sell? You are just 10 minutes away from advertising your business to 1.3 million prospective buyers. Sell your business today.


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