How to Protect Confidentiality When Selling Your Business

The right Business Broker knows when Confidentiality is key to Selling your Business

The decision to sell your business is a big one, one that has

Metro Business Advisors helps business owners prepare for Life Beyond Business

Business owners: prepare for your Life Beyond Business with Metro Business Advisors

probably caused you to toss and turn for months, if not years.

I’m sure that among the “what if’s” you’ve considered are:

What if word gets out that I am considering selling?
How would that news affect the employees…their morale, their feelings about job security and, ultimately, their productivity?
Would customers worry about the future of their relationship with the company?
Could customers still count on prompt deliveries, uninterrupted service, and competitive pricing?

Your work force and your customer base are both valuable elements in the success of your business.

When I was considering selling my business, I recall feeling trapped between the desire to sell (or at least put out some feelers to determine market interest) and the fear of the problems that the news of my potential sale might produce. So, I procrastinated and, as a result, missed many good opportunities.

I’m here now to tell you…

GET OVER IT! It’s your life and you have the right to pursue your Life Beyond Business.™

Confidentiality can be effectively managed.

First, don’t be in a hurry to sell. Take your time.

The process of selling a business moves at about the speed of a glacier. The harder you push, the more anxiety you will experience. This will, in turn, affect your state-of-mind and may have a negative impact on your business.

You and your business broker need to break the process down into manageable parts in your mind. Then chip away, bit by bit, toward your ultimate goal: the successful sale of your business.

Second, seek advice and assistance from professionals.

Create that short list of advisors with whom you can discuss the sale of your business in complete confidentiality.

Professional advisors are bound by a code of ethics that requires confidentiality.

If it would provide you more reassurance, create a short written agreement confirming that all discussions are confidential and that any breach of confidentiality will result in damages due. The professionals on your team should include your accountant, lawyer, a trusted advisor, and a business intermediary – commonly referred to as a Business Broker or Mergers & Acquisitions (M & A) Advisor. All meetings should take place away from your office to reduce speculation. Use private email, personal cell phone and your home address to protect the confidentiality of all communications.

While your accountant and lawyer are essential members of your team, the first advisor you may want to engage is a business broker or M&A advisor.

Why do you need a business broker?

The first step in the process is to determine if your business is sellable. The broker knows the market -that’s his or her job. You need to know is if there is a market for your business and, if so, what you can do to prepare your business so you can maximize the value of the sale.

At this point you are still miles away from actually putting the business on the market.

That’s my point:

Extensive groundwork must be done to successfully market and sell your business.

During this preparatory period, often the longest part of the process, maintaining confidentiality is crucial. Any questions that might arise from staff or customers who notice changes being made are easily explained as part of your ongoing efforts to improve operations and profitability. As an owner, that is what you should always be doing at all times!

Once the business is listed for sale, managing confidentiality becomes the responsibility of your professional business broker or mergers and acquisitions advisor.

This is a process with well-defined procedures to protect you and your business. A well-prepared business is most likely to sell quickly, limiting time spent on the market and minimizing the chance for a potential breach of confidentiality.

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