What makes a company attractive to buyers? How do you identify qualified buyers? Are there risks to selling a business on your own? How do you protect your interest when negotiating with potential buyers? You have probably asked these questions if you are a business owner looking to sell your company.
Business owners may pay to market their businesses online or use professional social media platforms to locate potential buyers. Others may also communicate to potential buyers by word of mouth or partner with business brokers with the experience and connections to complete the sale.
Whichever approach you choose, it is essential to ensure optimum confidentiality to protect your interest or that of potential investors, at least until the transaction is complete.
How Do You Attract Buyers to Your Business?
When you are looking to retire and sell your business, one of the first things you ask yourself is, how can you find someone who wants to buy your business? There are various creative ways to attract buyers, including advertising, marketing and direct contact.
We have compiled a few tips on ways to attract serious buyers to your business. Although the process can be complicated, which explains why most business owners save time and make more money by hiring a business broker, this guide offers an insight into what to do:
1. Learn About the Different Types of Buyers
There are four types of buyers— individual, financial, strategic and industry. Each category may differ in terms of how they view your company and how they may manage it after the sale. Learning about these distinct categories can help you make the most money from the sale and avoid those with marginal concerns. It also enables you to target those qualified and serious about doing business with you:
Here is what you need to know about each type of buyer:
- Individual: Individual buyers look out for two things — income and freedom. They seek to run a successful business and usually acquire companies with little to no risks. Individual buyers also prioritize businesses with good income and proven track records because they may need more resources and experience to grow a struggling company successfully.
- Financial: Financial buyers are professional investors whose primary goals are to achieve high returns on investments and develop an exit plan. They focus on revenue growth and cost-cutting to increase profitability. Financial buyers negotiate aggressively and tend to be interested in small to midsize businesses.
- Strategic: Strategic buyers acquire businesses due to a specific need, such as expanding or eliminating competition. They are usually interested in the company’s long-term growth and have no exit plan. Strategic buyers are also prepared to pay a control premium if they anticipate generating quantifiable synergies and may fully integrate the new business into their existing model.
- Industry: Industry buyers aim to merge with or acquire direct competitors but sometimes they may be the buyers that offer the lowest price. Sometimes an industry buyer may be looking to expand into a different geography and therefore may not be a direct competitor. Other times they may be a direct competitor in which case you might proceed with them but want to do so carefully. An experienced business broker can help you with this.
2. Establish the Highest Value
Attracting qualified buyers or selling your company with an unreasonable valuation is impractical. Various elements may affect how much your business is worth, such as the company’s financial history, cash flow, competitive advantage, customer base and brand loyalty, growth potential and intellectual property rights like trademarks and patents and licenses. A professional business broker can assess these factors carefully and name a price that reflects the actual value of your company. A professional can guide you through the negotiation processes and help to negotiate the best price for the sale of your business.
3. Market Your Business Online
There are multiple websites you can pay to market your business. Like most real estate agents list properties on platforms like Zillow, business brokerage firms list companies for sale on multiple listing sites. While we do this, we have our own listings of businesses for sale.
We email our list of interested buyers regularly, depending on what they are looking for, which is generally a large pool of entities ready to acquire businesses. If you market your business on listing sites, you can reach multiple buyers as well, but you won’t have access to a proprietary database of buyers and knowledge of which ones are most likely to move forward.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is typically reserved for companies that sell businesses. It might not be best for those willing to sell their own companies since it’s likely to be a one-time transaction. In other words, if you wish to complete the sale on your own, it’s better to use paid ads rather than relying on organic searches because your website may not be optimized for that purpose.
4. Be Transparent About Your Company
If you are transparent about your business and the product that interested buyers would be purchasing, you will be more likely to sell the business. However, it would be best to protect your confidentiality, so you only want to release information after a buyer has signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and provided some information on their qualifications.
After that, the more the buyer knows about your business and what is being purchased, the more likely they are to follow through with the purchase. So releasing the right information only to the right buyers is essential.
5. Highlight Your Company’s Strengths
The secret to selling a business is marketing its strengths and providing enough information to help buyers make informed decisions without compromising confidentiality and privacy. Ask yourself questions like “What is the business’s key strength?”, “What would make buyers interested in purchasing the company?” and “What makes the business different from others?” Take those key selling points and make them stand out when pitching your business to buyers.
Here is a classic example — say your company is engaged in the collection, packaging and distribution of clothes, shoes and other items. Let’s also assume it is the largest textile recycler and wholesale distributor of second-hand apparel and footwear in the southeastern United States market. Those are the points you want to highlight. You may also indicate the company’s annual revenue and net cash flow, potential growth, location and advantages the business has over competitors.
That way, qualified buyers can quickly decide whether to proceed with the purchase or move on to another transaction.
6. Try to Sell Your Business to a Competitor
This may not sit well initially, but your competitor may want to own your business. Attracting buyers to your business can be challenging, so reaching out to a buyer who is already interested in purchasing your business is a great idea.
You have to be careful when selling to a competitor. In some cases, they only want to learn about your business so they can use your methods to grow theirs. Therefore, it would be best to have a professional business broker to determine whether the competitor is serious and protect your trade secrets and other privileged information.
There are a lot of benefits to having a competitor buy your business. Competitors are likely to be familiar with the industry and may have been watching what your company does for some time, which gives them an idea of its strengths. In such instances, the sale can be straightforward.
You might receive the full price when you sell your business to a competitor because they know what they are purchasing and its value. In other cases, though, the competitor may try to lowball you and get your business for a steal. It’s important to talk with multiple buyers to get the total value for your business.
7. Target Business Owners and Corporate Ventures
If you do not have a direct competitor interested in your business, look for other business owners who might make a lateral business move. Pretend you are an electronics manufacturing company that creates parts for a computer engineering business. You could contact the owner of the computer engineering business and see if they would be interested in purchasing your company.
This would lower their business’s costs and cut out the middleman. They would be more interested in purchasing your business than other companies. But again, if you are doing this yourself, proceed with caution. It’s hard to maintain your confidentiality unless you have a business broker on your side. Only share necessary information — those sufficient to help the buyer make a decision and ensure it stays confidential.
8. Utilize LinkedIn to Attract Buyers
A creative way to attract buyers to your business is by utilizing LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social media network for professionals that can help you contact business owners directly and pitch your sale to them.
Attracting interested buyers for your company can be challenging, but going where business owners are is much easier with LinkedIn. Business Brokers can make these contacts without revealing your company’s identity, and the best business brokers will have thousands of LinkedIn connections to contact.
9. Hire a Business Broker To Find Buyers
Partnering with business brokers takes the load off your shoulders. They can help you through the entire process, from generating leads to closing the business sale.
Business brokerage firms typically have already-established connections, processes and networks designed to facilitate the sale. They usually know how to find qualified buyers committed to completing the transaction and can negotiate the best deals.
Can You Sell Your Business on Your Own?
You may sell a business on your own, but it comes at a risk. While you may be able to reach out and find interested buyers, it can be challenging to keep the transaction private. Employers and investors may be tempted to leave when they learn about the potential sale of the business, so get all involved in the engagements to sign an NDA. Keep the company’s identity discreet and release limited information to qualified buyers to help them decide. Consult a professional before contacting a potential buyer.
In addition, when selling your business yourself you are likely to leave money on the table because you aren’t likely to generate as many buyes as an experience business broker can.
Contact Synergy Business Brokers to Sell Your Business Confidentially
Engaging with potential buyers can be challenging and risky, so most business owners partner with business brokers to leverage their connections and protect their interests. Business brokers generally have the experience to attract the right buyers without compromising privacy.
Synergy Business Brokers is an award-winning mergers and acquisitions firm with years of experience in the industry. We provide end-to-end services, from marketing to negotiations and sales and can help you sell your business effectively. We have the system to attract interested buyers to your business confidentially and reach out to buyers already interested in buying a company. Contact us today to learn more!