The Business Transition Blog

Business For Sale

This is a notice you’ll be seeing more frequently in the future. One showed up today in my local newspaper.

I can’t help it. As a lifelong entrepreneur and business coach, when I read this ad I look for what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m empathetic and curious.

Here are some clues.

  • “Buy the complete package…”
  • “Includes business, machinery, equipment, land and buildings…”
  • “The business has been closed since September 1 (six weeks ago) but prior to that it had been operating since 1969 and has many loyal customers…”
  • I looked up their company and the website is down.
  • Listing price $1,785,000

It’s unfortunate, but reading between the lines, I would guess the owner has died or become disabled and the survivors are forced to sell. The contact person is a real estate representative. The owner, or his/her estate is not going to get what they should have for the business.

Why do I say that? For a number of reasons:

  1. No offense to the real estate guy, but selling a business as a business is a lot different than selling a piece of real estate.  He may get a good price for it as a property, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to sell it for full value as a going concern unless he also has some good experience in selling businesses.
  2. If the business has been closed for six weeks, then the employees are gone. A business without employees isn’t worth very much.
  3. Customers have also been forced to seek another supplier. By the time a deal is struck with a new owner, customers will have had to buy from someone else for several months. The chances of them coming back are slim unless the location is really convenient and they are dissatisfied with their new relationship.
  4. If the owner is dead or disabled and they are only starting to sell the business now, it wasn’t ready to sell. He hadn’t done what was necessary to get it in shape. If he didn’t make it ready to sell, how can anyone else?

Is that what you want for your business or your survivors? What about your employees? If you own a business now and have not prepared for the transition or sale of that business, who do you think will?

There will be lots of ads, lots of headlines and articles in future news reports that tell the story of a business that is changing hands. If you could write just the headline for that story, what would it say?

“New owner takes over ABC and the founder is now focused on family time.”

“Son of ABC’s founder John Smith has been training and preparing for years to fill his shoes successfully.”

Write yours. Then develop a plan of action for preparing yourself and your business for that day.

If it would help to talk about it, give me a call. I like to help.