While some of us start our own businesses with the intention of seeing it through for the long-haul, others either foresee a definitive point of departure on the horizon from the outset, or reach a point at which they are ready to hand over the reins, and move onto something new. It may, of course, be the case that you no longer feel well enough to manage the business as you used to, and wish to ensure that it continues to thrive, rather than failing in your absence.
Whatever your reasons, preparing to sell a business represents a mammoth undertaking – one that requires plenty of thought, care, and due diligence in order to make certain that your decision will prove a positive one for you, the business’s employees, and the business itself.
For that reason, we have put together five tips for anyone preparing to sell their business and move onto greener pastures. Read more below.
Don’t lose sight of your employees…
As a business owner, one of the biggest responsibilities you have ever taken on is the one you hold to your employees. Both from a legal perspective, and from a more personable standpoint, your duties to ensure a safe, secure and stable working environment – and to ensure measures are always in place to ensure continuity and constancy – should not be overlooked amidst the personal disruption of selling your business.
Employees need to feel secure in their jobs; if they don’t, then the business itself will likely be the first to suffer. What’s more, employment law ensures a certain level of protection for employees in these situations, and the penalties for failing to fulfil your obligations as an employer can be severe.
…or the health of the business itself
Similarly, your responsibilities to the business itself cannot be overlooked. From making strong efforts to ensure strong publicity for your business’s transition into new ownership, to ensuring you do not drop the ball with regards to your business’s finances as you prepare to leave, this period of departure should not distract you from your ongoing responsibilities.
Make the necessary agreements
It goes without saying that selling a business is unlike any other sale we will make – and that protecting the interests of all involved means stopping to ensure a sound agreement is made between both parties at every new stage of the process.
A confidentiality agreement, for instance, is essential to making sure that discussions can continue without either party experiencing unwanted publicity. Similarly, a lock-out agreement can be made – thus ensuring a period of exclusivity, in which you enter into no other negotiations.
Prepare for paperwork
Agreements, warranties, indemnities letters, minutes and covenants all need to be written, revised, rewritten and signed before a business can be officially sold onto a new owner. Any number of seemingly small discrepancies or mistakes can cause major interruptions to the process – or even strained relationships between you and the buyer – so prioritising the paperwork, and ensuring that it is sound is vital.
Call upon legal expertise at every step
Anyone who owns a business, or has done at some stage, will know that there are plenty of situations and undertakings which cannot be managed effectively without sound legal advice from trusted corporate solicitors.
Selling your business is no exception to this rule. Not only is it essential that you get it right first time, but covering all your bases and ensuring every ‘I’ is dotted, and every ‘T’ crossed is near enough impossible if you are not backed by years of experience in this complex and highly specialised area.