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How to sell a business in the UK

10,000+ Potential Buyers
12,000+ Businesses Sold
60+ Years Experience
40 Offices Nationwide

Guide on selling a business using a business broker or business sale agent

Our selling a business guide will help you understand what to expect from the business sale process, how to prepare your business for sale and how to maximise sale value.  Selling a company often provides the only realistic exit route for shareholders of an owner-managed business to realise their investment. If you are planning a future sale due to retirement, to pursue other business interests, or to seek an alternative to company liquidation, planning early can help you maximise your chances to finding a suitable buyer.

It is wise to start by getting professional business brokers onboard to ensure the process runs smoothly. Enlisting business transfer agents can unlock access to a vast database of verified parties looking to buy a business and concentrate your efforts towards finding a suitable buyer with the required skills and industry experience to maintain profitability.

Selling My Business has a proven track record of advising owner-managed businesses on a broad range of transactions, including exit strategies and disposals. Our expert team can handle the business selling process and liaise with all relevant stakeholders to ensure investments are realised and a true value is achieved.

A range of factors will influence how much prospective buyers are willing to pay, including track record, future potential profit trends, market position, net assets, and commercial property values. Devising a clear exit strategy is fundamental and these three key questions should be considered at the outset - How much is your business worth? What are the possible exit routes? Will your business be attractive to potential purchasers?

We help to answer these questions through sound planning, careful considerations and a wealth of experience which has seen £500m worth of national business sales in the last ten years alone.

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Preparing your business for sale  

The most common options to sell a business are: through a sale to a competitor or new market entrant; a sale to the management team; an equity release - whereby a partial value is made to realise some value but a retained stake is held; or flotation, although this route is becoming far less common.

All these routes should be explored before deciding as to which is the most appropriate and would go furthest in meeting requirements from shareholders. We advise on all the pros and cons of a specific process, ensuring you are fully briefed on the path ahead and that there are no nasty surprises. We don’t just tell our clients what they want to hear; instead, we provide full transparency throughout and time the sale to maximise profits.

When it comes to assessing how attractive a business could be on the open market, potential buyers are likely to ask:

  • Is there a track record of sustained growth?
  • What is the value of company assets and liabilities?
  • How does the company balance sheet and cash flow rate?
  • Does the business have clear growth potential?
  • How key is the owner to maintaining the profitability of the business?

To present your business in the best shape, you will need to bring your financial reports up to date, streamline company operations, and arrange a financial health check with your accountant to ensure you are operating efficiently. The business preparation stage is essential as an organised business will mirror your competency as a business owner.


Finding a business buyer and conducting due diligence

Selling or buying a business consists of transferring a substantial financial and emotional stake to the buyer which is where due diligence is essential to instil confidence in both parties. Due diligence consists of taking all reasonable care to investigate the party you wish to trade with, including their reputation, financial position, commercial appetite, and involvement in legal disputes.

Arming yourself with this information can protect your commercial position, minimise financial risk and equip you with the information required to act in the best interests of your business and employees. Conducting due diligence can help reduce any unexpected delays and interruptions down the line.

At Selling My Business, we have a database of over 10,000 registered buyers to bolster our countrywide marketing strategy. Using an intermediary to find a buyer can speed up the process and facilitate a quick sale. A business broker can help arrange a business valuation, share knowledge invaluable to the sale process and intercede on your behalf to negotiate a sale.

Negotiating a sale

When negotiating a sale with a prospective buyer, your starting price or asking price will be determined by your company valuation. Our business sale agents will distinguish between proceedable buyers and those that are at the early stages of their fundraising efforts. The negotiations stage will determine your financial position post-sale and establish a professional benchmark underpinning your entrepreneurial efforts.

If the prospective buyer disagrees over the value of the business, you may negotiate an earnout agreement whereby the buyer will make an additional payment based on company performance. The route provides a middle ground as it erases the risk of overpayment for the buyer and underpayment for the seller.

After settling on a suitable sale price and finalising the contract agreement, our business brokers will guide you through to sale completion and help minimise interruption to your transaction.

For tailored advice around selling a business in a specific sector, choose from the sector guides below which currently cover over 15 core industries.


Download Our Latest Help Guide

Selling a business? Here are 10 key questions you need to ask to ensure you’re getting the right advice

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