Selling a business is an exciting process. There are several important steps that you need to take to ensure you secure the right purchase price and buyer for your business. Connecting with the right professionals can mean the difference between achieving your goals and missing out. This article explains the role of three professionals you should engage when selling a business: 

  • an accountant; 
  • a business broker; and 
  • a lawyer.

Clarifying Your Goals

Before taking your business to market and engaging these professionals, it is important to start thinking about why you would like to sell. If you are looking for a quick sale, the process of marketing and preparing will be shorter and more efficient. On the other hand, if you are looking for the highest possible price, you will probably be more willing to extend the preparation phase. 

Answering the following questions can help with organising your goals before preparing to sell your business:

  • What is your ideal purchase price?
  • What is your ideal timeline for sale?
  • Do you want to keep a role in the business after the sale?
  • Do you want the business to grow before you look to sell, or stay the same size?
  • Are there any assets that you wish to retain during the sale?

The Legal Stages of Purchasing a Business

After clarifying your goals, you should also consider the different stages of selling your business so that you can align yourself with the right network of professionals throughout the process. 

Generally, the sale of business process involves the following steps:

  1. an offer to purchase is negotiated and accepted;
  2. the sale of business contract is prepared; 
  3. the sale of business contract is negotiated, finalised and signed; and
  4. settlement. 

The type of assistance you need will depend on where you are in the sale journey. It is common to engage these professionals in the early stages of the sale to ensure that you are set up for success. This also allows you to ask questions as the sale moves along.

An Accountant

A good accountant will provide ongoing assistance throughout the process. You may already have an accountant to help you with bookkeeping and tax. However, it is worthwhile to consider seeking an accountant with experience selling a business to ensure you are in the best hands. 

When looking to sell a business, an accountant can offer a range of helpful services, including:

  • preliminary valuation of the assets, goodwill and property of the business to help assist you with choosing a sale price;
  • tax advice;
  • organising and structuring the deal, including which assets should be included or excluded;
  • preparing and consolidating profit and loss statements; and
  • financial projections.

How Do I Find a Good Accountant?

Not every accountant specialises in the process of selling a business. In addition, not every business sale is the same. 

You should search for an accountant who:

  • has experience with business sales and purchases; 
  • has worked with other businesses in the relevant industry (e.g. hospitality); 
  • is capable of assisting you during the financial due diligence process;
  • can assist with financial modelling and cash flow projections; and
  • provides sound overall business strategy advice.

A Business Broker

You will probably involve a business broker early on in the transaction and stay in contact with them throughout the deal. Brokers act for the vendor and assist in finding a buyer for the best price. They can also assist with marketing the business, preparing it for sale and negotiating with the various parties to the deal, including the purchaser and their lawyer.

A business broker is also a valuable source of information about the market. They can advise on the viability of your asking price, the state of the market and suggest a timeline for the sale.

How to Find a Good Business Broker

A good business broker will have experience in the industry, provide fair terms for their cut of the deal and have great connections to potential buyers. Sometimes, the best way to find a good broker is through your network, and often your accountant or lawyer will be able to connect you with a registered business broker.

A Lawyer

A lawyer with experience in business sales and purchases will provide you with legal advice throughout the sale process. A business lawyer can help you: 

  • prepare your business for sale (organising the relevant documents and business structures);
  • prepare the heads of agreement and sale of business agreement; 
  • provide legal advice about the terms of the sale; the risks involved, and your legal obligations throughout the process;
  • negotiate the terms of the deal on your behalf;
  • exchange contracts; and
  • fulfil your obligations at settlement.

Your lawyer can assist you with at each stage of your sale journey and will often be your first port of call for questions about the sale.

What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Your lawyer will play a crucial role in the process of selling your business. You should find a lawyer that you trust, and who has experience in the area. Essential qualities of a good lawyer include:

  • experience in the sale and purchase of businesses of a similar size;
  • a general understanding of the relevant industry (e.g. retail);
  • a commitment to collaborative, rather than combative, negotiation;
  • a commercially-minded and practical approach;
  • a willingness to work on a fixed-fee basis where possible; and
  • excellent communication and responsiveness.

Key Takeaways

Selling your business can be a rewarding process and the culmination of years of hard work. Connecting with the right network of professionals and leveraging their experience can put you in the best possible position to maximise the sale price and achieve your goals in the sale. Finding a good lawyer, business broker and accountant is a step in the right direction. If you have any questions about selling your business, get in touch with LegalVision’s sale of business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

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