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Preparing for your business succession

An overview to ​Selling Businesses

Selling businesses is not as difficult as it may first appear.

Do you wish to reflect on several years of challenging work and harvest the value you have achieved in your business?

This is a key moment in your personal journey through life. There is a process leading up to this moment in your life when you leave the business you have created.

I collaborate with you and know that for many it is the one opportunity to realise your personal wealth embedded in your business. However, I do come across some business owners who have not prepared and are not ready for it. So, they are likely to lose out. particularly, where it is difficult to find buyers and a much lower price may have to be accepted. By reading this page and the others on this site, I hope you will gain an appreciation of the necessity of planning to attract a buyer, maximise the price and make the transaction go as smoothly as possible.

In these post-Covid times only the best businesses are going to be sold at a decent value. Standing out from the crowd is necessary to obtain the best offer and to do this the value of your business needs to be more in five years’ time than it is today.

So, do you want to know how sellable your business is?

If you are curious about having a health check on your business, start by taking this 10-question “Sellability Quiz quiz from John Warrillow, author of “Built to Sell”. If you would like to send it to me by email with the results of each answer, I will assess these and come back to you with my thoughts. There will be no charge for this service.

In my case, I ran an accountancy practice in north Hertfordshire. On my 50th birthday I decided I wanted to leave the practice by the time I reached 60. I set a plan in place and, although there were obstacles along the way which there inevitably will be, I achieved this and left the practice when I was 59.

Where does the process start?

It really starts with you and what you want to achieve. Once you have made the decision to do something you then decide whether that is by way of a sale, selling to management or whatever. When you have made that decision, the process can begin. It may help you to start the process by reading Where does the journey to sell my business start elsewhere on this website.

What are my options?

In succession planning, as in most things in life, there are options open to you. To find out more read the page on this site titled What are my Options.

Succession Planning

Selling businesses is not as difficult as it may seem. In order to do this you need to create a succession plan and a business separate from me. It’s a business journey that ends with you leaving it in some form or other.

In my experience it can be a simple plan – not reams of spreadsheets. In a couple of pages define a simple vision; setting out where you are Now and where you need to be in the Future. It maps out the journey setting times with key decisions-making points and defining what goes on by whom and when. The measures you need to achieve the vision are set out. Also, the strategies; actions; who by and when is really all you need.

Some entrepreneurs have an outright sale as the destination. This will be part of the plan when they set up their business. Indeed, they write the Information Memorandum on day one.

The Information Memorandum is a selling-tool. It is a harsh thing to say but it is. Its contents will enable potential purchasers to decide whether or not your business represents a suitable acquisition for them.

It must generate interest in your business and encourage the potential purchaser to meet with us and then make an offer for your business.

What do buyers look for?

In my experience buyers are looking for sustainable businesses. They will always look at the financial drivers, the owner’s involvement and customer concentration. They want cash, sales and, if available, Intellectual Property. That is, a profitable business.

These are the areas business owners need to work on if required. The value of a business and its attractiveness to a buyer lies in these key aspects – the profit generators.

Successful Exit

In my own and some of my clients’ experiences a successful exit occurs from careful preparation over months if not years. I do hope the path through this website will provide you with new perspectives on your business exit.

Best laid plans can go wrong

In this century, I have seen some catastrophic events. 9/11; the 2008 crash, Brexit and Covid -19. We are seeing fundamental changes in the retail sector and businesses with borrowings at a level which are unsustainable.

I am concerned for business owners who have 50-60% of their wealth in their business. If you have enough to retire comfortably, then why continue to retain it in your business. Is it sensible to risk it and prejudice your retirement fund?

In my paper on the website headed “What is the impact of the collapse of larger businesses on their smaller counter parts”, I set out some of the actions you can take to identify and mitigate the risks of such a collapse in your supply chain on your business and how to avoid it upsetting your plans,

So, how do you prepare for and go through the business exit process?

If you are at an early stage, then there are a number of issues to address. These will unlock the value in your business and to maximise its value and to make it more sellable.

Some of the key issues to address are set out in the note on this web site.

If you would like to read more about this subject, please click here.

Where does the journey to sell my business start?

The start date and how we go about it is largely personal. The answer depends upon the extent to which you are financially independent from your business. Where this is the case then I would consider with you one path; while another path maybe more appropriate if this is not the case.

If you would like to read more about this subject.please click here.

How do I maximise the value in a business?

There are several areas that require assessment but in essence it is the goodwill in the business which has a big impact on the value. Unlike most other assets, goodwill cannot be seen or easily converted into cash. It is something that your accounts do not show unless a business has been acquired in the past.

If you would like to read more about this subject.please click here

What makes a business more saleable?

There are the obvious attractions to a buyer when selling businesses – rising turnover; profitability and cash generation but there is a bigger picture here.

If you would like to read more about this subject please click here.

When is the best time to sell?

I normally answer this question by saying: “When you are ready”, since the business however good it is unlikely to sell unless you are ready. The commercial answer is not so simple and there are a number of questions which need to be answered to determine when the best time is. The answers to these questions as well as those about your personal circumstances will determine when it is the right time to sell.. 

If you would like to read more about this subject please click here.

Surprisingly, now (Autumn 2019) could be a good time to sell because of the three factors laid out in the paper Why now is a good time to sell my business, found elsewhere on this website.

Why do I need an adviser?

Some of the best advisers are those who have done it before. They can see the big picture but you do need someone who is familiar with the detailed process and can negotiate the best possible price usually by finding one or more interested parties. Appointing an experienced adviser will help you through the whole process, take away some of the stress you will be under and save you time and money at the end of the process.

If you would like to know more about this area…

How do I choose the right adviser?

Now this is a different question to why do I need an adviser.The choice here is about you and I. Do we get along? Does the chemistry work? Can you trust me?

If you go to the page choosing the right adviser on this website you can read more about why you should use my services; what it is that I do and how I build trust with you. 

How do I concentrate on running the business while trying to sell it at the same time?

While selling a business is not as difficult as it may first appear, it may become so unless it has been planned. Many people are involved and to maximise the value takes time during which the buyer can change their mind. Within the business itself, there can be issues with customers, suppliers and employees. Any one of these could delay the process. In order to be able to say the business is at least if not better than it was when you first started talking to the buyer is so important to avoid a deterioration in value over the period it takes to complete the transaction.

Where is my buyer likely to be?

It’s easy to value a business from the theories. It is entirely different achieving that value by finding the right buyer. The selection of the right buyer(s) to approach is crucial to achieving the interest in your business and it may be necessary to tailor or adapt it to suit the buyer when they come along.

What am I going to do afterwards?

Whether it’s playing golf, sailing in the West Indies, starting another business or looking after the grandchildren you must know how much money you are going to receive. Knowing the costs, your tax position and how much you are going to receive is crucial to you before you sign away your business.

I believe the fundamental question you need to ask yourself if you really do not want to retire once you have left your business is:

“Do I have the strength to become someone else?”


So are you ready?

You will see there are hyperlinks to the topics I briefly cover in the above note.

You may find my quick quiz “Am I ready to sell my business” which can be found here. You are welcome to complete it, there is no obligation and I will not see the results. You may find it of interest.

Have a look at some of these and then contact me as below and we can have a chat.

I look forward to doing this with you.

ABW Picture web site

Andrew Watkin

Andrew is the director of Assynt Corporate Finance Limited and an Accredited Member of the Association of Crowdfunding experts.

Previously a partner and head of corporate finance at Baker Watkin LLP, Andrew has more than 40 years of experience in all forms of corporate finance across many business sectors.

Andrew was the Chair of Governors at a local school for six years retiring in December 2020 and continues to be an Assessor of Expeditions for The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

You can find out more and connect with Andrew over on LinkedIn.

Need Help? Contact Andrew at Assynt:

If you are serious about selling your business, contact Andrew to arrange an informal chat, in person or over the telephone to assess the options open to you.

You can also contact Andrew by email at: or by completing the form on this page.

Call today on 07860 898452

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