Scripts are for Closers


Selling Your Business? Avoid These Mistakes!

Selling a business is not as straightforward as selling a house. After all, a company is a complex organism, and only some (or maybe none) of the value lies in physical assets. I’ve built and sold multiple businesses in my 30+ year career. In those first sales, I learned from my mistakes. And after a few hard knocks and some intensive research, I now know there’s a better way. If you’re considering selling your business now or in ten years, this article can help you avoid common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Doing It Alone

Most of us don’t sell companies very often, so very few entrepreneurs are experts at selling firms. That’s why so many business owners bring in a few professionals. Start before the sale by hiring an experienced business valuation expert. They will assess the firm to determine the fair market value. This valuation gives the owner an idea of how much the enterprise is worth “as is” and should also provide pointers to improvements that will increase the size of future offers. Often, with a few small improvements, you can substantially increase your market value.

Your financials will be held to a very high standard during a sale, so even minor errors or omissions can cause big problems. A reputable accounting firm with experience in business mergers, sales, and acquisitions, can help your internal accounting team compile financial statements and documentation in sale-friendly formats. Accounting consultants will help the team create, modify, or clarify income statements and balance sheets, catch errors, and ensure financial records and documents are above reproach.

Corporate law attorneys specializing in sales and acquisitions can handle legal or regulatory situations that may affect a potential sale. In addition, those same lawyers should be on hand to review contracts and agreements, such as leases and vendor contracts, to ensure they are transferable to a new owner.

Mistake  #2: Choosing the Wrong Type of Sale

Business sales can be structured in a variety of ways. Each type of sale has its own benefits and drawbacks. So, make sure you’re working with a business consultant and a corporate attorney who understand sales and acquisitions.

We’ve listed the most common sale structures here.

Private Equity Firm

These buyers usually have the financial resources and expertise to grow a business. However, a private equity firm may have a short-term investment horizon, which means they are focused on maximizing their return on investment rather than maintaining the long-term viability of a company.


An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) enables employees to purchase shares in the company over time. Employee ownership rewards staff members and ensures that the firm is run by people who are invested in its success.

An employee ownership consultant may be required because the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of the Department of Labor and the IRS’s Internal Revenue Code section 404(a)(3) govern ESOPs, so deviations from the prescribed process, intentional or accidental, break federal laws.


While it may seem simple to pass on the family business, it’s important to formalize the process to address legal considerations and prevent anyone from contesting ownership. The transfer should be formally documented and detail valuation, taxes, and ownership structure.

Individual Sale

If an individual wants to buy the business, the process should start with a letter of intent (LOI) outlining the proposed terms for sale. Owners should also qualify individual buyers before moving forward by conducting background checks.

Selling to a Competitor

Your business may have the most value to your competitors. These types of sales usually require the seller to agree to non-compete clauses, which may limit their ability to run businesses in the future.

Mistake #3: Not Hiring a Consultant

It’s easy to view consultant fees as an expense, but when it comes to selling a business, their role is to minimize risk and maximize the asking price. Good consultants are not cheap, but their recommendations can protect owners from legal and financial threats. A consultant’s recommended improvements to the business can add millions to the asking price. And accountants’ contribution to bookkeeping can prevent costly delays or dropouts. When you look at the bigger picture, you can’t afford to keep them out of the process.

Want to learn more about how to get your business ready for a profitable sale? Contact 7 Stage Advisors today and start talking about your business.