By Hamish Morrison, Joint Managing Partner, BHP


Deciding to sell a business is probably the most important decision an owner will make.

For most people, it is about more than just realising the financial gains from years of hard work.

Finding a good home for the business where the company and its employees can continue to flourish is a key consideration for many owners.

Whilst every deal is different and needs to be handled in its own way, there are common mistakes that should be avoided by everyone.

Poor or no preparation

The earlier you start your preparations, the easier it is to fix things early. Working with advisors a few years in advance will help you to not only maximise interest and the value of the offers received, but also reduce the risks of price chips or a deal failing to complete.

No exit plan

Leaving things to chance or reacting to a cold approach is less likely to result in you achieving the optimal exit. A good exit plan will consider how the business is likely to be valued and what factors may make it more attractive. It’s also an opportunity to review the quality of your succession plans and how key staff have been factored in, and if you don’t want to work post-deal how you can take steps to secure this with the buyer.

Make sure current performance is maintained during the process

Selling a business is time-consuming and immensely distracting. It is very common for trading to suffer. A sales process is about building confidence in the company and future forecasts, so it is vital to try to avoid taking your eye off the ball. A good corporate finance advisor will take ownership of the process allowing you to focus on the business.

Find a great advisor, not a sales agent with a slick marketing machine

Selling a company is an intense and complex process and there is a huge amount of skill in ensuring a deal completes. It is vital you find someone who has the skills to delicately manage the numerous negotiations and commercial points which will arise. You want to work with someone who is not only skilled and experienced at identifying and extracting the highest offers for your company but who cares about the process as much as you do and who you know you can have frank and honest conversations with.

Have you read our other stories in the Top 50 SME series?

Have you read our other features in the Top 50 SMEs series?

What it takes to make it on to the list of top 50 SMEs

A large number of new entries includes three in the top five

SMEs once again lead the way

Award-winning firms are the fabric of Bradford’s success

Why SMEs provide a great place to work

Firm is tailor-made for the top spot in SME list

Why R&D tax relief is not just for scientists

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