Selling a Business is Like Dating

Jeff Cornwall has an excellent description of what it’s really like to sell your business:

If the flirtation process of the inquiry moves ahead, next will often come some sort of letter of intent. This is kind of like a promise to go steady. Both parties agree that they are seriously interested in seeing if this can move ahead. Often there is a promise of exclusivity required, but most sellers try to avoid this to keep the buyer honest and hopefully drive up the selling price with a little good old competition. More often than not, the buyer prevails in this and the seller has to promise not to entertain other offers, at least for a little while. Somewhere in this stage the basic form of the deal starts to take place. There are confidentiality agreements that allow the buyer to get enough information to float a trial offer. Remember, the deal almost never gets better for the seller past this point, so this is where you need to negotiate hard. About 50% of the deals that get to the inquiry and deal formation stage fail to make it any further. (If you are keeping score, we are now down to 5% of those initial inquiries still being active).

Photo by Bradley….

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