Financial Insights

Top 10 things to do whilst selling your business

21st Feb 2024

6 minute read

Mariel Diez

Mariel Diez

Head of content

Compare Wealth Managers

Ann-Marie Atkins

Ann-Marie Atkins

Managing Partner

Evelyn Partners

Stewart Sanderson

Stewart Sanderson

Senior Private Client Director

Brooks Macdonald

Saisha Penny

Saisha Penny

Private Client Manager

Brooks Macdonald

Rosie Bullard

Rosie Bullard

Partner ‑ Portfolio Manager

James Hambro & Partners


Take time to consider the best exit strategy for you and the business


Selling your business is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and execution. We've talked to several financial advisers to compile a list of the most important aspects to consider when exiting your business. They emphasize the importance of preparation and strategic decision-making throughout the process, with the right team guiding you before, during and after the entire operation.

Embarking on the journey of selling your business is a significant step in your entrepreneurial career. As you prepare for the transition, it's crucial to be aware of the complexities and challenges that come with the process. To guide you through this complex journey, we've compiled a comprehensive guide with insights from financial advisers. Here are the 10 key steps to keep in mind:

1. Build Strong Relationships with Advisers Early On

Develop a comprehensive team of skilled legal, accounting, and wealth management professionals to guide you through the sale process."Entrepreneurs need to take time to meet a range of advisors and establish with whom they would like to work. The relationship and trust are essential" remarks Rosie Bullard, Portfolio Manager and Partner at James Hambro and Partners. Make sure you surround yourself with trusted people who can accompany you throughout the entire process.

2. Invest in a Comprehensive Business Plan

"Invest in a (business) plan with both a short-term and a long-term strategy... Ask yourself why you are selling your business and build your plan after that." Stewart Sanderson, Senior Private Client Director at Brooks Macdonald, reminds us that looking at the whole picture is a must at this stage.

Craft a business plan that aligns with your short-term and long-term goals, ensuring clarity on why you are selling and how the sale fits into your overall strategy.

3. Consider Business Continuity and Pre-Sale Planning

Undertake legal and accounting due diligence, surplus cash extraction, and develop a business continuity plan, ensuring that both personal and business considerations are thoroughly addressed. As Ann-Marie Atkins, Managing Partner at Evelyn Partners., remarks: "Both the business and the owner should be in a strong position to start discussions if the necessary pre-exit reviews, planning, and structure have been completed."

4. Evaluate and Choose the Right Exit Strategy

Leaving the company you've built can be a difficult step to take, which is why Ann-Marie Atkins recommends taking time to consider the best exit strategy for you and your business, "whether it's an external exit, structured exit, or family succession."

Explore various exit strategies, such as trade buyers, private equity, employee ownership trusts, management buyouts, or family succession, and align them with your post-exit plans.

5. Plan for the Unexpected and protect your business

Acknowledge that not everything may go as planned, and maintain open communication with advisers to discuss potential scenarios. "Don't be afraid to take your time... Education is key.", acknowledges Stewart Sanderson.

Educate stakeholders, especially family members, about wealth management and involve them in smaller investment portfolios to build financial literacy.

Saisha Penny, Private Client Manager at Brooks Macdonald, reflects on the importance of business protection, particularly during selling. “If you are on your two-year plan to exit and something unexpected unfortunately happens to you during that period, what happens to your business, does it disappear? How does that affect your family?” Saisha suggests thinking about protecting your company from an early stage, even before considering selling: “There can be some short-term protection requirements, such as having a power of attorney or an appointed executor. When life throws the unexpected at you, halfway through a business transaction, your lawyer or your spouse can act for you”. Everything you need to know about Business Protection is summarized in this article.

6. Strategic Planning Across Three Crucial Stages

There are three crucial stages to selling your business: Pre-sale, Exit, and Post-sale. Each requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Before initiating the sale, explore your options and formulate a detailed exit strategy during the pre-sale stage (more on how to prepare before selling here). Execute your strategy during the exit stage, ensuring optimal value and involving the right advisers. Post-sale, focus on protecting yourself, managing funds, and maximizing future opportunities.

7. Business Valuation: The Key to a Successful Sale

To get the best deal for your enterprise, business valuation is key. Engage your entire legal and accounting team to ensure a thorough business valuation. This step is crucial for attracting the right partner at the right price, aligning with your personal objectives and providing a strong foundation for the sale process.

8. Market Analysis and Timing

Often the best time to sell your business is when the financials are on the up, sales are booming, the team is strong and demand is high. It may be difficult for you personally to leave when your business is thriving, but it's also when it's most attractive to potential buyers. However, this is also an important factor to consider when deciding what to do with the proceedings.

Conduct a thorough market analysis, considering the local economy, market conditions, industry trends, and whether the market favors buyers or sellers. Timing is critical, and selling when the business is at its peak can significantly impact the valuation.

9. Financial Planning for Post-Sale Proceeds

After selling your business, careful financial planning is essential. Rosie Bullard advises setting out a financial plan as to how the excess proceeds can be invested. Work with your financial adviser to develop a plan, ensuring a sustainable financial future and avoiding undesirable outcomes, especially in volatile market conditions.

10. Life After Selling: Crafting Your Future

The exit may be complete, but have you considered what comes next? Plan for your life after selling the business. Discuss your goals and timeframes with your financial adviser, assess your risk tolerance, and explore options such as investing, charity work, or taking a break. Consider creating charitable trusts for additional tax benefits and plan for a smooth transition of ownership to support employees and maintain customer relationships.

By following these five essential steps, you can navigate the complexities of selling your business with confidence. Remember, the sale is not just a financial transaction, it's the legacy of your entrepreneurial journey. Plan meticulously, consult your financial adviser early on, and set the stage for a successful business exit.

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