How do I sell my business confidentially?
Selling a business confidentially takes discretion and patience. Often times when business owners decide to sell they just think selling a business is like selling a house. It is not. Buying or operating a business is not for everyone and when an owner is ready to sell they need to have patience in the process. Selling a business privately requires you to think about how you can describe your business highlights including profitability, asset value, market, without giving away the name and location. When you prepare your business profile to market you want to put together every imaginable thing that would make you want to buy the business without giving away the name and location.
Often times business owners are paranoid about employees, customers, vendors, and landlords finding out a business is for sale, often times it is not a big deal, but then there are times it can be a complete disaster. Employees are employees for a reason, customers generally don’t find out unless you put a for sale sign on the front door or you are a very well know business and a story runs, vendors just want to sell you what they have while they can, and landlords just want the rent checks to keep coming in. This is obviously a generalization and each and every business may have different reasons for keeping things confidential especially when extreme loyalty to the owner comes into play.
We have heard of cases with restaurants for example where it leaked that it was being sold and the owner was terrified only to have monthly sales double in three months because all the loyal customers wanted to eat before it closed. This gave the business more value and ultimately had a positive impact on the sale. The reality is in most turnkey situations is the owner that comes in might want to improve the business but if you have good employees, vendors, etc.., they aren’t going to make huge changes initially.