Waiting… to Sell Your Business

selling your business
Small business owner dilemma - should I sell my busines now or later?
I just had a birthday.  Yeah I know – so What…  But celebrating a birthday when you are “Middle Age” by most definitions and or “old” by my teenage daughters definition a little introspection is done.  Fact is I’m not getting any younger.  As a  business broker based in Florida  it also makes me think of all the business owners that are getting older and maybe are or have been ready to sell their business but the bad economy has delayed that decision. Another year passes, the “recession” is still with us and it really looks like it will be with us next year and maybe beyond.

How long can a business owner wait to sell their business?  What if this down economy last 2, 5, 10 years.  I am generally an optimistic person.  I started and owned a business for 20 years and during the lean years I continued to see the glass as half full, and fought thru some difficult years and successfully sold my business when I was ready.

I believe there are many business owners that had planned to have exited their business by now.  Maybe they planned to sell their business and begin enjoying “that retirement thing” they have heard of, but had to delay those plans due the the reduced value of their 401k and other investments, the reduced equity in their home, and the lower revenue and profit of potentially their biggest asset – their business.

It’s easy and common to say “I want to sell my business but I don’t want to sell it now when my business is down.”   I understand that thought process. But I think from here is where the thought process becomes more difficult.

Considerations should include:

  • What if we remain in a prolonged recession – can I wait 3-5 plus years?
  • What happens in our world of supply and demand. Is a pent-up supply when released, going to affect prices/values downward as the increased supply hits the market?
  • Is there really this large number of baby boomers looking to exit businesses and move into retirement to further flood market and affect supply/demand price?”
  • Maybe I’m told I should wait… Ive been working for 20-30 years towards this “end game”, do I really want to wait?

As a business broker in Florida, maybe some day I will go to a meeting of business owners and not hear stories about a foreclosure that one is going thru or their friend is going thru.  Maybe I will attend a seminar or educational session put on by bankers or SBA bankers that doesn’t sound empty and completely disconnected by their purported audience – the small business owner, that needs financing or entrepreneur that wants to  buy a business.  This may happen, but its not going to happen tomorrow.  But how many tommorows is it going to take?  How many more birthdays will pass before the time is right to sell your business?