If you are a business owner, I am willing to bet that you have asked yourself this question: “When should I sell my business?” The thought may even keep you up at night. If it does, you are not alone.
No matter the size, industry, or location of a business, owners worry themselves sick about finding the best time to sell a business. I know because I have been there, and my clients have been there. I have done the mental gymnastics myself. It goes like this: “Is now the best time, and I’m about to miss my chance – or worse, did I already miss the perfect window? Or is it too soon, and I’ll leave money on the table if I don’t hold off a little longer?”
All the worrying and questioning comes down to figuring out, “When is the best time to sell my business?” Or, to quote The Clash, “Should I stay, or should I go?”
I am going to offer you a key that will put an end to the mental gymnastics. This key will – hopefully – bring you confidence and maybe a little peace along with it:
You sell a business when you CAN. Not when things are perfect.
The market is impossible to predict. There are unknown risks at play that impact whether you can sell at all, much less at the highest possible price. If you are in your 60s or 70s, you have seen some of those “unknown risks” unfold in real time – like the crash of ‘08-’09 and, more recently, the pandemic. After those, let’s not even try to guess what could be next. If the market opens a window of opportunity, it is time to consider making your move.
The hope in waiting is that you can squeeze out a couple more years of income or that you can still grow the business just a bit so that you can sell it for more – even just a little would be worth it, right? Wrong. The problem is, you cannot assume the change will be in the direction you hope, and holding out for a little more can cost you a LOT.
“Fortunes are made by buying low and selling too soon.” – Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild
There are too many great things ahead of you to mess around with trying to squeeze the last nickel out of your business – especially when that last nickel could cost you all your nickels. Keep your focus on what really matters.
So, what really matters? That is not a question I can answer for you. I can tell you, however, that “what” really matters is usually a “who.” Your family or your own health and peace of mind. I can also tell you what does not really matter: finding the perfect timing, squeezing that last nickel out of the business, or trying to predict the future.
Opportunity > Timing
Opportunity is more valuable than timing; market timing increases risk, not opportunity.
Bottom line: if there is the opportunity to sell, better to sell “too soon” than to pass by the open window. As I heard a man quip a few years back, “All my rich friends sold ‘too soon.’” If you want to discuss your business and see where you stand, I would love to talk to you. Reach out today for a confidential consultation.
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