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  • Writer's pictureEric Williams

When selling a business, perfection is not required

While I am a strong advocate for being as prepared as possible for a business sale, I also know that some business owners hesitate to engage a business broker or investment banker to attempt a sale because they recognize issues and imperfections that they believe first need to be remedied. While there are, indeed, some issues that will significantly impact marketability, others may not.

No business is perfect - all are in a state of imperfection, with continual improvement possible. If you perceive that your business has to be perfect in order to attract a buyer who will pay a good price, you may be wrong. In fact, trying to present a business as being "perfect" can actually impair the marketability of the business.

Here's why:

  • Many business buyers want to acquire a company that they can improve by using their talents, skills, and ideas. If the business is positioned as being perfect then it may be difficult to determine how to improve it.

  • It is extremely important to establish trust with a buyer to get a business sale closed. If a buyer asks about problems or business weaknesses and the business broker or seller responds that there are none, it may cause the buyer to question the seller's transparency & integrity.

  • If a buyer believes that there aren't any obvious improvements that can be made to the business, it may actually result in a lower price since there may be less potential for future financial up-side.

A business buyer who has looked at other businesses will understand the realities of business ownership and won’t expect perfection. Instead of marketing the business as being perfect, a better approach is to share weaknesses of the business but position them as fixable problems and opportunities. A good business broker or investment banker can provide perspective on what should be fixed in advance of a sale, and what might be better to leave as-is for the next owner to fix.


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