There are many factors other than price that you should consider prior to selling a small business. Here are four legal tips to consider before you place your business on the market.
1. Be clear on what you are actually selling
The term “business” is very broad so when you decide to sell your business, be specific about what you wish to sell as the goodwill or value of your business may be spread through various assets of your business. You should also ensure that you own or have rights to sell that asset.
Business assets can be tangible or intangible. Tangible assets include land, plant, and equipment. Intangible assets are intangible, such as your business name, telephone numbers and your customer lists.
Make a list on what components of your business you wish to sell or more importantly, wish to retain.
2. Consider the future of your employees and other restraints
Many employers do not tell their employees that they are putting the business on the market. However, you should consider whether you want to ensure that the employees remain employed with the new owner or give them adequate notice. Conversely, if you are looking to open a new business elsewhere and wish to take key employees with you, this should be incorporated into your sale and you should be aware of any geographical restraints on competing with the business.
3. Training the newcomers and passing on trade secrets
Are you looking for a quick sale or are you happy to stay temporarily to train the new owners of your business? Staying on and training the new owners can add value to your sale and also ensure that the brand name you created is passed onto able hands. If there are any special recipes, formulas or methods you are passing on with the business, you do not want to disclose these until after the sale which makes the training period a suitable time to pass on your skills and knowledge.
4. Get professional assistance
Accountants can help ensure that your financial figures clearly reflect the financial performance and position of your business. Your financial reports are going to be an important indicator of how well your business operates. There will also be various GST, tax and stamp duty considerations which your accountant can advise you on.
Lawyers can help protect you and include, exclude or negotiate important terms in your sale of business contract. They will also be able to tell you what you can or can’t sell and how those assets are to be transferred to the purchaser. Throughout the course of your business, you will have entered into various long-term agreements that will need to be assigned or terminated. This ensures that your legal rights and obligations tied to the business are completely discharged after the sale.
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