Preparing to sell your business

Choosing advisers when selling your business

Experienced advisers are essential for an effective sale. The right adviser can have a big impact on the success of your sale and the amount you receive.

Accountants, solicitors and tax advisers

You will need an accountant and a solicitor. The accountant concentrates on the financial aspects of the sale - like preparing accounts for the business. The solicitor focuses on legal issues - like drafting a sale agreement.

You also need to use a specialist tax adviser to handle business and personal tax planning. Your accountant may be a tax specialist, or may be able to introduce you to one.

For more information, see our guides on how to choose and work with an accountant and choose and work with a solicitor.

Brokers and corporate finance specialists

Most businesses choose to use a specialist business broker or corporate finance adviser. These are involved at an early stage to take care of:

  • producing credible sales documents
  • researching, finding and vetting potential buyers
  • pre-sale grooming
  • negotiating a sale on your behalf

These can all be very time-consuming - so the adviser can manage the whole process, leaving you free to continue running the business.

To find a suitable corporate finance adviser, do research, look for recommendations and check that a broker has the necessary experience and proven track record. You can start by asking your accountant or solicitor if they can recommend someone who specialises in your sector. Maybe a business acquaintance, friend or colleague has had a good experience selling their own business.

Making your choice and agreeing fees

Always examine advisers' skills and expertise carefully. For example, you should look at:

  • what experience they have of selling similar businesses and how successful they have been
  • how they can help you to market the business
  • what contacts they have among potential buyers
  • what references they can provide
  • what the fees involved are and what they cover
  • how they will keep a sale confidential

If you're using a firm of advisers, make sure you feel comfortable with the people you'll be dealing with. Make sure the firm you choose is suitable for your business. A specialist in selling fish and chip shops or pubs is unlikely to help sell a recruitment agency or precision engineers.

You will have to pay your advisers. Many advisers charge an hourly rate or up-front fees. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate a fixed rate for a particular piece of work. Some advisers, particularly corporate finance specialists and business brokers, are prepared to negotiate a success fee as part of their payment. For example, you might pay lower fees if you don't get your target price.

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