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Selling Your Business To One Of Your Employees: Pros And Cons

As a small business owner, an exit strategy should be a part of your strategic plan from day one. The key to being able to successfully sell your business is to establish a company that can run without you.

If you keep this in mind from the start, you can build the business accordingly.

As I am sure you know there are many options to consider when deciding how you are going to sell your business. Some people choose to sell it on the open market while others take a more personal approach like passing it on to family.

After investing years of time and talent into a company, many small business owners want to feel like they are leaving their business in good hands and for that reason, some sellers opt to sell their business to an employee.

An experienced employee can transition into a great business owner given the right tools and circumstances. If you are planning to sell your business and are wondering if you can sell it to an employee, my answer is yes! However, before you do, let's talk about the pros and cons to taking this route.

PROS

An Employee Will Know Your Business And Your Customers

When a small business is sold on the open market there is typically a need for the transaction to remain confidential until the deal closes.  Owners don't want to alarm customers and they don't want to see key employees run for the hills!  A benefit to selling your business to an employee is that they already know your company and your customers AND your company and customers already know them!  This can help ease the anxiety that comes along with the sale of a business and help to preserve the relationships it has in place.

This is also helpful when it comes to training and the actual transition of ownership. If you are grooming an employee to buy the business from you, you can pretty much teach them everything they need to know to run the company before a deal is in place. Not only does this help with the transition of ownership but it will also help your employee as the new owner feel confident about their decision to buy the business.    


Faster Sale

Selling a small business can take a long time. Not only can it take time to find the right buyer, it also takes time for the buyer to complete a thorough due diligence before they decide if they want to proceed with the purchase.  If the deal closes, you will probably have to provide some sort of training which will require you to stay involved in the company for even longer. This process could take months, even years, depending on your business and its complexity.  When you sell your business to an employee, this process will go much faster as you are able to cut out the whole process of finding the right buyer and training them once the deal closes.

CONS


Employee Credit Concerns

The biggest downfall to selling your business to an employee is that you may have to accept a lower price than you would get if you offered it on the business for sale market.  For one, an employee may not have the cash to finance the deal.  They may also not have the amount of credit built up that they need to finance a large commercial purchase.  With that, if you truly want to sell to them you may have to be willing to accept a lower sale price.

Seller Financing

Because of what I just mentioned above you may also need to offer more seller financing options than you would if you were selling to a third party. By doing this you are taking on more of a risk than you would be if you were working with someone else. Also, offering seller financing keeps you involved with the business to some degree and if you have to finance a good portion of the sale price, it could be years before you actually detached from the company completely and see the benefits of selling your business.

How To Prepare Your Business

The best way to prepare your business is to plan ahead.  As I said earlier, your exit strategy is something you should consider from the moment you buy or start your own business.  Doing this will give you an opportunity to put key employees in place, select the one or ones that you see potential in and groom them to be the next owner.

About The Author: Peter Siegel, MBA is the Founder & Advisor (ProBuy & ProSell Programs) at BizBen.com and BizBenNetwork. He works with potential business buyers, business sellers, brokers, agents, investors, & advisors. Reach him direct at 925-785-3118 to discuss strategies regarding buying, selling, (or financing a puchase of) small to mid-sized businesses.


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Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
William F. Ziprick, Attorney: Legal Services For Buyers And Sellers

Through creative problem solving, attention to detail, accessibility, & understanding that unnecessary delay is often a deal killer, I work closely with my clients and other professionals to consistently achieve a high rate of closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.

Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services In California

California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.

Shalonda Chappel: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California

Escrow services to brokers/agents, sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services. 951-808-3972.

Helen Yoo, New Century Escrow - Escrow Services In Southern California

Helen Yoo at New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.

Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - San Francisco Bay Area

McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.

Jaswant Pannu, Business Broker: Central Valley, SF Bay Area

Business brokerage services in the Central Valley.

George Hicks, Business Broker: Southern California

George Hicks is the founder of The M&A Brokers and is the Chief M&A Officer. He has been a Business Sales & Acquisitions specialist since 2002 and brings over 30 years of business experience to The M&A Brokers. George is a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) and a Certified Business Broker (CBB)

Michael Bernstein, Business Broker, at The Bellington Group

The business of buying or selling a business at fair market value requires extensive experience and a skilled team of professionals who are dedicated to saving you time and money. The Bellington Group is committed to the financially successful acquisition or sale of your business.


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