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Professional advise is a must

Gone are the days when businesses are sold on limited information. Today, one of the biggest problems buyers and sellers have during the business sales process is overconfidence. The self-righteous belief that they are correct and that buyers and sellers will believe what they are told.
Now all stakeholders have become more sophisticated and will review all information, make market analysis and take professional advice.
It is important to find a professional adviser, who you can trust and whose approach matches your ambitions.

 

Challenges when selling a business

One challenge when managing a business sale/purchase process is to know whose advice to take. There are a large number of advisers that deal with business transactions and unfortunately not all of them are professional and responsible with the advice they provide.

 

In addition, business sales are an area where everybody has an opinion. Trying to follow the suggestions of friends, family or colleagues can be a problem, (while they will have your best interests at heart) they are not professionals, and unfortunately can be drawn as easily into myths and fashions as anyone else.
Business advice is still under-regulated. There are no minimum standards of service, or agreed expectations for professional conduct, or even an agreed minimum standard of qualification for entry into the business sales sector.

 

Given these concerns, a business owner or buyer is best advised to seek an adviser they can trust, understand and works for a common objective.
Ideally advisors should have recognised qualifications, and work in independent institutions not tied to a particular provider.

 

The business sales process

1. When trying to find a business advisor, start with referrals from other professionals, such as personal lawyers or bankers. Referrals can also be received from other small business owners or trusted individuals.

 

2. Make a list of questions to ask before calling any advisors. These questions can include: What are your qualifications in your area of expertise? What are your fees? Do you have references? These are questions that can help qualify if a potential advisor is a good fit.

 

3. Once an advisor is found a consultation meeting should be arranged. These advisors will preferably be qualified, have fees that you can afford, and must be able to provide you with references. Make sure that both you and the potential advisor set aside plenty of time for an interview (1-2 hours).

 

4. During the consultation meeting with the advisor, ask: Are you capable of achieving a particular outcome? How does financial information and records get transferred (hard copy or electronically)? What software will I need? How will you help me? What other services can you provide? Why should I choose you as my business advisor?

 

5. There will be other questions and discussion that are specific. A written list of questions should be prepared to take to the meeting. At request, a good potential advisor will be able to send out some information before the meeting.

 

6. A decision should not be reached until all potential business advisors that meet your expectations are interviewed. Some advisors have better deals or have better networking connections than others.

 

7. Business advisors are important. They will have access to confidential information and will be a valuable resource for solving or avoiding business problems down the road. If after completing this process you still are interested in more than one potential advisor, request a second interview, and ask more in-depth questions.

 

Range of solutions

There are a wide variety of places to seek professional advice. You could start with your bank. Typically, advisers at banks operate in a highly regulated environment. They tend to be cautious in the advice they offer, given the importance of reputation in this sector.

 

However, banks cannot always offer the range of products and scope of services that other professionals can. The advantage that other professionals have is that they are not tied to a specific set of products, so they can easily match your needs to a range of solutions.

 

Below is a list of potential advisors and services commonly offered by professionals that can help sell or purchase a business.

 

Business accountant provides tax planning, financial advice, and business consultation. They can scrutinize the financial records of a business.

 

Bookkeeper is responsible for keeping records and documents of a business.

 

Solicitor is a legal professional that handles all legal documentation involved in buying or selling a business. They will tell a buyer or seller their legal obligations and rights under a sale agreement.
Business broker is a professional or firm that acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers of businesses and their intermediaries. They can act for either the buyer or the seller. They understand the requirements of all professionals involved and will help broker a deal. Many business brokers offer additional services in relation to finding a business, marketing, negotiations, valuations, appraisals and writing information briefs.

 

Valuer is a person qualified (by a reason of education, qualification and experience) to provide a professional and unbiased opinion of value using established valuation methodology.
Financial advisor (including banks) is a professional or firm who renders investment advice and financial planning services to individuals and businesses. Ideally, the financial advisor helps the client maintain the desired balance of investment income, capital gains, and acceptable level of risk by using proper asset allocation. Financial advisers use stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures, notes and insurance products to meet the needs of their clients.

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