Exit Strategy

How Long Will It Take To
Sell My Business?

By Josh Foo,

UPDATED:  August 22, 2019

The search for an exit strategy is the reason why business owners want to hire a broker. 

And 'How long will it take to sell my business?' is probably the number one exit strategy question that business owners ask. 

What they really want to know is, 'when can I exit the business?'

The business owner may already have vacations, holidays, retirement or the next business venture hinging on sale of the existing business.

'How long will it take to sell my business?' is the most difficult question a business broker will have to answer.

When it comes to a definitive exit strategy outcomes, there is no definitive answer - short of a crystal ball.  

Every business is unique in some ways and there is always an odd chance of a quick sale.  But the opposite is also true.  There is also an odd chance that a good business stays much longer on the market.  

The only 'person' that has the answer is 'the market'.  

Exit Strategy -- How much time is needed to sell my business?Exit Strategy -- How much time is needed to sell my business? Photo: Pixabay.com

While a business broker may have general statistics and data as a guide, the market can deviated wildly especially in today's market.     

The business broker could be stuck in an unenviable situation.

A 'goodbusiness priced correctly may still take longer than expected to sell.   The broker and the agency risks their reputation if they cannot sell the business within an expected deadline. 

Conversely a business priced incorrectly or even seen as difficult to sell may in the off-chance be sold quickly.  There are many reasons to buy a business, some more irrational than others.   There is no way for the business brokers to make any kind of firm predictions without the risk of being wrong.  

To create an effective exit strategy to sell your business, business brokers will first need to inspect and assess your business which may lead to some hard truths.   These hard truths are based on data and likely probabilities.  To ignore the science behind the sale is to place the sale of your business on luck.      

Hence, these six (6) criteria determines the probability of a quick sale: 

  1. Liquidity And Demand In The Business For Sale Market 
  2. Type of Business
  3. Competition For Buyers 
  4. Preparing The Business Ready For Sale
  5. Business Sale Price
  6. Time To Sell Business

Next ->  Criteria 1.  Liquidity And Demand In The Business For Sale Market 

Josh Foo contributed to this article

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