Is Selling my Business like Selling my House?

The short answer is no and here is why selling your business differs from selling your house. Business owners are often looking to sell their business in the shortest amount of time possible. The sale of businesses is often compared to real estate sales and the expectation is often that the business will sell within a 30-60 day time frame. This is not an accurate comparison or expectation, and thus, it can take much longer to sell a business. Selling a business also differs from selling a house in  5 ways.

1. Confidentiality: When selling real estate, signs and advertising are prevalent stating “This Home is For Sale”. It is no secret that a home if for sale; however,  the sale of a business is highly confidential and no one knows the business is even up for sale. Buyers must be carefully screened before they are allowed to sign the Confidentiality Agreement which is required to provide the Buyer with the name, location, and summary financial information on the business. Only then, does that sole individual know that the business is on the market.

2. Uniqueness: Most houses in a neighborhood have the same square footage, floor plan, and blueprint. In contrast, no two businesses are alike. Your business has a unique culture: the employees, the customers, the products and services offered, and how you stand behind them separates your business from all of the others. Thus, it takes time to find just the right buyer to continue your legacy of success.

3. Financing: Banks love Real Estate. It is a tangible asset that strengthens their balance sheet, and can be easily resold within percentage points of the asking price. Financing a business is another matter. Most of the value of business is intangible and specialized lenders need to be utilized to finance the sale of a business.

4. Courage: Everyone needs a place to live and more than likely, at some point in time, will buy a home. The decision to leave the security of a job, with a 401K and benefits, to grab a hold of the American Dream of owning their own business, is a scary prospect. In truth, most will never take the leap.

5. Connection with the Buyer: When selling a home, you will almost never meet the buyer. Selling a business requires that the buyer and seller meet a number of times. Post-sale, the business owner will train the buyer and transition the business for weeks or months after the sale, depending on the complexity of the business.