1. Know why you want to sell your business. Having a solid reason and a committed resolve to a sale is essential in achieving a successful transaction. In addition, one of the first questions buyers ask is, "Why is the owner selling?" They want to know that it is for a good reason and not because there's something wrong with the business that might be hiding in the shadows.

2. Know what you will do with your time after your business sells. If you don't have a plan in mind, you might find yourself getting cold feet or feeling a little off balance when that first offer to buy the business comes along.

3. Know the value of your business. Get a business valuation by a reputable firm to understand what you could expect in the current marketplace. This is an initial step in determining if the sale would meet your objectives.

4. Know that you are current on all taxes. This includes sales taxes, unemployment taxes, payroll taxes, state income taxes and federal income taxes. Delinquencies in taxes of any kind can stop a deal in its tracks.

5. Know that all your policies, employee records, procedures and controls are documented. This helps a buyer feel confident that operations will continue to run smoothly under new ownership. These documented items will also help during the transition period when you train the buyer.

6. Know that your business can operate without you if necessary. A key employee or a staff who can run daily operations is more appealing than a business that is highly reliant on the owner's presence or is dependent on the owner's personal relationships with customers. This will bring more prospective buyers to the table because of the flexibility it provides. There are buyers who want to play a major role in the daily management of the business and some buyers who do not. Many businesses never get sold if the owner "IS" the business.

7. Know that your financial statements and tax returns are accurate. Deals can fall apart when discrepancies are found or distrust has a chance to percolate.

8. Know that your trusted advisors will be able to assist you in the transaction. A meeting with your attorney and/or accountant, for instance, will play a role in gathering all necessary documents for your business broker before going to market. Your team of trusted advisors needs time for preparation in order to effectively support you in the transaction.

9. Know that you have a business growth and marketing plan that will help a new owner understand where opportunities exist and what could be done to take the business to the next level.

10. Know that your asking price is based on reality...a reality that buyers and their lenders can believe in. The buyer will look at return on investment and their lenders will require that the deal makes sense in terms of debt repayment. A multiple of Discretionary Earnings is one method that can be used to establish a reasonable price range.

11. Know that you are willing to negotiate on price, terms or both, if necessary. Deal structure can make or break a transaction. When each party to the transaction is willing to be flexible, the odds are good that the effort will have the desired result -- a win for both parties.