How to sell a business in HoustonProper planning for the sale of your business is key to an enjoyable sail into your next adventure in life.

Surfs up! A wave of business buyers has flooded the Houston marketplace looking to take part in its promising future economic growth. Houston is booming and is ranked #3 best Metro Area for business.

Texas is home to almost one million privately-held small businesses with revenues under $100 million and less than 500 employees. As the largest city in Texas, Houston is home to one quarter of those small businesses (Source: InfoUSA) and it is estimated that less than 50 percent have had a change in ownership in the last 15 years. For many of these business owners, developing and executing a timely exit strategy is key to achieving the rewarding outcome they expect.

As 80 million baby boomers around the country move toward retirement, more than 7 million business owners are expected to exit their businesses over the next 10 to 15 years. Some fortunate business owners have family members or employees who are willing and able to step in and take over the operation. For many others, the only way to realize the value of the company is to sell it.

Business owners with profitable companies and the desire to sell can always find demand, especially in today's Houston marketplace. Buyers are particularly attracted to companies with upward trending revenues, strong gross margins, loyal customers, and experienced employees. But even owners of the most attractive businesses should follow these steps in order to maximize the benefits of a sale:

Plan Ahead and Develop a Strategy
The decision to sell can have a profound impact on your financial position, career, and lifestyle. Moreover, consummating a sale requires a significant investment of time and energy. Planning the sale in advance helps ensure that the sale occurs at the right time. The goal should be to sell when the market is generally favorable, the business is growing, the employee base and/or management team is stable and — perhaps most importantly — when you are ready based on your personal and financial objectives.

Maintain Confidentiality
It is important that employees, competitors and customers not be aware of the sale until it is nearly completed, with a solid contract in place. Consequently, the sale process should be run in a manner that minimizes disruption to the company and protects your privacy.

Package the Business Properly
Time must be invested to develop a high-quality, comprehensive document that describes your business, its background and its future potential. Any negative issues about the business should also be disclosed. Disclosure will reduce litigation risks, add to your credibility with potential buyers, and save time by eliminating those who are unwilling to accept the realities of the business.

Target the Right Prospective Buyers
The goal in the marketing process is to engage multiple qualified buyers. A proactive targeted search for prospective buyers who have the skills, aspirations and resources to grow your business substantially is one method that business brokers routinely utilize. Recognize that buyers who fit this profile may be willing to pay more than others; consequently, the buyer that may have approached you directly might not be the ideal acquirer.

Assemble an Experienced Team

Your accountant and your attorney will play key roles and their expertise will be invaluable in consummating a successful transaction and reducing your risks. A successful business brokerage firm (also known as business intermediaries) directs the sale process while you remain focused on running the business. Before choosing a business brokerage firm, make certain that they have a marketing methodology customized for your specific needs and that they have a verifiable track record and clear visibility in your market area. The successful sale of a business does not happen overnight and it does not happen by accident. Do your homework, plan ahead, and work with the right team to realize the outcome you envision.....and enjoy your sail.