Amongst other endeavours in my career, I have been a realtor, a business broker, and an M&A advisor. In each role, I have been fortunate enough to serve a variety of business owners, along with buying and selling businesses of my own. Concerning the topic of this article, over time, I have learned that each business situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding representation.

For the purpose of this post, there are too many variables to write a single answer, and each reader's business will have a different profit position. To simplify, I put together six information tables, allowing readers to quickly jump to the relevant table for their business size. My hope is this material will help readers through the representation decision-making process.

In a general sense, having an experienced intermediary on your transaction team will increase your probability of sale, and (even after fees) increase your net transaction proceeds. Small businesses doing under $250,000 a year in revenue should consider selling on their own, and every other business owner should build a network of advisors around them, who are focused on distributing the workload, reducing deal risk, and increasing cash at close.

For context, please read the assumptions, and the definitions before reviewing the tables.

Table Definitions:

  • Owner Has No Free Time - The owner has no personal time to put towards business sale activities.
  • Owner Has Free Time - The owner can dedicate 10 - 20 hours per week toward business sale activities, without negatively impacting the company.
  • Command and Control Style - The owner prefers controlling all situations, being the primary decision-maker, and has difficulty taking direction from others.
  • Learning and Delegating Style - Owner is a lifelong learner, likely has a coalition of advisors, and prefers delegating to doing.

Assumptions:

  • The tables use net profit, not revenue as a designator.
  • The seller is not transferring internally to management, or family, and is not liquidating the business assets.
  • Only 20% of intermediaries are proficient practitioners.
  • 99% of realtors specialize in selling real estate. When referring to realtors, this article assumes sellers are working with the 1 in 100 who are specialized in business sales.
  • The business in question is sellable.
  • The owner's focus is on maximizing net transaction proceeds, and not minimizing intermediary fees.

Scott Duke is the owner of GatewayCapital, a business transition advisory firm, and can be found on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/welstand