Expert opinion

How to know when the time is right to sell your business

Rob Starr, Head of M&A at Shaw & Co, explains how how to tell when it's the best time to sell a business.

2 minutes
May 13, 2022
Rob Starr
Tim Gander Photography & Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

The first thing to note is that the best time to sell your business is when it is an option, when you are making the decision - not when you are forced into it. You must also ensure that you are selling when the balance sheet and pipeline are at their healthiest.

But even after months of long-term planning, short-term events can still knock you off course from exiting your business. Throughout the exit process you will have worked hard to eliminate uncertainty by providing your buyer with all the concrete financial and legal information they need. A lot of your time will also have focused on carefully growing the business, so its sale can achieve or exceed the magic number you set - see 6 things to consider when planning a business exit. The last thing you need now is for an unexpected event to throw the deal off course.

No one can predict the future, but by paying careful attention to market behaviour and forecasts it is possible to get a reliable insight into whether the proposed sale time is likely to be opportune or best avoided. While no owner-manager can influence major economic or political events, they do have the power to stall or accelerate their sale date accordingly.

Rob Starr, Head of M&A at Shaw & Co

It is, however, possible to forecast seasonable variations to your business and adjust your proposed exit date accordingly. In seasonal businesses, it will be probably be best to complete the sale just after the seasonal peak. The first reason is that you, rather than your buyer, will then capture the benefit of the seasonal peak. The second is that with strong sales just behind you, your buyer will have stronger evidence of your success than if you were in a sales trough.

We work with UK SMEs and small-cap PLCs that are ready to sell or dispose of a business through a trade sale or owner-managers that are looking to exit the business they’ve grown. Our value lies in helping clients assess their readiness to exit, finding the right buyers willing to pay the right price and managing the trade sale process whilst minimising associated risks. For a confidential, independent, no obligation discussion on how to sell a business, click the 'Let's chat' button.
Rob Starr
Rob Starr
's bio

Fundamentals is a power systems technology specialist, delivering innovative solutions which improve the health and performance of the national grid. Find out how we helped them divest part of its business.

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