Selling a business

Make it Count

Selling your business can be a life changing moment and is commonly the pinnacle of your professional career. It is exciting, challenging and often stressful. However, only a small percentage of businesses owners actually achieve a sale. To be successful, your exit needs to be carefully planned and expertly executed. When it's time to sell your business our sell-side advisory services can help you deliver one of the most important transactions of your life.

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Rob Starr
‍Helping you sell your business


Selling your business is likely to be the biggest commercial transaction of your life, as well as one of the most significant for you and your family. However, the reality is that for many owner-managers there’s never enough time in the day so, despite its importance, thinking about your business exit, let alone doing something about it, can easily get pushed back – and back!

It’s important to realise that selling a business is no trivial affair and if you’re not truly ready to sell, or if you don’t approach the sale in the right way, you can leave a lot of value on the table, or worse still, fail completely.


We work with owners of UK based privately-owned SMEs with values of £5m or more that are ready to sell all, or part, of their business. We help our clients exit through trade sales, private equity sales, management buyouts or employee ownership trusts.

See our deals and success stories.


Whatever’s driving your motivation to exit, selling a business is not a trivial endeavour – it’s stressful, time consuming and fraught with risk. Being unprepared for selling your business could mean that you fail to achieve its real value, sell to the wrong buyer or fail to sell at all. Each can erode the value you’ve created and jeopardise any legacy you wish to maintain once the business is sold. Typical mistakes that owner-managers frequently make when trying to sell a business include:

  • Failing to plan an exit assuming that it will ‘just happen';
  • Limited appreciation for the time commitment and dedication it takes to achieve a sale;
  • Expecting buyers to approach them, rather than actively taking the business to market;
  • Holding unrealistic valuation expectations and limited understanding of typical deal terms;
  • Failing to bring about ‘competitive tension’ amongst buyers;
  • Poor understanding and articulation of the businesses value proposition, its ‘value drags and value drivers’;
  • Failure to develop a sufficiently strong management team to get them away from ‘day-to-day operations’;
  • Lack of preparation for due diligence or generally untidy business practices;
  • Inability to stay three or four moves ahead of the process due to lack of experience;
  • Poor communication to stakeholders post-deal.


To successfully sell a business, your exit strategy needs to achieve these key objectives:

  1. Set out your exit criteria, thinking carefully about your required net returns and the legacy you wish to establish with employees, customers and other key stakeholders;
  2. Undertake a critical review of your business and identify the ‘value drags and value drivers’. You must develop a plan to mitigate drags and enhance drivers;
  3. Carefully decide on the best business sale option for you and your business;
  4. Thoroughly prepare for due diligence covering all aspects of legal, financial and commercial so you are ready to respond to enquires promptly.
  5. Take a structured approach to identifying your buyers – which may include your existing management team – and work towards developing and positioning your business in a way that delivers best value to them;
  6. Run a structured sales process to your timetable that brings buyers to the table at the same time to create competitive tension;
  7. Skilfully negotiate the complex terms that surround a business sale to maximise value and minimise future risk;
  8. Maintain professionalism in all interactions to deliver the conversations that build trust with identified buyers;
  9. Build an internal and external communications plan to protect value and satisfy the needs of all stakeholders.


Our ’sell-side‘ advisory services will ensure that you have the right exit strategy, secure the right price with the right buyers, manage the sale process and mitigate associated risks when it’s time to exit. Here's how we can help you sell your business:


Our ‘sell-side’ experts advise on the development of your exit strategy. Building your strategy well before it is time to exit will unlock maximum value when it’s time to sell your business.

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Our ‘sell-side’ specialists will leverage extensive knowledge to provide an independent valuation of the business you wish to sell. This real world, fact-based, valuation will allow you to choose your exit timing and plan and your post-deal finances.

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Our experts can advise on the best route to achieve your business sale whether a trade sale, management buyout, employee ownership trust or a multi-track approach is best for you.

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Tax is an essential element to get right when thinking about your net returns from a business sale. We can help build a tax strategy so your tax affairs are in the right shape so you can maximise the value from selling your business.

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Showing you how

Selling a business is a complex process and any buyer will need confidence in your readiness to sell. We use our experience to establish buyer confidence and nurture their motivation to buy.

Independent evaluation

It is often easy to get caught in ‘deal fever’ and sell when you shouldn't. Our independent point of view helps keep decisions logical rather than emotional. We are there to support you with those difficult decisions.

Added connectivity

Leverage our networks and connectivity to get access to buyers that are unknown to you. Use our deal credentials to generate buyer interest to make your trade sale happen.


How can a corporate finance advisor help me?

Corporate finance transactions are not an everyday activity and it is unlikely your team will have the skills and knowledge required to navigate a deal. We provide expert advice to ensure a successful outcome.

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Why should I use Shaw & Co to help me sell my business?

We are experts in selling mid-market owner-managed businesses and have managed sale processes on behalf of clients that have involved some of the world's largest buyers (such as Unilever), as well as much more modest companies, through to private equity and everything in between. We ensure that your business is fully prepared for the transaction and maximise its value by positioning the business with buyers in the best possible way. Our experience ensures that you aware of what is coming next so that you can stay several steps ahead of negotiations. Selling a business is the largest transaction of many business owners' lives. It is not the time to ’learn on the job‘ but the time to ensure that you have the absolute best experts alongside you.

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What sort of businesses can you help to sell?

We work with businesses looking to sell that have a value of more than £5m. We may agree to work with slightly smaller businesses in circumstances where a buyer has already been approached and the mandate falls short of a full marketing process. There is no theoretical maximum value of the businesses that we work with. Recent sales values have approached £100m and our median deal value is between £20m and £30m.

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Are you a broker?

No, we are not brokers. We are professional advisors. Whilst our role often involves the introduction of parties to a deal, our value is much greater than a simple introduction service. We support you in the development and articulation of your business case, the negotiation of terms and the management of completion - all of which materially improve the end result, adding significant value to your transaction.

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How do you get paid?

Our fees are predominantly ’Success Fees‘, meaning that we get paid on completion of the deal. We take great care to make sure our fees are aligned with your goals and we take pride in our fees always being a proportion of the value we add. A smaller proportion of our fee is structured as a ’Commitment Fee‘ which is paid monthly whilst we are working on your sale.

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How long does a business sale take to complete?

The process of preparing a business for exit, marketing the opportunity and completing a deal, take an average of around nine months. However, this all depends on the readiness of the business and the value aspirations of the owners. We have worked with business owners for several years before an exit is formally started to align business value and personal financial aspirations.

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Can you do international deals?

Yes, we have completed cross-border transactions on numerous occasions. We are fully capable of accessing international buyers and investors looking for opportunities in the UK. However, all our clients are UK based entities.

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Are you sector specialists?

We have specific sector knowledge derived from many years of collective deal making experience. However, we pride ourselves on the diversity of sectors we work with which challenges us to think creatively. This creative and challenging approach brings huge value to our clients when helping them to build robust business cases. See some of our specific sector experience.

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When Shaw & Co is involved, will I lose control over the process?

Certainly not! Our aim is to become part of your extended team keeping you up to date with all developments. All decisions are yours to make. Our aim is to make those decisions easier.

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What sort of service experience can I expect if I instruct Shaw & Co?

We take all of our clients through a carefully crafted journey. This not only ensures that we are a great match for each other but, once engaged, it helps us to deliver exceptional client service that exceeds expectations.

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We put you first

One of our six promises is to do the right thing and put your interests before ours. We work harder to achieve the best deal for you and your business.

We are immensely proud of all that we have achieved at Torchlight. We look forward to this new chapter with such credible and ambitious partners, who share our desire to bring enduring security and stability where it is needed most in the world. I’d also like to add my personal thanks to Shaw & Co for making the deal happen."

Edward Dickson
Managing Director, Torchlight Group


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