Mayflower consulting director Sarah Penn said where business owners are planning to move on from their business or retire, they often don’t consider the different options that are available.
“One option is that they sell their whole business outright to someone, another is that they just sell their whole book of clients to someone and another one is that they bring someone into the business, a younger partner who will come up through the ranks and take over,” she said.
They also need to be clear about whether it’s the business that they’re selling, which will include the people, the procedures, the policies, the infrastructure, the software and the whole machinery of the business, Ms Penn said, or if what they’re selling is actually their client base.
“I think it's very easy to think they’re both the same thing, but it really isn't. If you're essentially selling your client base, and somebody else has an existing business and they want to grow and acquire your business to bring that in, then they probably don't care how fantastic your policies, procedures are and your people are,” she said.
“What they care about is how clean the customer data is, how up to date it is, if it has all the right information for your clients and if you take good records of each conversation you have with a client so that they can cleanly handover.”
If the business owner is selling the whole business, however, then they will need to ensure that there are good policies and procedures in place and be able to prove that the business can run as its own ecosystem without the owner there.
“So as a business owner, you want to think about having some test runs, taking some time off and seeing what works and what doesn't so that you know that the business runs by itself,” she said.
“Starting early is also really important; know what your goals are, and also know what your alternatives are – I don't think people think this through enough.”