2. Tidy up your business as if you are about to move to a new house. Get rid of all those old inventory, papaerwork that you have been collecting for the last 10 years, bad debts, problem customers, unproductive employees, and assets that are not being utilized and/or old. A Buyer is not interested in inheriting your problems nor will they pay you for those. You are better off selling it yourself for a reduced price than thinking that a Buyer is going to pay you full dollors for those. As for the documents, a general rule of thumb is that if you have not looked at it for 3 years, most likely you will not, so get rid of it. A great tool which we recommend is to hire a part time employee and invest in a good shredder and scanner (both can be had for less than $600, I recommend the Fijitsu ScanSnap from Costco), and have the employee go at it.
3. Start thinking about how you can delegate some of your day to day activities of the business. Buyers do not want to buy a business that relies on the you doing every aspect of the operations. Create a lists of all the things that you do on a daily basis for the business and see what 3 - 5 areas that you might be able to delegate or train an existing employee to take over.
4. Check your existing lease, contracts and any agreements that you have in place. Some obvious ones are: lease, franchise, customers, etc. Some not so obvious ones are: website, yellow pages, long distance service providers, garbage disposal, etc. Ensure that they are up to date and can be assigned to the buyer.
5. Get your accounts up to date with GST, payroll taxes, federal taxes, suppliers, customers, etc.
6. Create a lists of everything that you would have to show or teach the buyer. Place the information on a binder or provide the lists to your business broker. We find that buyers typically due to ignorance want the seller to stay and teach the buyers the business for a very long time, if you had created a lists ahead of time and be able to show it to buyers, they are more at ease that you have thought through this process and can see no need for you to stay in the business for 6 months when just 2 months might be sufficient.
7. Contact an experienced Business Broker to get advise on what you should do and could do to maximize the price that you get for your business.
8. Visit with your accountant and get their advice on taxation and capital gains issues so that you do not have to pay more than you need to.
9. Plan what you are going to do after you sell your business as this will affect timing, advise from your accountants and future requirements.
10. Don't try and selling your business on your own. Leave that up to your Business Broker. It is more imprtant that you concentrate on ensuring that your business performs to best ability during the sale process.