Can my business become stale if I put it up for sale and it stays on the market a long time?

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No, not at all. If your practice is one that somebody wants to purchase, then it will not matter how long it’s been on the market for, because any buyer will still want to look at it, and the length of time it has been listed for makes no difference at all.

It is not like a house, where everyone can see your home advertised for sale and after a while wonders if there is something wrong with it. If you list with a broker, then the only person who knows your business is up for sale is you, plus any of the buyers you have consented to a release of information to.

For example, if you look at our list of firms for sale, then the majority have been up for sale for less than two years. There are a couple that have been on the market longer than this, usually because there are issues particularly affecting their sale. I doubt some of these will ever sell and some will take quite a long time to shift, as the sellers lower their expectations.

However, nobody knows who these firms are, and other than the reference numbers (which we adjust over time), there is no indication as to the date a business was first listed, because it does not really make any difference.

Furthermore, buyers and sellers change their expectations over time, and quite often we find firms list with us for sale at one price and with one set of conditions, only for everything to change within six months and the firm suddenly has a different set of expectations, and the price has altered.

This can be both up and down – we have had sellers who have increased their price because the business is doing exceptionally well and they have expanded, and similarly we have had sellers who have got into financial trouble and needed to shift their business quickly in order to preserve it.

There is an old saying in the business brokerage world that there is no such thing as a good time to list your business for sale, and we can agree with this. In fact, the longer you have a business listed for, the more likely you are going to achieve a sale, simply because it’s going to get more exposure to potential buyers that it would not have otherwise had.

For a confidential discussion about listing your business for sale, please get in touch with www.jonathanfagan.co.uk, specialist business brokers for law and accountancy practices.

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