So you’ve invested your hard-earned money, time and know-how into building a successful online business. Now it’s time to sell an online business, and reap the rewards of all that hard work. The question is, where do you start?
Though the world of online businesses can seem two-dimensional compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar operation, the fact of the matter is that they contain all of the complexity of a traditional business, and their sale should be treated with the same seriousness.
So while entrepreneurs typically have a habit of thinking that they can do it all – and while this is a strength when it comes to weathering the stress of starting and running an online business – it’s often to their own detriment when it comes to selling it.
Here are just a few of the reasons why hiring a business broker should be at the forefront of your exit strategy.
Valuation Expertise: A professional business broker can help you get the best price when selling your online properties and traditional business assets. A knowledgeable business broker has access to what is going on in the market on a regular basis and can provide you with a clear picture of the online business buying/selling landscape. A passion for the company you built tends to have a distortionary effect when it comes to assessing the website business valuation, and the cost of a bad valuation go beyond just dollars and cents. It’s an essential step in website business appraisal.
Price a company too high and it languishes on the market, gaining a reputation as an unappealing offering. Price it too low and you leave money on the table while potentially raising prospective buyers suspicions about why your company can be had so cheap.
Ultimately, a good business broker acts as an informed, impartial arbiter of the true value of your business.
Confidentiality: Like any market, the one for selling online businesses is rife with ‘window shoppers’ and ‘tire kickers’: potential customers and competitors just waiting for an unknowing seller to open the door to them. Though you may think you’re just being a good spokesperson for your business, it’s hard to walk the line between being informative and exposing your strategies, your profits, and even your customers.
A good Business Broker will make sure that they get a non-disclosure or NDA signed before sharing any information about your business. They can help explain to a prospective buyer why they will only get so much information before they make certain commitments. A business broker has knowledge of how to funnel only the most qualified and serious customers to your business, often resulting in a smoother sale at a higher price.
Marketing: Not only can a business broker advise you on preparing the websites for sale, but they can also undertake a multi-pronged marketing program to give your company maximum exposure. Whether this takes the form of print ads, direct mail, or digital marketing, their expertise across promotional avenues will work to produce the best result far more effectively than any owner could manage on an individual basis. Many brokers even maintain stables of interested buyers, providing you with a vetted customer base that you might not otherwise have access to.
Negotiating: You’re likely busy still running your business, and an internet broker allows you to focus on that while they dig into the often time-consuming nature of negotiating a deal. Since they also created a robust valuation of your business, they can better negotiate from an informed position, one of strength. As mentioned earlier, an owner’s emotional attachment can skew their perception of their business, and a business broker provides a valuable buffer when it comes to lengthy or complicated negotiations.
Security: Internet brokers are trained in the documentation necessary to protect all parties involved, guard against delays and problems, and avoid the last-minute ‘implosion’ of a deal that once seemed like a sure thing. By being focused entirely on the task of selling your business, they are able to make sure every step to ensuring a successful sale is taken.
Efficiency: Time is money, and when it comes to selling your business, it can take quite a bit of time. A business broker allows you to keep your focus on maintaining and improving your business instead of dealing with – hopefully – multiple interested parties at once. They have the relationships and expertise to streamline the sales process, and maximizing your payout while saving you time.
Final Thoughts: Ultimately, hiring a website broker doesn’t completely take you out of the driver’s seat, since there is nobody better suited to tell the story of the business to prospective buyers. Still, a good intermediary will allow you to remain focused on running the daily operations of your business while the complex process of pricing it, bringing it to market, and ultimately selling it unfolds. A business broker is an advocate that will keep the process moving forward until that day when you complete the sale and move on to your next exciting opportunity, whatever that may be.