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The non-financials: get your business in sale-shape

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When it comes to selling a business, it's easy to fall into the trap that only the financial bottom line matters.

While it is undoubtedly important, there are many other elements which require attention in order to present the business as a well rounded concern with a future. Those elements are everything lying beneath the surface of the financial report, or to put it another way, they are what have contributed to the success of the business to date.


Look at the way in which the company presents and sells not just itself, but also the products or services it supplies. Be sure that it's getting the best deals and the widest exposure for the lowest cost, and that it's using the most suitable marketing platforms for its market sector.


For organization, also read management systems and communication. It's vital that the systems in place allow information and ideas to flow throughout the business along trouble-free pathways, from top to bottom and vice versa. Check if there are any bottlenecks or potential rupture points. If there are, they need to be addressed.


Go through the contact list and remove any names that are no longer relevant, as well as ensuring that the details of the rest are correct. Also, look at the spread of names and question if the business is too reliant on any of them. Ask how personal the relationships are, and how much their usefulness to the business depends upon you personally. Now is the time to make corrections and spend time 'balancing' the list. 


Every company receives supplies from many different sources for many different things. There are large items, such as raw materials to make the products the business sells, and many smaller considerations, such as office stationery, photocopiers and computer peripherals. Ascertain the business is still receiving the best deals possible. It's easy to let such matters slip over time. 


Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and you need to be sure that your customers are satisfied with the service or product they receive. Depending upon what is supplied, look into how reliant the business is on repeat purchasing and the diversity of the customer base. A business that appears to be over-reliant on a small number of clients will not be viewed as favorably as one which has a wide reach.


The quantity and quality of staff will be of great interest to any potential buyer. Do the staffing levels need adjustment? On the one hand, the business may be employing too many people, while on the other hand, there may be insufficient employees to cope comfortably with the workload. And what about their qualifications? Everyone should be suitably qualified for their particular role, with suitable training schemes put in place.


A business that's involved in litigation is not going to appear very attractive, so resolve as many outstanding legal issues as possible before placing the business on the market. 


Many businesses are required to have licenses to be allowed to operate, so check that they're all current and free from any problems that might hinder their renewal. At the same time, verify that all internal asset licenses, such as those for computer software, have been bought, and that nothing has been pirated, intentionally or otherwise.


Potential purchasers will want to check inventories, so spend time making sure that they're not only up to date, but that the historical records are correct and available for inspection.

With all the above in line, it'll be easier to attract potential buyers and sell the business.

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