Andrew Rogerson CM&AP, M&AMI, CBI, LCBB, EECA, CSBA, CERT TAXBusiness & Medical valuations, Sellers and Buyers.

Certified Mergers & Acquisition Professional (CM&AP), Mergers & Acquisition Master Intermediary (M&AMI), Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), 5 time business owner, author specializing in helping entrepreneur's sell a business, value a business or buy the rights to a franchise. For more information visit

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If you would like some comments from a business broker I would share the following with you.

1. If you are looking to sell your business and are motivated to sell, look at things from a buyers perspective. If you are only willing to sell to meet a set of criteria that works for you it will be hard to find a buyer and ultimately close the sale of your business.
2. Your opening paragraph says you have been running your ecommerce business for 3 years and getting good sales from Amazon but you've been investing every penny back into the business. If your plan is to sell the business and then start a new business and do it bigger wouldn't it be best to keep your current business and make it bigger and better seeing you know it so well and have learned so much?
3. There are different metrics to value a business. A critical metric is how much the owner keeps after all his expenses or what is called Sellers Discretionary Earnings. This is one of the most important metrics as a business with lots of gross revenue doesn't mean its worth anything. For example, if you have a business with $1 million in gross revenue and expenses of $1.2 million to run that business its not too attractive unless the buyer is taking out a competitor. If you have a business with $1 million in gross revenue and expenses of $500,000 that's worth a lot more.
4. Most buyers need to get a loan to buy a business. A lender will not loan to a buyer if the business isn't making money as it can't service any debt the buyer takes on.
5. A good business broker will always charge for their business valuation. If a seller doesn't want to pay for my business valuation then they don't see any value in the information and skills it takes to be a successful business broker. Plus a good business valuation necessitates asking lots of questions which takes time and knowledge to handle correctly.

It's tempting to just look at the answer from your perspective. It's better to broaden the picture. Who is your buyer? What are they willing to pay? Is the business attractive to a buyer? If a buyer comes along and they need finance, are you willing to provide seller finance? A business sells because there is a motivated seller who meets a motivated buyer and both parties know all the details about the transaction. The sale may include a lease transferring to the buyer, the buyer getting a third party loan such as an SBA loan which the lender completely controls. This is what I do. I help a motivated seller by valuing and then selling their businesses to a motivated buyer and I make sure everything is fully and completely disclosed so all parties are protected. I also assist the buyer getting an SBA loan if that is part of their need. Additionally and just as importantly, I protect the business by handling everything confidentially. If the business has employees, suppliers or vendors that it does business and it has customers, its important none of these know the business is for sale or it can damage the value of the business. In this model I've just described, the value of the business is a function of its gross revenue and SDE or Sellers Discretionary Earnings. If you'd like to chat I am happy to explain more. Thanks.

What do you see when you look at the stock market over the last two weeks? The Dow was down over 900 points this morning. Why are you even thinking of selling your business in this sort of market when there are no buyers?

If the above makes sense to you then its wrong. The Dow recovered because buyers saw an opportunity and the Dow recovered to be down about 250 points. As I write this is its about 480 points down.

The bottom line. You have your reasons for selling. A buyer will buy for their reasons. You have to find the right buyer which normally takes time and presenting your business as professionally as you can and having experienced advisors around you to help you be successful. If you are highly motivated to sell, try to solve what's causing you to be highly motivated so you can just be a motivated seller and let the market do what it does; bring together a willing buyer and a willing seller.

It's perhaps a good question but there are other more important questions only you can answer. Where is your business going under your ownership? Is there something that makes it unique that will attract more customers and be attractive to a partner or franchisee? Have you done cost and time analyses? What does your business plan suggest? What help would you need to get to the next level and what would that cost? And many more questions. Now...where do you want to go?

The start of any successful negotiations is to know what you want as one party in the transaction. If you know what you want and don't get it then you walk. If you don't know what you want then you are in the same place before you knew someone was interested so toss a coin with heads you sell and tales you don't.

Also, most sellers way over estimate the value of their business. A business is only worth what someone will pay for it. It's value is generally modeled around cashflow or how much revenue it generates or what the owner gets to keep in their pocket. If you think your business is worth $35,000 then its not making much money and sounds more like a hobby. To help you decide whether or not to sell, do you have the heart to keep going for the long term or is it time to try something else.

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