Feb 13 2012

Long Sickness, Sure Death

Over 25 years ago, my father told me “long sickness, sure death.”  He was talking about deals…any kind of deal…business or personal.  The longer a negotiation drags on, he said, the less likely it is to close.

Regarding the sale of a business, no truer words were spoken.  Negotiations that linger on, almost never result in a completed sale.  And for those few that do, it is typically because the seller/owner has made substantial concessions to maintain the buyer’s interest.  This is no way to sell a business.

The key to getting to the closing table is dealing with “problems” before going to market…and fixing them (or at least mitigating the ones that can’t be fixed).  This is where detailed exit planning can be most beneficial to a business owner.  Problems are identified and dealt with in a deliberate manner….not in “crisis mode” during the due diligence period.

Unfortunately, too many business owners learn this lesson the hard way.  No business sale ever goes completely smoothly, but the best way to make it to the closing table, on your terms, is to plan it that way.