Let’s face it, most accounting practice owners are not familiar with selling their own practice. This is an event that may happen once or twice in a lifetime. There are some important factors that every owner should be aware of that could kill the deal. There are obviously many other "deal killers" out there, but below is a list of the most common:
- Spending too much time trying to sell the business and not enough time running the business.
- Overpricing the practice.
- Confidentiality issues – Confidentiality agreements should be in place prior to disclosing the identity of the owner and the practice. If not, word could spread to the staff, clients, and competition. This could be detrimental to the practice and have very serious ramifications to the continued success of the business.
- Not preparing to sell the business. Interested buyers are going to ask to see a lot of information; including financial information, client files, fixed asset list, etc. An organized and well thought out seller will have this readily available.
- Not helping the buyer with transitional assistance – Buyers are not looking to be thrown the keys! They will need and will expect owner transitional assistance with the staff and client base to ensure that the practice continues to run as normal without interruption.
- Being inflexible or unwilling to negotiate with the price and terms of the deal.
- Time – Time kills deals.
If you are considering selling your practice on your own, most of the above deal killers will be hard to miss.
Spending time on marketing your practice and trying to sell it is a full time job. At least for us, it is. It can be very difficult and time consuming to continue to run the practice as well as answer questions, qualify all prospects and weed out the tire kickers. Obtaining confidentiality agreements without a 3rd party is close to impossible. If you are trying to sell on your own, all you can do is send them a non-disclosure and hope they are serious, sign it and return it. There is not much else you can do and this buyer is not obligated to keep your information confidential until this is signed.
Trying to sell your accounting practice on your own is much like trying to sell your house on your own. Anyone who has used an agent in the past can attest to how much smoother the process can be with a broker. Using a 3rd party will also help ensure that you are receiving the most value for your practice. They understand market price and conditions and will assist you in getting the most value for your practice.