How Long Does it Take to Sell a Business?

Many Steps Have to Occur in a Certain Sequence


The process of selling a business, from the preparation of the marketing documents to obtaining a check at the closing table, usually takes about eight to twelve months. There are many steps involved in this process – so many steps that have to occur in a certain sequence – that many sellers are often surprised at the complexity.  It’s sort of like elective surgery to correct a health problem.  If you knew all the steps involved in the actual surgical procedure, you might not elect to go through with it.  But, you keep your ultimate goal in mind, and just proceed through the steps – one at a time.



The following article, “The Process of Buying or Selling a Small Business” in, gives an interesting perspective on the process of selling a business, breaking it down into: (1) pre-negotiation issues; (2) preliminary negotiations, (3) drafting a formal agreement and pre-closing review; and (4) closing.  While the article doesn’t list all the actual steps, it breaks down the process into four main categories, while is often easier to grasp for those not familiar with the protocols of selling a business.
Generally, the purchase or sale of a business will be in the form of one of the following:

  • An asset purchase, where the buyer purchases some or all of the seller’s assets. This transaction is favored by buyers because you can get the assets, like equipment and inventory, without taking on the seller’s debts and liabilities
  • stock purchase, where the buyer purchases all or most of the seller’s stock and “steps into the shoes” of the seller. Sellers like this transaction because the buyer assumes all of the seller’s debts and liabilities
  • merger, where two companies combine to form a single, new company. This transaction is liked by both buyers and sellers because it usually entails a tax-free swap of stock in the new company for stock of the old or “merged” corporation



Regardless of how the transaction is structured, however, the deal usually flows like this:

  • Pre-negotiation issues
  • Preliminary negotiations
  • Drafting a formal agreement and pre-closing review
  • Closing



As early as possible in the process, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer and a financial adviser to help make sure that you get the deal you’re after…To read the entire article, click: The Process of Buying or Selling a Small Business



The Summit Acquisitions Group — Business Brokers and M&A Advisors — specializes in the sale, appraisal, and financing of privately owned companies ranging in valuation from $750,000 to $25,000,000. Contact their offices in Atlanta, GA or Charlotte, NC for a free consultation.