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How to Tell Employees and Clients You’re Selling Your Business

Posted On: 06/19/2017 / By:
Selling A Business

Deciding to sell your business is never easy; it involves lots of time, planning, and hard work. While there are many moving pieces to a business sale, you should never overlook having a conversation with your current clients and employees. This conversation can either help or hurt you during this already stressful time, and it’s important you handle it appropriately. Use these tips to learn how to best tell employees and clients you’re selling your business.

Who Needs to Know You’re Selling Your Business?

Every employee and client will eventually know about the transition of ownership. However, disclosing this information is a careful balancing act between honesty and confidentiality.

selling your business tipsThe Beginning of the Sale

Be careful to only tell key employees in your company first. These employees should be people you trust not to spread the word of the sale just yet. They also can help get your business in order for the due diligence process, and may even become potential buyers.

Once you’ve found a serious buyer and have outlined the terms of the sale, you can begin telling your biggest clients. Being open and honest about the transition of ownership can help clients feel more at ease with the impending changes. Not all customers will be happy with the sale, and it’s your job as the current owner to ensure them their business will remain a priority under the new ownership.

During these initial conversations, it’s not uncommon for businesses to require participants sign a non-disclosure agreement. Information that is leaked to outsiders before your assets are in order can lead to a host of problems. It’s best to control the conversations before the rumor mill begins to churn out stories. See what a typical NDA contains here.

The Final Stages of the Sale

Once you and the new owner come to an agreement, you should discuss the transition with the rest of your employees. Since confidentiality is no longer the leading issue, it’s appropriate to be transparent about the logistics of the sale. You can help ease employee concerns by answering questions and explaining your reasons for selling your business.

Introducing employees to the new owner will also help ease concerns in the company. The buyer is now not only the business owner, but also your employees’ new boss, and it’s important you’re present for the initial meeting. Take this time to encourage employees about the future of the company, and ensure their needs will still be met with the same level of care and understanding as before. Along with encouraging employees, you should remain positive in conversations with your other clients. Reassurance is key to ownership transitions and will help ease the inevitable road bumps in the process.

Signing the Purchase Agreement

Generally, signing the purchase agreement is the indicator for disclosing the news to the rest of your stakeholders. At this point, suppliers and the public should be aware of the transition. It’s important the news of your sale comes from your company, or competitors will likely misconstrue your reasoning for selling your business to show your company in a bad light. Use transparency to your advantage here, and show that though the ownership is changing, your business is still the same in terms of ethics and concerns for the customer.

If you need help selling your business, contact the experts at Sunbelt Business Brokers! We’re the place to go to buy or sell a business, and will help you through every stage of the process. Find your closest business broker here to begin the selling process.


John Davies

After obtaining his MBA, John began his career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the international accounting and consulting firm, and subsequently joined Progressive Corporation, a large U.S. based insurance company. John was a Division President at Progressive and subsequently became the CEO of a New York based private equity investment company. In 2001, he founded MMI as a platform investment company and MMI has subsequently acquired 15 additional companies.

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