Sometimes, many times actually, business owners don’t want the fact that they are selling or contemplating selling their business to be public knowledge. They may not want to scare away good employees. They may not want their family, friends, or customers to know they’re planning to sell. Whatever the reason, confidentiality is something to be taken seriously in any business sale. Yes, eventually word will get out but it should be on the owner’s terms, when he or she is ready to make the announcement and face the inevitable questions that arise from it.
Until that time comes, here are four tips you can use when selling your business to keep things confidential.
4 Ways To Maintain Confidentiality During A Business Sale
- Blind Advertising. The simplest way to make sure no one knows that you are the business owner behind the sale is to simply withhold certain information. It’s called blind advertising and it’s a very common practice. When you advertise a business blindly, you may withhold information about the business owner and/or the name of the business. The goal here is to get calls about the business. To do that, you don’t need to provide such detailed information as the business name. For instance, ads can be written to provide all of the relevant information a buyer needs to decide whether or not they want to learn more about the business without revealing the name of the business or the owners. Ads may contain information about the industry the business is in, the size of the business, number of employees, and general location. Done properly, none of this information should reveal the exact business that is for sale. Once you see the ad, ask yourself, “Could someone tell that this is me, based on the ad?” if the answer is No, run it. If not, re-write it until you’re satisfied with the anonymity.
- Confidentiality Agreements. Another key component to keeping things quiet is the confidentiality agreement. If you are serious about maintaining confidentiality, interested buyers MUST sign a legal confidentiality agreement BEFORE any of your personal information is released to them or they even learn the name of the business. This will provide you with legal protections if the buyer spills the beans. This is also the time to look into the buyer’s qualifications and make sure they are serious and capable of making the purchase. If they’re not, don’t bother giving them confidential information. Talk to your business broker about this aspect of selling the business in Florida. Any responsible business broker will totally back you up on this and will even have approved confidentiality agreements ready to go as soon as you sign on with them.
- Have An Answer Ready. Despite your best efforts, word may leak out and you’ll find yourself fielding questions from staff and customers. Be ready for this with a believable answer. Don’t panic or read too much into them; most questions are simply innocent inquiries. If you are ready to tell them the truth, go ahead. If you’re not, try to deflect the question until you are ready (you never want to say too much too soon).
- Take Control Of The Process. Even if you have a signed purchase agreement in hand, the time for confidentiality may not be over. Come to an agreement with the buyer so he or she knows when and how the employees will be informed of the sale and by whom. While some key employees may need to know earlier, we often advise our clients to wait until the closing has occurred before letting the entire staff know about the sale. You just never know what might happen before ownership is officially transferred over and it’s not worth the stress and strain of worried and panicked employees to make announcements prematurely.
Maintain Confidentiality With Help From Crowne Atlantic Properties
Maintaining confidentiality during the selling process is important, but it won’t break the sale if word slips out. For help listing or selling your business and ensuring it’s kept confidential, contact Crowne Atlantic Properties at 407-478-4101.