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How to Successfully Sell Your Existing Business

Local Business for Sale Service in Los Angeles

First Choice Business Brokers in LA offer up their best expert tips to successfully selling your existing business. 

1. Plan Ahead:
Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your business for sale. Give yourself plenty of time to ensure that all necessary documents and financial records are in order. Here is a standard timeline of tasks that a business owner in Los Angeles may need to complete in order to prepare their business for sale:

  • 12-18 Months Before Sale:
    -Review and update financial records, including balance sheets, income statements, and tax returns.
    -Identify and address any operational issues or challenges that could negatively impact the value of the business.
    -Develop a marketing plan to attract qualified buyers, including creating a comprehensive list of potential buyers and developing targeted marketing materials.
    -Consult with a business broker or advisor to get an accurate valuation of the business.

  • 6-12 Months Before Sale:
    -Prepare an executive summary of the business, including financial information, operations, and future growth prospects.
    -Evaluate and update key contracts and agreements, such as leases, customer agreements, and vendor contracts.
    -Conduct a comprehensive review of any intellectual property or patents associated with the business.
    -Evaluate and update any employee agreements, including non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements.

  • 3-6 Months Before Sale:
    -Begin marketing the business to potential buyers, using a combination of online listings, targeted advertising, and outreach to qualified buyers in the broker's network.
    -Conduct preliminary discussions with potential buyers and screen them for financial qualifications and interest.
    -Continue to update and organize financial records and documents related to the sale.

  • 1-3 Months Before Sale:
    -Finalize negotiations with potential buyers, including price and deal terms.
    -Prepare a purchase agreement and other legal documents related to the sale.
    -Conduct a final review of all documents and financial records related to the sale.
    -Work with a tax professional to ensure that all tax liabilities are understood and properly managed.

By following this timeline of tasks, business owners in Los Angeles can properly prepare their businesses for sale and maximize their chances of a successful transaction. It's important to remember that every business sale is unique and may require additional tasks, but this timeline provides a good starting point for sellers looking to prepare their businesses for sale.

2. Determine a Realistic Value:
Work with a business broker or appraiser to determine a realistic value for your business. Overvaluing your business can make it difficult to find a buyer while undervaluing it can mean leaving money on the table.
First Choice Business Brokers uses a comprehensive approach to business valuation to help sellers determine a realistic value for their business. The process typically involves gathering and analyzing a range of financial, operational, and market data to arrive at a fair and accurate valuation.
Some of the key metrics that First Choice Business Brokers may consider when completing a business valuation include:

3. Revenue and Profitability: 

First Choice Business Brokers will analyze your business's revenue and profitability to determine its overall financial health and potential for future growth.

  • Industry Comparisons: We will look at other businesses in your industry to compare pricing, revenue, profitability, and other key metrics.

  • Asset Value: We will assess the value of your business's tangible assets, such as equipment, real estate, and inventory.

  • Intellectual Property: We will evaluate any intellectual property or patents associated with your business and consider their impact on the overall value of the business.

  • Market Conditions: We will assess current market conditions to determine the potential demand for your business and identify any unique challenges or opportunities in the market.

Once a comprehensive evaluation is completed, First Choice Business Brokers will provide the seller with a detailed document outlining the business's value and key findings from the valuation. This document can be a valuable tool during negotiations, as it provides a clear and objective assessment of the business's value that can be used as a starting point for discussions.

Having a comprehensive evaluation document can also help to enhance negotiations by providing a clear understanding of the business's strengths and weaknesses, as well as any potential risks or opportunities associated with the sale. 

By working with a business broker that provides a detailed and accurate valuation, sellers can increase their chances of achieving a successful sale at a fair and realistic price.

4. Address Any Issues: 

Identify and address any issues or problems with the business before putting it on the market. This can include anything from staffing problems to outdated equipment.


Addressing any issues or problems with a business before putting it on the market is crucial for a smooth and successful sale. Here are some examples of issues that a business owner may want to address before putting their business up for sale:

  • Staffing problems: If a business has a high turnover rate or poor employee morale, it may indicate a toxic work environment. Prospective buyers may view this as a red flag and lose interest in the business. Addressing staffing problems by improving employee morale and retention can make the business more attractive to potential buyers
  • Outdated equipment: Outdated equipment can slow down productivity, increase operating costs, and reduce the quality of products or services. Prospective buyers may view this as a costly investment they'll need to make if they purchase the business. Upgrading equipment before putting the business up for sale can make it more attractive to buyers.
  • Financial problems: A business with financial problems, such as unpaid debts, tax liens, or a history of late payments, may indicate a lack of financial stability. Prospective buyers may view this as a risky investment and may offer a lower purchase price or choose not to buy the business at all. Addressing financial problems by paying off debts or improving cash flow can make the business more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Legal problems: A business with legal problems, such as pending lawsuits or regulatory violations, may scare away potential buyers. Addressing legal problems before putting the business up for sale can help mitigate any negative impact on the sale.
  • Intellectual property issues: If a business has a history of infringing on other companies' patents or trademarks, it may make the business less attractive to potential buyers. Addressing intellectual property issues before putting the business up for sale can help minimize any legal risks or potential damage to the business's reputation.

5. Keep it Confidential:

Maintain confidentiality throughout the sales process to avoid any negative impact on the business's operations, reputation, and revenue.


Confidentiality is crucial during the selling process of a business as it helps to protect the business's sensitive information and prevent competitors, customers, or employees from learning about the sale. Maintaining confidentiality is important to prevent any negative impact on the business's operations, reputation, and revenue during the sales process.


To maintain confidentiality, sellers may use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to ensure that potential buyers keep all information about the business strictly confidential. Additionally, sellers can limit the dissemination of information to a select group of qualified buyers and restrict access to sensitive information until a buyer has expressed a serious interest in purchasing the business.


First Choice Business Brokers play a critical role in maintaining confidentiality. They can help sellers identify potential buyers who are serious about acquiring the business and have a legitimate need for the information. They screen potential buyers for their financial qualifications and their ability to keep sensitive information confidential. 


Furthermore, business-for-sale services can advise sellers on the appropriate level of information to share at each stage of the process and help manage communication between buyers and sellers to avoid any leaks of confidential information.

6. Finding a Buyer: 

Finding a buyer for your business means using the vast networks to present your business to potential buyers. 


Database of Buyers: First Choice Business Brokers maintains a database of qualified buyers who are actively looking to purchase a business. When a business owner hires them to sell their business, they can search their database to find potential buyers who are a good fit for the business.

7. Qualify Buyers: 

Work with your business broker to pre-qualify potential buyers before sharing sensitive information about your business. First Choice Business Brokers screens potential buyers to ensure that they are qualified and serious about purchasing the business.


They may require buyers to sign NDAs, provide proof of financing, and complete a buyer profile to ensure that they are a good fit for the business.

8. Be Flexible: 

Be prepared to negotiate and be flexible on deal terms to ensure that both parties can come to an agreement that works for everyone.


Being flexible in negotiations involves being open-minded and adaptable to different possibilities and outcomes. It means being willing to consider alternative solutions and compromise on certain aspects of the deal in order to reach an agreement that is satisfactory for all parties involved.


Being flexible also involves being aware of the needs and priorities of the other party and being willing to make adjustments to the deal terms that take those factors into account. This can involve offering different payment terms, adjusting delivery schedules, or modifying the scope of the agreement.


Flexibility in negotiations requires good communication skills, as it involves being able to articulate your own needs and priorities while also actively listening to the other party and taking their concerns into consideration. It is important to approach negotiations with a willingness to find common ground and work together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.


Ultimately, being flexible in negotiations can help build strong, positive relationships with the other party and can lead to successful, long-term partnerships that benefit everyone involved.

9. Understand the Tax Implications: 

Understand the tax implications of the sale and seek professional tax advice to minimize your tax liabilities.


When selling a business in Los Angeles, understanding sales tax is essential. Sales tax applies to the sale of certain goods and services, including tangible personal property, such as inventory or equipment. Depending on the nature of the business being sold, sales tax may also apply to intangible assets, such as licenses, permits, and other intellectual property.


In California, sales tax is generally collected by the seller at the time of sale and remitted to the state. The current sales tax rate in Los Angeles is 9.5%, which includes a 7.25% state tax and a 2.25% local tax.


However, the application of sales tax to the sale of a business can be complex, and it's important to understand which sales are subject to sales tax and which are exempt. For example, if the business being sold involves the sale of tangible goods, such as a retail store, then sales tax may be due on the sale of inventory. On the other hand, if the business being sold is a service-based business, such as a consulting firm, then sales tax may not apply.


It's also important to note that certain types of transactions may be exempt from sales tax. For example, if the business being sold is a going concern, meaning that the buyer will continue to operate the business after the sale, then the sale may be exempt from sales tax. However, if the buyer is purchasing the business assets but not the ongoing business operations, then sales tax may still apply.

10. Stay Focused: 

Focus on running your business throughout the sales process to ensure that the business remains profitable and continues to grow until the sale is finalized.


By following these expert tips from a local business-for-sale service, like First Choice Business Brokers in Los Angeles, you can successfully sell your existing business and achieve the best possible outcome.

We Are Your First Choice Business Broker Los Angeles

Schedule a consultation by calling: (424) 587-1733