How Long Does It Take to Sell a Business?

How Long Does It Take to Sell a Business?

How long does it take to sell a business? I can say, without fear of contradiction, "It depends."

It depends on the market:

  • At this very moment, the market for business sales is warm to hot. The economy is improving, especially in Colorado, but it will not stay that way forever.
  • Currently, money for business acquisitions is cheap.
  • Baby Boomers are leaving the corporate world in droves, and many are looking for Career 2.0 (i.e. looking to buy a business).

It depends on the nature of the business:

  • How big is it? (Bigger is not always better.)
  • How profitable is it? (Is this case, bigger profits ARE better!)
  • How much competition is there in the marketplace?
  • Does the business have a strong history?
  • Does the business have "buzz?"

It depends on the operating structure you have in place:

  • Are there documented systems and procedures to be followed, or do you make it up as you go?
  • Is there a trained and competent staff in place that is charged with running the day-to-day operations or does the owner have to make all of the decisions?
  • Could someone else step into the owner's role today and keep the business on track?

It depends on how the business is marketed for sale:

  • Will you engage a professional business broker, or just put an ad on Craigslist?
  • If you choose to use a broker, will you enlist the services of a full-time professional or someone who markets businesses as a sideline?
  • Will your broker actively solicit buyers, or simply post a listing on the Internet and hope for the best?
  • Is your broker a "Lone Ranger", or does he have the support and resources of an international network of business brokers?
  • Does your broker have a network of professionals in the legal, accounting and financial fields that can help get the deal closed?
  • Does your broker have a strong track record of successful transactions?

Finally, to answer this most important question -- how long does it take to sell a business -- we can look at basic business sales statistics:

  • On average, the length of time between listing and closing of a transaction in the Denver metro is about eight months. For businesses sold through our Transworld Denver office, that time span averages around six months.

In the end, some businesses sell in a matter of weeks and some may never sell. This all depends on the factors listed above, not the least of which is how you choose to market the business and whom you choose to guide you through the process.

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Rachael Holstein joined the Transworld Team in 2016 as Marketing Coordinator. Her working experience has been largely focused on Business Development and Marketing in the finance, architecture, property management, and information technology industries. A long time resident of Cleveland, Ohio, she attained her Undergrad from John Carroll University and a Master's Degree in Global Interactions from Cleveland State University. She relocated to Denver in 2013 for a change of scenery and a bit of adventure.