Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory

A Neumann & Associates, LLC

October 8, 2013

The Top 5 Mistakes In Selling A Business

By Joseph Eneldas


Quite often, business owners attempt to sell their company “on their own” once they are ready to retire. However, the process of selling a business is fraught with unknowns that make it so difficult – often with far reaching negative impact.

“There is no question that it appears tempting to save on professional fees by trying to sell the business on one’s own”, say Achim Neumann, President A Neumann & Associates, New Jersey. “However, as the old saying goes ‘good advice will cost some money – bad advice will cost a fortune’”. ” Never is this adage truer than in selling one’s business.

“This article will illustrate some of the top mistakes, “ says Michael Feite, Managing Director, Eastern PA.

      1) Business Too Dependent On Owner


If the business owner handles all decision-making himself, it will be virtually impossible to provide a smooth transition. This situation becomes even worse, if the business owner is actually handling all sales, too. Whereas administrative functions can be successively transferred, long-term sales relationships typically take more time to transfer to new owners or managers.

Thus, the business owner needs to start delegating responsibilities early on, and needs to develop an organizational chart for the company that provides for clear responsibility assignments.

      2) Lack Of Proper Valuation & Tax Planning

“Amazingly, many business owners have a very sophisticated and thorough understanding of the market place for their products”, says Michael Gersten, Managing Director, North NJ / Southern NY State, “but are willing to sell their company without any proper valuation in the market.”

Obviously, a low asking price will leave money on the table, however, more importantly – and unbeknownst to many sellers – a high asking price will not only prevent a business from being sold but it could ultimately compromise the confidentiality of the transaction, because too many buyers will have seen the business but then shied away.

And whereas a proper valuation on the front end is very important, tax planning on the back end is just as important. It does a seller little good to have obtained one hundred percent of the asking price, only then to turn 50% of such over to the IRS or State government.

      3) Deal Structure


As we’ve said above, deal structure is very important with respect to valuation and tax planning. More importantly, often sellers rush to the highest bidder.

However, price is most likely less important than deal structure: for example, is A/R and A/P included? How will employee retirement obligations be treated? What assets secure the seller note? On what basis are royalties calculated, and what audit mechanism is in place? What kind of consulting and employment agreements will be put into place for the seller? Will SBA bank acquisition financing allow for a seller note pay-back?

“We can easily present a seller four deals with the same offering price, but with vastly different net receipts”, says Neumann.

      4) Hiring Your Daughter-In-Law To Do The deal

As mentioned early on, selling a business on one’s own has significant risks.  Selling a business is a very specialized process that requires knowledge across a variety of professions.

As dangerous as trying to sell your own business is to hire a relative because “he or she is in the legal or accounting field.” As in many other professions, the legal or accounting field has specialty niches and the mere fact that an individual is trained in one segment does not qualify him/her in other segments. Not to mention that one might lose the daughter in law over it!

“As a matter of fact, deals get most complicated if a seller does not have the proper advice from a transactional attorney who is specialized in business transfers,” says Feite. “Again and again, business sellers underestimate the impact of not having a proper team built – for marketing the business, as well as for legal and tax advice”

One fact that is known, though:  the buyer will have a top team of consultants available! Thus, a seller needs to level the playing field. Remember: you only get to sell your company once!

      5) Forgetting To Manage The Company

Selling a business typically takes 9 to 12 months. Thus, a business owner needs to recognize that he is in “for the long haul”. Getting frustrated because there is no full-price offer within three months sets the seller up for a fall. The owner needs to focus on running the company at peak performance during this time.

There will be a consistent stream of demands for financials during the process in a world that requires instant information by all market participants. Thus, books need to be kept in tip-top shape. Not focusing on top performance, resulting in a drop in results will immediately trigger the buyer’s desire to renegotiate the deal.

Another distraction can be professional opinions from the CPA and legal field that review each proposed structure with the sentence “The problem is…” A business owner needs to stay positive and filter such consistent negativity out in order to complete a deal.

Having a positive approach also includes overcoming the thinking that “the deal is dead”. Every deal is at least three times “dead” in a transaction, and still all parties find their way back to the negotiation table – with the help of proper M&A advisers.

In sum, there are many aspects in selling a business with the potential for a vast number of errors, oversights, and omissions to occur, any of which could prevent maximizing the receipts for the business seller.  Only a highly qualified M&A firm or business brokerage organization has the long-term experience to address these issues, and therefore, a business owner needs to really think about what kind of transaction team he will put together for selling the biggest asset he has.


About A Neumann & Associates, LLC

A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional merger & acquisition and business brokerage firm with 30 years of experience in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland that assists business owners and buyers with the business transfer process in a completely confidential manner. The company is affiliated with BBN, with 450 offices and access to a national network of qualified buyers and sellers. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777

About A Neumann & Associates, LLC

A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional mergers & acquisitions and business brokerage firm having assisted business owners and buyers in the business valuation and business transfer process through its affiliations for the past 30 years. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, the company has senior trusted professionals with a deep knowledge based in multiple field offices along the East Coast and has performed hundreds of business valuations in its history. The firm’s competitive transaction fees are based on successfully completing transactions. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777 or

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Client Testimonials

“I had been in touch with Karin and Gary from A Neumann & Associates regarding some opportunities and was looking forward to meeting with them. Hence, when they organized a seminar in Princeton, NJ, I was quick to sign up. The seminar was very informative as the team walked the attendees through various scenarios and referenced real life buying/selling situations they had been through. The sessions by Gary, Karin and Achim were crisp and focused and brought clarity to potential seller and buyers. I strongly recommend the team and look forward to continue working with them.”

Gaurav Tyagi

“Thank you for your Event on "How to value, Sell, and Buy A Business for Maximum Profit" and the insight into ANA’s approach on what is involved in the Business Exit for sellers. Garys Hervieiou's "Business Valuation", Achim's "Deal structure" presentation and Karin’s "Preparing the Package" are real street knowledge shared. They answered attendees questions which makes it more interesting for learning from others. Great for small businesses like us. The presentations were totally worth our time and travel for the event to Princeton, NJ from Rockville MD. Ravi Bhutani, President, CIPS”

Ravi Bhutani

“Gary, this is to thank you for an excellent job done in selling our business. We could never have done it without your professional expertise, dedication and time put in without reservation to make it happen. We will gladly and highly recommend you to anybody in our position.  It was a pleasure to work with you.”

Pat Iammatteo, Owner

“Your vetting is simply outstanding, among the best I've seen from a broker.”

Eric H., Investor

“I recently contacted A. Neumann and Associates about getting a valuation of my business done. I spoke with Marc, who explained the process in detail. After meeting with Marc in order to get a clear understanding of my business, and what I was hoping to accomplish. His patience in answering all my questions and his knowledge of the proper way to market my business gave me great confidence that this is the firm I will be using to sell my business for max value. Working with Marc at A Neumann & Associates was very easy and professional. I did not know all that was going to be involved in selling my business but they helped me through the process. What I thought was going to be a just another one of those pushy sales companies was just the opposite. Polite, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to talk to and deal with. I highly recommend this firm to anybody who wants to sell now or down the road. Marc not only knows his stuff, but actually is a real nice guy.”

Double Diamond

“Used A Neumann & Associates to sale my business. could not imagine having done it with out the patience and experience Gary provided. Thanks Gary,”

Dennis Frazier

“Working with Marc and his company was a pleasure. What I thought was going to be a just another one of those pushy sales companies was just the opposite. Polite, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to talk to and deal with. Marc handled most of the interaction and he has one of the greatest demeanors. Again, it was a pleasure working with him and his firm.”

Douglas DiCeglio

“I recently completed an acquisition using A Neumann & Associates. Tony Valentino was very helpful and accessible during the entire process. They do a thorough job vetting both parties and got us to the finish line.”

Srini Mudambi

“Claus out of Florida helped us with the sale of our business. We had never done anything like this and him and his team walked us through the process from start to finish. We had some challenges through the process and Claus continued to show up even in the difficult conversations.”

Colby Harris, Co-Owner, Del Mar Designs

“Claus Madsen thoroughly helped us with selling our company. From the 1st introductory meeting explaining to us what was possible, to providing us with resources to assist with the sale. Claus was invaluable throughout the whole sales process. Claus was with us every step of the journey and always made himself available for any questions or issues that came up along the way. If you are interested in selling your business, I encourage you to reach out to Claus and the ANA team so that they can let you know what’s achievable. These guys will make it happen!”

Ron Harris, Co-Owner and Vice President, Del Mar Designs
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If you are considering selling your business, please contact us to learn more about our comprehensive service spectrum. Our experienced professionals will answer all your questions about selling a privately held business in complete confidentiality. Please fill out our contact form, or call us at 732-872-6777. We will contact you directly and will never identify ourselves to your employees.

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