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The new year is in full swing. Your resolutions might already have taken a hit, but there’s still a chance to set some goals and sell your business. Sale prices for healthy businesses continue to rise, driving owner confidence. No wonder so many owners are eager to sell. Yet many owners find themselves disappointed at valuation. Failure to prepare can tank a sale before it even gets off the ground, lowering value and slowing the entire process.

You need a well-thought-out exit strategy to get the most value from your business. Here are three tips for making 2019 the year your business sells.

Move Now
The market is promising, but rising markets never last forever. Sooner or later, the recession will come. GDP is expected to slow approaching 2020, and the election may further affect things. There’s no better time to sell than now because we do not know what the future holds. If you wait and prices drop, it could be several years before the market recovers.

Baby Boomer business owners are also fueling the market with a significant inventory supply. They’re expected to sell or transfer nearly $10 trillion in assets in the next decade or two. That’s slightly lowering prices, though this is a trend that will not relent any time soon. Indeed, it may accelerate as more Baby Boomers enter the market in anticipation of retirement.

Invest in Your Company
Some owners wait to sell until they already have one foot out the door. Don’t let this be you. Now is the time to be more proactive than ever, investing in your business to help elevate it to greater heights of success. Buyers hate risk. They want to invest in a business that’s been set up to succeed over the long-term. Upgrade your equipment. Step up marketing efforts. Get rid of old or obsolete inventory, and ensure all of your intellectual property is fully transferable. Not only does this confer value; it also inspires buyer confidence.

Get Your Financials in Order
Interest rates and labor costs are rising, driving higher overhead that can sap revenues. Small businesses continue to struggle to compete with the cushy benefits and salaries larger corporations offer. In the third quarter of 2018 alone, labor costs increased by nearly a percent.

With so many healthy businesses o the market, buyers are investing in due diligence, looking to critically assess the long-term profitability of every business. They want a good explanation of revenue declines, even small ones. Though revenue declines may be small, you must still have a good explanation for what drives them—and how your business can rebound.

Clean up your financial documents and produce consistent reports. Buyers will want profit and loss statements and balance sheets for at least the prior three years, though five years is even better.

The market is strong now, but no one can predict the future. So if you want to sell, now may be your best chance—and the last opportunity before a recession lowers values and tightens the market.

When you’re selling a business in middle-market manufacturing, service, or distribution, rely on the team with a combined century of experience in mergers and acquisitions: ASG Partners. We help you increase business valuation, prepare for sale, and close the deal.