Avoid selling mistakes

by Andrew Morgan - QTHB 3rd of August, 2022

Avoid selling mistakes
© Kenny Eliason – unsplash.com

How much easier would life be if we never made a mistake?

On the flip side, we would never learn from our mistakes either. Given the choice I would prefer to be able to say I have never made a mistake. That way I would never have that horrible feeling of “how did I mess that up”.

With anything we do in life trying to minimise the mistakes made along the way would seem human nature. Trying to lessen the negative impact on ourselves is a self-protective measure. Having said that, some must have very little self-protective measures, as they seem to encourage it. Some of us are very hard on ourselves when we make a mistake, whereas others can shrug it off quickly and move on.  I guess it depends on how big of a mistake it is and what the fallout is, monetary, physical, mental, relationship wise, etc.

The sale process of a business is no different to any other situation where mistakes are made, it just depends on how big those mistakes are in the scheme of things. Small mistakes may not cause too many issues; however, those larger ones may end up being catastrophic and result in a contract of sale collapsing and therefore potentially costing the seller millions of dollars. Here are a few basic tips for anyone selling a business that may assist in achieving the desired result or minimising any damage during the sale process.

Be ready

Make sure everything is fully prepared and ready for the process to commence. Too many times I have seen a potential sale collapse either early or late in the process due to the seller not being fully prepared. This means many things but, physical documentation and being mentally prepared are two that first come to mind. It is no good gaining the interest of a potential buyer only to be tardy in providing documentation. Also, not fully committing mentally to the sale will be a problem. Many sellers think they are ready to sell but when an interested buyer is presented (when it starts to get real) the wheels can fall off very quickly, and any hesitation on behalf of the seller will see a buyer lose interest, as fast as they showed it in the first place.

Poor choices

Choices are what we must live with once they are made. Not often do we get a second chance once the milk is spilt. The sale process is of course made up of one long line of choices that need to be made at each point in time. Making the right choices results in champagne on settlement day, opposed to walking away bitter, due to a lesser result being achieved because of poor choices. Often it is better to sit back and consider a decision carefully rather than take things personally and reacting quickly and poorly as a consequence. Experience is a big factor here and often experienced sellers will be far more relaxed in their decision making. Having the experience to be less emotional over decisions and realise they are to be made with a calm head, ensures a better result.

Bird in the hand

The market for businesses often depends on the business type and what is required to be able to operate that business successfully. Motels and accommodation businesses generally have a ready market for many reasons. This ensures that sellers can find a buyer if they are fully prepared and have priced their business according to the market. However, this is not to say that potential buyers of motel businesses grow on trees. At times the market will be very active, and other times, not so much, meaning buyers may not be active in the market therefore the business may take longer to sell or may not be able to achieve a high price. When one has found a genuine, fully funded potential buyer for their business, the question should be “what can I do for you to make this happen?”. Not trying to make things difficult or put-up roadblocks to the process because of the inability to see the big picture.

Give and take

I always like the saying “you need to give a bit to get a bit”. I think that if a seller can think about that saying when going through the sale process, they will end up achieving a better result. It simply means doing things for the process, to receive something back. It’s not about bowing down and accepting every request that may or may not be reasonable, it means a level of generosity will come back to you in time. An adjunct to this is putting yourself in the other party’s shoes. Trying to understand why they requested what they have and therefore a more suitable rather than emotive response can be made. I think trying to understand where the buyer is coming from can help provide a response that is positive to the situation, rather than being abrasive.

And finally, often during the sale process the buyer is not only buying the business one is selling, but they are also investing in the seller to some extent. The credibility of the seller will go a long way to ensuring a smooth sale process. It's not always possible, but when the buyer and seller have a mutual respect for each other, the sale process is far more rewarding for all involved.

Queensland Tourism & Hospitality Brokers

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