I Wasn’t Planning on Selling My Small Business – Are You?

I emigrated to Canada in 2001. After a few years of gaining Canadian work experience, I decided it was time to start my own company.
I wanted something easy to manage that would keep my creative juices flowing. Fashion accessories were my best friends since my teenage years. I was chubby and it was hard to find clothing in my size in South America. Dressing up in plain colours and adding a colourful accessory always kept me fashionable and in style.
I started by sewing funky scarves and selling them at universities, senior homes and schools. Success came quickly. People loved them so much as Christmas presents that the first holiday season I sewed and sold over 400 scarves!
That was the beginning of a business that grew quite quickly. As I couldn’t keep up with the demand, I started to import scarves and other accessories from around the world. Soon thereafter, I was blessed that my husband wanted to join the company to run the administration and financial part of the business. Eight years later we had a storefront and twelve full time employees. We were running three pop-up stores simultaneously, as well as a warehouse full of stock. I was on top of every single detail of the business. I was the only one who knew this business’ ins and outs.
And then the unexpected happened. One day, a customer asked me the magic question: Is your business for sale? Honestly, I never thought about it. I talked to my husband and he thought it was a great idea! He was ready for retirement! He contacted a broker who specialized in selling businesses. She started to ask questions that I couldn’t answer with precision. I only knew estimate numbers and quantities. She sent me to do some homework and only then I realized that my company wasn’t ready to be on the market for sale.
What I Needed to Do to Get Ready
It was only then that I realized how much work goes into selling a business. Here are some of the things we needed to take care of before selling:

  • We bought software -Shopify- to organize the business
  • We entered every product, every supplier and every customer
  • We counted the inventory (that was an eye opener! I couldn’t believe how much money I had there)
  • Shopify included multiple points of sale that allowed me to watch live sales in order to control theft and restock the sold items for the next show
  • We streamlined every process possible
  • The software allowed me to have a better understanding of my business with the flexible report system included. I could see daily, monthly and yearly sales reports by location, by employee, and by best selling products.
  • We created clear return policies, company policies and employee policies
  • I started to pay close attention to the particulars of each job and began to attach appropriate job descriptions to them. I created a document in relation to each position outlining the job expectations and task to be fulfilled
  • I refreshed the look and feel of the company by rebranding with a new logo, business card and banner.
  • I developed training videos on how to merchandize, how to deliver amazing customer service, how to use the software, and how to run our cash register.
  • I renewed all my contracts and agreements with the different venues and requested to add a clause in case we sold the business to make it transferable to the new buyers.
  • We created an asset list including purchase prices and current market values. (The worth of tangible assets is important to business buyers)
  • We documented every process we used at the store including wholesale customers, parties and different venues.
  • We requested financial statements from our accountant for the past three years and all government documents needed.

It took a full year of hard work to have the company ready for sale, with exact inventories, clear reports sales, financial statements and all the processes streamlined, documented and in place.
Now the broker was ready to give us the market value for our business. But that is a whole new blog for another day..
I hope you can use some of my experience to make yours much easier!
Please feel free to contact me for further questions at [email protected]