Assuming you want to sell your business as a growing concern (not just a sale of its stock and assets), you need to think very carefully about the timing of your sale. Selling at the wrong time, or before you’ve properly prepared your business for sale, can drastically reduce the sale price.
You should consider external market trends, such as whether your particular sector is enjoying growth and interest from buyers. More importantly, however, look in detail at your business and address any issues that might be off-putting to a potential buyer. As with any kind of sale, your business is only worth what the highest bidder is willing to pay, so you need to focus on making your business as attractive as possible.
An important step in this process is to make sure that the business will continue to run and thrive without you, particularly if you’ve personally built your company from the ground up. If you look like an essential and irreplaceable part of the business, this will certainly discourage potential buyers. You should therefore put in place a strong management team and make sure you have a skilled workforce. You should also get your accounts in order and up to date and settle any outstanding tax payments and other liabilities.
You can enlist the help of a business transfer agent to advise and help you with your sale. Alternatively you can make a private sale, invite bids or offer your business at a commercial auction. The proceeds of the sale will be subject to capital gains tax, but you may be eligible for entrepreneurs tax relief.