I want to sell my practice but where do I start?

I want to sell my practice but where do I start IRIS | I want to sell my practice but where do I start?
By James Nadal | 22nd November 2019 | 15 min read

You’ve been thinking about it for a while, but it seems like such an immense and daunting task that you simply don’t know where to start.

We’re talking about planning an exit and selling your accountancy practice.

There are various reasons you may want to sell. You might be approaching retirement, planning a new lifestyle or your circumstances may be changing.

Whatever the motivation, it is never going to be a decision you are going to take lightly or, indeed, something done in haste.

So, where do you start?

Coming up with a plan

If you’re serious about selling and getting the maximum value for the years you’ve spent building it up to this stage, you can’t just do it overnight. It’s not something you should attempt to rush.

You need a plan (the longer the better) to get it into the best possible shape.

And, as part of that, you need to think about what factors determine the value of your business. This may be the state of your financial records, your client base, growth opportunities and competition.

You need to spend time assessing the current state of your business, the strengths and the weaknesses, and then plan how to improve those areas letting you down. We’ll take you through these steps in detail in the next blogs in this series. And you can download the guide here.

In order to get the best possible outcome and the optimal price, you need to put your practice on the market when it is performing at its peak, with everything in place that a buyer would want.

Use your house as a blueprint

Although you’ve probably not sold a business before

there’s something you probably have done before which has numerous parallels - selling a house. The same basic principles apply.

Exit planning is about having a very similar mentality to selling your home – thinking about how to make enhancements to make it as enticing as it possibly can be.

Is your carpet ragged, dirty and old? Tear it out and replace it. Does your bathroom wallpaper make you feel like you’re in a 1980s time warp? Strip it off and get the paint out.

There’s an equivalent for each of these examples for your practice – you just have to identify them.

Time for some upgrades

The savviest homeowners don’t just simply put their house up for sale and attempt to flog it as quickly as they can. They assess what’s not looking appealing to potential buyers and then invest time and money into making it as presentable and attractive as possible, in order to obtain the highest price.

All of the work you’re going to be doing to sell your practice is likely to take a long time – probably years - but it’s worth keeping in mind that this effort is not only to the benefit of your future buyer. You’re also a winner because in the meantime you get a more efficient, profitable and easier to manage business.

So, time to think: what parts of your business do you need to upgrade? Which bits of your business are like the proverbial ugly carpet and which metaphorical walls do you need to repaint?

We explore in much greater depth how to begin planning your exit in our guide here – free for you to download. Read this for a comprehensive understanding of the factors you need to consider and the steps you might want to take.

Read the next blogs in our series to discover how you can maximise value, get the best price, and what you must avoid doing.

Looking to get your practice into shape? Find out more about practice management and how it can benefit your firm whether selling or not.

In the meantime, if you’d like a conversation with any of our exit planning specialists to understand more about what you’ve read so far, please call 0344 844 9644 or email practicesales@iris.co.uk.