Selling a Business

Thinking of selling a business in the UK? Having worked hard to build your business, it’s vital that you appoint an experienced agent when the time comes to move on. Preparing the business for sale and getting the marketing strategy right are vital to ensure a successful outcome. Whether you’re selling your first business or you’ve been involved in multiple sales, our step-by-step guide outlines the key stages in the selling process with practical tips.

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Stage 1: Planning for your sale in advance

Start early stages of exit planning

As a business owner, you’ll probably have an approximate exit date in mind. It makes sense to take professional advice well in advance of that date to ensure you’re fully aware of all the financial and commercial implications of a sale. Many clients contact us months or even years in advance of a potential sale. At Christie & Co, we’re always happy to chat with business owners about the current market, even if the time isn’t quite right to sell. 

Conduct an initial appraisal

One of the most important considerations when selling is to arrange an accurate and realistic assessment of the likely worth of your business. Your Christie & Co agent will visit the business at a time to suit so that we can understand your objectives and provide a detailed appraisal of the business based on trading and operational information and our own experience of selling similar businesses to yours. 

Adding value to your business

To maximise your business’s value and eventual sale price, there may be opportunities for you to enhance its saleability and attractiveness to potential buyers. Through a thorough evaluation of your business, we’ll advise you precisely where these opportunities are so that when you go to market, you’ll have the very best chance of a successful sale.

Keep abreast of the market

Our agent will remain in touch with you after your initial meeting to update you on market changes and relevant business sales in your sector and area. We can also amend our appraisal if there are material changes to your business at any stage during the sale process. 

Understand who's buying

It’s often important to business owners to whom their business is sold. We can advise about the different types of buyer in the market (independent, small groups, corporates) and the pros and cons of each to help you decide which fits your business best

Marketing strategy

We will advise you on the optimum time to market your business, likely buyer types, the time it will take to sell and of course, likely sale price. An appropriate strategy will be agreed to suit your requirements and once you’ve instructed us to progress, it’s good for us to speak with your accountant and solicitor who will be acting for you.  

Stage 2: On the market

Prepare the business for sale

Once you’re ready to sell and we are formally engaged to act for you, it’s vital that you’re fully prepared to go to market. We will prepare high quality marketing literature to present your business in its best possible light. We’ll also prepare a pack of supplementary information to provide to interested parties with your approval. The better prepared you are for sale, generally the better the outcome! 

Launch the business for sale

Once everything is agreed, it’s time to launch the business for sale. This can be overt or confidential, depending on the business and your requirements. We make direct approaches to our contacts in your sector whom we know to be seeking businesses like yours, providing information and answering any initial questions. 

Managing viewings

When interested buyers wish to view the business, we’ll brief you on their background and the reason they’re interested – while our colleagues at Christie Finance will ensure the party has the necessary financial resources. 

When you show an interested party around, it’s always good to accentuate the positives; but don’t be afraid to point out areas where you feel the business could be improved. These represent opportunities for a potential new owner. 

Viewing feedback

Following a viewing, we’ll provide feedback and will also ask you for yours for the prospective buyer. If they’re genuinely interested in pursuing a purchase, further information is provided to them to enable them to formulate an offer. 

Review offers

Once a serious buyer has viewed the business (often more than once) and reviewed the further information provided, they may make an offer. This will be reported to you in writing with evidence of the buyer’s financial position. 

We’ll carefully review any offer conditions and advise you on the strength of the offer so that you can make a fully informed decision. It’s often helpful to include your solicitor and accountant in these discussions to ensure you’ve considered all legal and financial angles. We take time to discuss the merits of the offer with you, but never put you under any pressure to accept an offer. 

Selling your Business?

Our expert team of commercial property professionals are ready to provide you with all the advice and support you need to make the best business decisions.

Stage 3: From sale agreed to completion day

Offer acceptance

If you’re ready to accept the offer, the sale will be agreed subject to contract. Once ‘Heads of Terms’ have been agreed, expect a very busy few weeks ahead as the buyer and their advisors undertake detailed due diligence checks. It’s good to be prepared well in advance of this stage; Christie & Co can provide a copy of a typical Due diligence questionnaire (‘DDQ’) that a buyer’s solicitor will work to. This will help you prepare some of the information required. 

Depending on the buyer’s position, it’s likely there will be an independent formal business valuation if the buyer is taking out a loan. This could involve both business and property, if the freehold is being sold. 

The legal process

A detailed contract of sale will be negotiated between solicitors, often with accountants being closely involved. Depending on the business sector, it may also be necessary to submit applications to regulatory bodies to amend registration. 


Depending on whether you’re selling assets or shares, it may be necessary to ‘consult’ with staff prior to completion under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) regulations. There are also a number of other important pre-completion matters to be attended to, such as ensuring all deliverables have been provided to the buyer. 

Exchange and complete

This is the final step, where contracts are exchanged and the sale is completed! You may be exiting the business upon the completion date, or alternatively you might have agreed to continue working for a defined period.

Selling a Business FAQs