6 steps to sell your business

Selling your business brings both practical and emotional challenges. From planning to the handover, read our 6 tips to guide you through the process.

1. Consider your situation and approach

Are you thinking about selling your business? There is a lot to consider. Preparing for and completing a sale is complex and takes time. Start by answering some basic questions for yourself. For example, why do you want to sell? When do you want to sell? How will you do it? What will your income be after the sale? A sale can also be necessary because of urgent circumstances. Perhaps because of illness or you receive an unexpected offer. Are you prepared for an emergency?

2. Prepare to sell

When certain that you want to sell, the next step is to prepare the business for sale. Make a valuation of your business and set the asking price. Refine your handover plan. And decide if you want to stay involved in the business after the sale, and in what way. If the handover is to a family member or an employee, help them to prepare for their new role. If selling to a third party, create an information memorandum.

Tip: Use the SME Diagnostic Tool (in Dutch). The tool gives you insight into the financial health, online visibility, and value of your company. Answer the questions to receive a tailor-made advice report with tips for your next step.

3. Find a buyer

In this step, you will look for a buyer. If there is no potential buyer from your family or within the business, there are ways to find a buyer. Ask your accountant or trade association for tips and connections. Or register your business in an anonymous sales database. This lets potential buyers view the information memorandum. Serious candidates can then find more extensive information in a memorandum of sale.

4. Go from contact to contract

The sale of your business is in sight. In this phase, you go from 'contact to contract'. You are in contact with a serious buyer and the sales process has started. They will examine the correctness of all information. When both parties are satisfied, negotiations begin (in Dutch). These include, for example, the price and conditions of transfer. They may also include agreements on your involvement after the sale. Record all agreements in a letter of intent. After due diligence, the buyer will examine the business accounts. Some renegotiations may be necessary. Both parties can now sign the final agreement. The sale of your business will be final when you sign the purchase agreement.

5. The handover

The handover is a formal moment when the business is transferred to the new owner. You receive the money from the sale. You must also update the registration details in the Business Register to record the change of ownership. Close your business accounts and prepare the final tax returns as an entrepreneur. 

6. After the handover

With the sale of your business behind you, it is time to look forward. You may still be involved with your old business, as an advisor or because you provided a loan to the buyer. But you also have more free time and financial means.

Find out more about selling your business

Delve deeper into these six steps with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK’s Guide to Selling Your Business (PDF, in Dutch).

Video: Ending your business