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How to write the perfect business-for-sale listing

How to sell your business fast with the perfect business listing

There’s more to writing a great business listing than you might think – here are our dos and don’ts

Writing an effective listing is a vital stage in the process of selling a business: do it right and you will attract the right sort of buyers from the start. Get it wrong and you will invite unwanted attention and time-wasters.

Before you begin, it’s always worth remembering that prospective buyers already have a good idea of what they’re looking for and will be scanning the business ads, not reading each one in depth.

Your goal, then, should be to include bold keywords and provide just enough information to pique the interest of appropriate buyers. It’s simple: the more of the right kind of buyers you inspire to make an enquiry, the more likely you are to sell your business.

The first three things a buyer will look for are:

  • Type of business
  • Location of business
  • Price

Most buyers know what kind of business they want, where they want it and what they can afford. You can’t really change that, so make sure you have these key features highly visible in your listing so that a potential buyer doesn’t pass you by.

Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you can use your business description to really rein them in.

What to include in a business description

Your objective here is to add just enough information to leave a potential buyer wanting to know more.

While your instinct may be to include every single detail (including the kitchen sink), remember that what you really want is to get the right buyers through the door, so leaving a little to their imagination will make it more likely they will book a viewing.

The ideal business listing will contain up to five positive selling points with a couple of sentences describing each.

What you include will, of course, depend on your individual business and its key selling points, but here are some examples of good things to mention:

  • Popular location with lots of passing trade
  • Plenty of repeat custom
  • Attractive rent /easily transferable lease and renewal prospects
  • Healthy sales and profits
  • Unique and patented products
  • An offer to stay on for handover and/or training
  • Key staff willing to stay on
  • Any additions to the property including live-in accommodation
  • Potential for growth and development
  • Seller financing available

Before you write your listing, ask yourself what its unique selling points are and be sure to include them. This can be anything that will improve the quality of life of the new owner – from delightful clientele to picturesque surroundings and attractive working hours.

What not to include in a business listing

There will be plenty of unsuitable prospects scouring the business listings and you don’t want them wasting your valuable time.

Wannabe buyers with poor credit ratings or cunning sharks who want to buy a business well below its market value will soon come calling if you don’t advertise your business in the right way.

Here are some things to leave out of your business listing:

  • Never include ONO (‘Or Nearest Offer’): This will lure every timewaster or chancer around. And you will just sound desperate – not a good signal to a legitimate buyer.
  • Don’t overdo the superlatives. This will also make you appear suspiciously keen to sell. ‘Healthy profits’ is fine; a ‘goldmine’ is a bit much.
  • If you are selling under pressure – eg due to illness, divorce or financial problems – under no circumstances give this away; you will only invite low offers. Retirement or ‘pursuing other business interests’ are fine to disclose.
  • If confidentiality is an issue ­­– perhaps you haven’t told staff you’re planning to sell ­– be sure to omit the business’s exact location. Wait until you have a serious contender. Also, make sure you have the correct Non Disclosure Agreement in place. 

Include great pictures

And finally, don’t forget to include some flattering photographs of your business.

 It may be tempting to scrimp at this stage, but remember that any prospective business owner will want to envisage themselves in the property itself – so help them conjure a particularly appealing image!

So hire a professional: they can do wonders with a wide-angle lens and it’ll be well worth the cost in the end.

If you’re feeling invigorated, and ready to list your business for sale, then your next step is here.

Nicky Tatley

About the author

Nicky contributes articles to all titles in the Dynamis stable, primarily, and and is a regular contributor to other business publications including Talk Business, and NuWire Investor.