Selling Your Business Checklist
The success of building a profitable Amazon FBA business becomes a little sweeter when you’re in a position to sell for a profit. Regardless of what your initial goals were when launching your e-commerce brand, there may come a time when selling is the most lucrative option. Following a checklist is a valuable way to maximize your exit opportunity.
Below are key steps to selling your FBA business. These steps are useful whether you’re in the beginning stages of considering a sale or have already started the valuation process.
Organize Your Financials
Keeping accurate records of your business from the beginning is highly beneficial. You can use these organized records to track revenue trends, properly file taxes, and potentially, sell your business. Maintaining these records from the start will save you a lot of time and energy, especially when it is time to create your business exit strategy.
The documents you will need include:
- Financial statements dating back at least three years
- Copies of filed tax returns dating back at least three years
- Revenue, inventory, and customer reports
- Additional reports detailing your assets (e.g., intellectual property documentation)
You will also want to maintain other relevant documentation associated with the financial operations of your business. Potential buyers will have a robust list of requests.
Scrub Contact Lists
Another category to add to your ‘selling a business checklist’ is contact information. You should proactively scrub all contact lists, including lists of customers and suppliers. Review these lists regularly to ensure your contacts are up to date, and remove any duplicates. For example:
- Customer information
- Newsletter subscribers
- Supplier contacts and account numbers
- Web hosting contact and log-in credentials, if applicable
- Social media and customer service log-in credentials
Essentially, you’ll want a clean list of all the people involved in your business, defined by role. This information, provided in an easy-to-understand format, makes the transfer process during the business sale seamless.
As you’re considering the steps to selling your Amazon FBA business, you should decide if it’s the right time to sell. For example, investigate ways to increase sales, if you have recently experienced a decline, before seeking out a potential buyer. This can support your efforts in achieving the payout you want.
A prospective buyer will have a minimum revenue target that must be met before a sale is considered. To boost sales, implement or adjust the following:
- Launch marketing campaigns, including newsletters, social media, and paid ads
- Introduce new products to reach a broader audience base
- Optimize product descriptions to increase search visibility
- Initiate shipping or sales incentives during a high buying time (e.g., Black Friday, holiday sales, etc.)
Optimizing your product descriptions is one of the first strategies you should implement to increase sales. Incorporating highly-searched keywords, updating product information, and providing hi-res images are all tactics to improve your visibility on the platform, and increase click-through and conversion rates. All of these efforts point to the ultimate goal of generating more sales.
Updating your inventory is also important. Avoid holding a surplus of products that aren’t going to sell. This situation can negatively impact your business valuation and can result in higher storage fees. Ensure you have an accurate record of your product inventory and can gauge when you’ll need to refill your inventory and/or sunset product listings.
Maintaining up to date inventory records can be complex, but Amazon’s platform makes it easier for sellers. Areas to check for errors, and resolve, prior to selling your business are:
- Duplicate inventory listings
- Suppressed listings
- Blocked listings
Duplicate inventory listings are a violation of Amazon’s policies and may result in your listing being suppressed or rejected, which can affect sales. To fix, simply go to “Manage Inventory” in Seller Central and click on “Potential Duplicates”. Then, go to “Review Duplicates” to see which duplicates appear. If there are any listed, Amazon allows 30 days to review and respond, after which they will suppress the listing from the search.
Suppressed listings may also occur when the proper character count isn’t followed, or other criteria standards aren’t met. This applies to images as well. Additionally, you may face problems with your inventory and subsequent sales if a pricing error exists in your listings. If detected, Amazon will notify you of a potential deactivation until the pricing is corrected.
It’s important to track the status of your inventory regularly. You’ll want all discrepancies resolved prior to having your business evaluated for sale.
Determine Your Business Valuation
Before you begin performing an internal calculation of your business valuation, you will want to learn how to value your business. Use earnings multiples and calculate your online business’s projected worth. Estimate your company's earnings over the next few years and multiply it by a price-to-earnings ratio using a benchmark multiple for a business that is comparable to your own. This will make for a much larger payout, compared to selling your assets or inventory alone. Consider the following when calculating your business valuation, in addition to net profit:
- Peak sales season
- Market value of businesses similar to yours
- Proof of assets that add to its worth
Ensure you’re presenting records to a potential buyer that highlight your peak sales season. Providing context to your reporting is valuable if you sell products that typically draw more buyers during a specific time period.
Also, performing market research of similarly-sized businesses in your product category will help inform your own business valuation. Finally, consider the value of your brand, including the size of your customer base, social media following, newsletter subscriptions, and other metrics and documents that will raise your company’s value in the eyes of a prospective buyer.
Find a Buyer
Once you’ve performed your due diligence of a business valuation, find a reputable buyer that is experienced in Amazon FBA business acquisitions and transactions. It will narrow down your options and focus on the most viable opportunities. Determine, in advance, whether you meet a buyer’s criteria. At Forum, we’re interested in companies with:
- 70% or more of sales through Amazon FBA
- Demonstrated financial success of at least $200K in net profit (SDE) in the last year
- Differentiated products that consumers love in categories that are core to everyday life
- Strong, reputable brands founded by passionate entrepreneurs
At Forum, eligible sellers will also be able to cash out years of profits in one day and close a deal in 30 days or less. Selling your business to Forum also gives you entry into our community if you plan to seek out a new venture. Compared to other avenues, you’ll save on business broker and listing fees, in addition to the sale being executed on a shorter timeline.
Prepare a Business Exit Strategy
Once you’re to the final stages of selling your online business, preparing a business exit strategy is crucial in ensuring you have everything organized, updated, and ready to go. Business exit planning will prevent any delays in the sale of your company. A few of the items left on the checklist include:
- Performing a final review of your documents and adding your signature
- Transferring any remaining log-in credentials and contact information
- Communicating the transition to your employees and customers
When it comes down to the final days before the business sale is official, most of the work has already been done during the valuation process. However, you’ll want to make sure everything is complete with respect to document signing and contact transfers.
Part of this final stage also involves considering how to alert people involved with your business of the acquisition. Clarity and confidence help set the tone of the message. Honor the investment you’ve put into building a great brand by ensuring a proper closure at the end.
Deciding When to Sell
A business owner is driven by all kinds of reasons when it comes to selling their business. Some may be ready to take on a new venture. Others may be ready to simply hand the workload over to someone else and reap the benefits of past hard work.
Whatever the scenario looks like for you, each step of the process requires careful planning and strategy to prevent disruption and make the transition go more smoothly. By taking time to adequately prepare, you’ll position your company to be at the top of its game prior to selling.
A checklist of the steps to selling a business will help to break down what can be a complex undertaking, into smaller, manageable actions. It will keep you on track toward your goal and ensure your Amazon FBA business is presented in the best possible light.
If you’re looking for additional information regarding the sale of your Amazon FBA business, follow the link provided to learn about the questions to ask before selling your business.