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Take a look at Calhoun Companies' blog written by our business brokers in Minnesota for advice & guidance in buying & selling a business!

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Minnesota Business magazine: More Small-business Owners Selling Companies -- and Learning Lessons Along the Way

by Rose McKinney
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Monday, 08 December 2014 Category Industry 0 Comments

As economy rebounds, brokerages report better-performing businesses, more cash-ready buyers, and more sellers in the marketplace.

By Dan Emerson, Minnesota Business


andyRegardless of industry, target market, or other factors, no one stays in business forever. For most entrepreneurs, the ideal outcome is selling the business at the “right” time — however that may be defined — for a nice profit.

Of course, business deals don’t occur in a vacuum. Current conditions in a given industry and the overall economy have a major impact on transactions, helping determine the size of the prospective buyer pool, negotiating challenges, and ultimate sale price. The recent recession had a dampening effect, but the rebounding economy has led to increased sales-and-acquisition activity, as reported by business brokers.

Andy Kocemba, president of Edina-based Calhoun Companies, Minnesota’s oldest and largest business brokerage, has experienced the uptrend firsthand. He cites several reasons for it, as listed by the International Business Brokers Association: more cash-ready buyers in the market; better-performing businesses, which makes them more attractive to prospective buyers; more confidence and less uncertainty among buyers; and more sellers in the marketplace.

The recession not only had a negative impact on business performance, but it also took a bite out of retirement accounts, causing many company owners to postpone selling. Recently, “more business owners have been able to build back up to where they once were and are again in position to sell,” says Kocemba, who runs Calhoun Companies along with his father, Wally Kocemba.

One of the first steps in considering the sale of a business is usually enlisting the help of a qualified business broker. The latter can access and market to the business-for-sale marketplace, navigate the universe of potential buyers, and achieve the desired outcome.

“Our business is about connecting people and building trust, because to some degree the buyer and seller are working together,” says Kocemba. “They have a common interest in seeing the deal succeed.”

The broker’s focus on getting the deal done allows the business owner to concentrate on running a successful business. “It’s a process that does take some time, and if a business owner loses focus and drops the ball for even a few months, that can have a negative effect on the numbers,” Kocemba points out.

According to Craig Arends, a business broker, CPA, and partner with Minneapolis-based CliftonLarsenAllen, one of the crucial steps in selling a business is arriving at a fair, realistic, and empirically supported valuation for the enterprise. It’s also an area with potential pitfalls. Less experienced owners, he notes, sometimes make the mistake of starting with an arbitrary target price. “Someone might say, ‘My company is going to be priced at eight times EBITDA.’ ” But valuation, he says, is based on a number of factors, including recent, current, and projected revenue growth; industry trends; degree of customer concentration; and quality and age of the management team.

Also, “transition date” and “retirement date” are often negotiable points in a merger or acquisition deal, Arends notes. Typically, a buyer will be willing to pay a little more for a management team and ownership that is going to stick around, if only on a temporary basis. “If the seller’s group retains some percentage of minority ownership and has ‘skin in the game,’ that will give you greater valuation, as well,” he says.

Small-business acquisitions are most often financed by a bank, with a combination of cash-down and seller-financing, according to Kocemba. His firm often uses business acquisition loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which can generally qualify up to 70 percent of the loan amount. In a typical case, the buyer might make a 20 percent down payment, with the seller financing another 10 percent. Helping buyers secure suitable financing is another one of the broker’s functions.

Kocemba counsels business owners that “it’s never too early to start thinking about selling your business. Even if you are only a few years into a startup, you should always have an exit plan in mind, because — one way or another — every owner eventually leaves the business.” Following, the stories of business owners who recently sold their companies — and the lessons they learned along the way.


To read the rest of the article in Minnesota Business, click here.


Tags: Minnesota business, sellers, small business, lessons, industry, tips, business advice, advice, selling a business, selling
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Selling Your Business Can Take An Emotional Toll

by Rose McKinney
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Most business owners would tell you that their business is much like their baby. They work hard to build it up, trying to do all the right things along the way, but know full well they will stumble here and there. 

Still, when the business matures and reaches a point where it is attractive to a potential buyer, letting go can be quite difficult. 

In fact, when business owners sell their business for a pretty penny, many of them can slump into a deep, dark depression. 

And the misery can worsen when founders stay on board to help run their former business. 

Judith Glaser, an executive coach who has trained many business owners through transitions, liken this mood to the post-partum blues. She says that when someone else comes and takes your (former) business in a new direction, it's "like performing plastic surgery on your child."

The best way to beat the blues, says Glaser, is to give yourself a different framework for your dreams and aspirations. The business that was just sold probably was the vehicle for those dreams and aspirations at one point; now it's time to find a new vehicle. 

To avoid the blues altogether, have another ambition lined up right away. Then foucs hard on that. 

To see how two business owners handled this after they sold the businesses they found, click on this link to see the article on 

Tags: business seller mistakes, preparing to sell your business, selling a business, selling your business
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A Good Time To Sell The Business?

by Rose McKinney
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013 Category Sellers 0 Comments

It seems as if the small-business-for-sale market is warming up as the economic downturn finally makes an upward swing. It also seems that many business owners whose companies' valuation took a hit between 2008 and 2010 are now seeing three years of increasing revenues - a key indicator that banks and buyers typically look at when assessing a deal.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal outlines just how active the market is.

According to, the number of businesses sold between July and September in 2013 is up over the same period of 2012, marking the third year-over-year quarterly increase. tracks transactions reported by business brokers across the U.S. Using this data, it found that by industry,  most sales of businessess this year have been service companies, followed by retailiers and restaurants. It defines small businesses as those with fewer than 500 employees.

In addition, small-business lending has been rising. The SBA backed 12,976 so-called 7(a) loans totaling $5.3 billion in the third quarter, up from 11,442 loans totaling $4.3 billion a year earlier, according to the SBA. These loans can be used to assist in the acquisition of an existing business as well as to establish a new business or expand an existing one, among other uses.

This is a positive trend as there is pent up demand of many baby-boomers wishing to sell their company but couldn't, due to the weakened economy. And it's not just the baby boomers who couldn't find a buyer a few years ago who want to sell. They are joined by others looking to retire this year or switch jobs.

Of course, the improving marketplace is causing some concern that the number of sellers could soon out-pace the number of buyers. After all, some of the 76 million baby boomers - people born between 1946 and 1964 - will be looking to retire in the near future.

So, if you are thinking about selling your business, now might a good time to do so. For information on how Calhoun Companies can help, please contact us.



Tags: finding buyers, buying a business, business financing, baby boomer, selling a business, selling your business
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How to Build a Business You Can Sell

by Rose McKinney
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Wednesday, 07 August 2013 Category Sellers 0 Comments

You are a small business owner and you have no intention of selling your business, at least not for several years. Still, there are a number of things you can do now to set yourself up for a successful sale once the time comes when you do decide to sell. After all, the key to successfully selling your business does not rest solely on luck (although, sometimes a bit of it is involved). Rather, it takes ample planning, hard work and strategy.

So, what should you be doing now to build a sellable small business? Think about what's important from the buyer's perspective. Consider these characteristics that, if attractive to a buyer, will help you yield the best results when your business is eventually listed for sale.


1. Recurring Revenue - Just as recurring revenue is important to you as the business owner, it's also important to a potential buyer. Consistent revenue streams justify paying a higher price.


2. Consistent Profitability - A track record of consistent profitability demonstrates the strength of your business and shows potential a buyer, who most likely will live off the profit as most business owners do, that they can rely on the strength of the business


3. Branding - A brand is an asset that can pay dividends when you are ready to sell your business, but realize, strong brands do not appear overnight. It takes time, effort and money to build your brand but if your brand dominates your target market, it is an investment worth making.


4. Physical Assets - Maintaining a portfolio of physical assets helps a buyer's ability to secure financing as assets reduce risk by providing security in the form of collateral. In other words, having physical assets is a good idea.


5. Recordkeeping - Accurate record-keeping is an important trait in a highly sellable business. If your records don't accurately reflect your business, it can lead to a breach of trust between you and a potential buyer. Having meticulous records, on the other hand, can help drive up the asking price of your business.


Building a business you can sell is not overly complicated but it does take planning, consistency and a bit of effort. To see more tips on this topic, please click here.


Tags: new business owners, small business ownership, preparing to sell your business, selling a business, selling your business
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Retiring and Looking to Sell Your Business?

by Rose McKinney
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Thursday, 30 May 2013 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Many Baby Boomers who are looking to retire finally feel that the time is right to sell their business. And the good news is, they are finding more buyers who are confident in the improving economy to expand their own business through acquisitions. 

In fact, according to a survey by Pepperdine University and two trade groups, the International Business Brokers Association and M&A Source, retirement was the number one factor in business sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

Many business owners who are at retirement age but stuck it out during the recession simply don't want to go through another downturn. If they don't have family members to take over the business, they are selling. And it is the Baby Boomers who will fuel the market for small businesses for years to come, while companies looking to expand will play a key role in the trend.

Check out this article from CNBC that illustrates some great examples, including an acquisition by Twin-Cities own Creative Kidstuff.

To read it, click here.

Tags: selling a business, retirement, growth through acqusition, baby boomer, selling your business
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Calhoun Companies Reports Closing on 10 Transactions in the First Quarter in 2013

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Thursday, 09 May 2013 Category Industry 0 Comments

Calhoun Companies ended the first quarter of 2013 with 10 separate closings, representing nearly $7 million in transactions. Closed transactions include companies within the transportation, publishing and veterinary industries, among others.

“We feel it’s important to provide information regarding the number of small- and medium-sized business transactions. It helps gauge the health of the overall marketplace,” says Andy Kocemba, vice-president and co-owner of Calhoun Companies. “These businesses make up a significant portion of all businesses in Minnesota[1].”

Calhoun Companies views the sales and purchases of small- and medium-sized businesses as a great indicator that the economy is starting to make a comeback. With a market supporting an increased number of transactions, the total number of closings could potentially reach numbers that business brokerages typically saw before the economic downturn.

Small- and medium-sized business owners choose to sell for a variety of reasons, regardless of the state of the economy, with the primary reasons usually involving retirement or the business owner pursuing new endeavors. Calhoun Companies only represents businesses that demonstrate profitable growth prior to selling, and indicate good monetary standing. Further, Calhoun Companies emphasizes that it’s vital to have a sell-plan well before company owners are ready to sell.  

For a look at businesses for sale, you can search Calhoun Companies' extensive listings by clicking here.

[1] Small business make up nearly 98 percent of business in Minnesota, according to the Small Business Association “Profiles for the States and Territories, Minnesota” February, 2013

Tags: 2013 business trends, business brokerage, Businesses for sale, selling a business
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Round Up: Business Valuation Basics

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 Category Sellers 0 Comments

One of the foundational elements to successfully selling your business is knowing what its worth. This month's round up highlights articles on the basics of business valuation.


Demystifying Small Business Valuation

Valuation can make or break a business sale because for many sellers, attaching a dollar value to their company is a touchy subject–especially if they have spent years building it from a fledgling start-up to a profitable ...

Keeping Your Balance: Jointly retained business valuations 

In most cases the process of undergoing a business valuation is very foreign to both parties (and sometimes their attorneys as well). It can easily lead to unnecessary skepticism or paranoia over the genuine independence of ...

Warren Buffett's Favorite Valuation Metric - Business Insider

For the first time since the recovery began, Warren Buffett's favorite valuation metric has breached the 100% level. That, of course, is the Wilshire 5,000 total market cap index relative to GNP. See the chart below for historical ...

Technical Methods of Business Valuation - An Overview 

This article provides you with basic information about business valuation so you can: (i) understand the process and basic concepts; and (ii) be an educated consumer of business valuation services.

Calhoun Companies brokers have experience conducting valuations for all types of businesses. Click here to learn more about our free valuation services.

Tags: selling a business, small business valuation, business valuation
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Are You Prepared to Sell Your Business?

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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 Category Sellers 0 Comments

If you decided to sell your business today, wouldn't it be great if a buyer showed up at your door tomorrow with an offer and a check? Chances of that happening are slim to none, but even if it did happen, would you be prepared right now to make the best possible deal?

The reality is that there are several things meeded to ensure you make the best deal possible when selling your business. The best possible deal is one where you, your family, any stakeholders and the buyer all come out on top.

Here are five things you can do ahead of time to be prepared to sell your business:

  1. Think about your exit strategy ahead of time: Waiting until you are ready to sell, to think about your overall exit strategy is too late.
  2. Be flexible with the timing: Rushing to sell your business because you need to do it fast may keep you from making the best deal.
  3. Be clear about your options for selling: Will it be a cash deal? Will youhold a note? Determine ahead of time what will work best for your situation.
  4. Think like a buyer: Consider what you can do to make your business more attractive to a prospective buyer.
  5. Add a business broker to your network: The sooner you have a trusted professional in your corner, the easier they will be able to assist you once you make a decision to sell.

Want more details about preparing to sell your business, check out this article: Prepare to Sell Your Business on Investopedia. If you are ready to connect to an experienced broker today, click here.

Tags: selling a business, sell my business, business exit strategy
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Selling Your Business to Fund Your Retirement

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Selling your business to fund your retirement can seem like a good idea - if you plan wisely.

Without the right considerations, selling your business could leave you with buyer's remorse and less income than you anticipated. This article from the New York Times blog lists three ways to ensure you have a good plan in place for using the sale of your business to fund your retirement:

  • Start and fund a qualified retirement plan
  • Consider owning the real-estate
  • Do the financial planning before you sell

Click here to read the full post on the You're the Boss blog.




Tags: selling a business, retirement, financial planning
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How to Find a Qualified Buyer for Your Business

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

You’ve worked hard to build your business into a successful enterprise. Now you want to sell it and reap the rewards of all those years of hard work. There are many questions involved with selling a business, however the most important is: How do you locate qualified potential buyers?

Some people say the quantity of buyers who are considering acquiring your business is most significant. Others say the quality of prospective buyers is more important, regardless of number. But the right response is that both are very important. Here’s why:

If you have 50 prospective buyers interested in your business, then you have plenty of quantity. But if you are offering a $1,000,000 manufacturing business and these buyers can only afford a business that costs less than $300,000, or if they all desire a service business, then this “quantity” of potential buyers is a waste of time. You will waste hours speaking to unqualified prospects about the opportunity when they have no interest in actually purchasing it.

Conversely, say you only have two prospective buyers thinking about your business and they are looking to spend at least $1,000,000 on a manufacturing business. You may have excellent buyer “quality” but not sufficient quantity. On average, you need at least 10 or more qualified prospective buyers to consider your business before you can reasonably expect to sell it. And the more qualified potential buyers you have considering your business, the higher the sales price typically is.

In a nutshell, the more qualified buyers you have looking at your business, the faster you will sell your business and the more money you will make on the sale. But how do you get both quantity and quality of buyers interested in your business? The key is to employ several methods of advertising that don’t cost you a fortune.

Word of Mouth Advertising

This method of advertising is very spotty and shouldn't be considered a core form of advertising. Because of its nature, your business is exposed to an extremely minimal quantity of potential buyers that most likely aren’t qualified. As a consequence, this approach of advertising provides neither quantity nor quality, which can make it very ineffective at helping you sell your business.

Classified Ads in the Local Paper

The old-fashioned method of promoting a business for sale was to put a classified ad in one or more newspapers and hope plenty of qualified potential buyers would stumble upon it. This approach is not very successful because you only have a few quick lines of text to tell your complete story and gain interest in your business. This not only reduces the overall quantity of prospective buyers, but you also end up wasting time on a lot of unqualified buyers. As a result, classifieds are usually not very good at producing a high quality or quantity of buyers.

On the Web

Today, one of the most successful method of attracting both the highest quantity and quality of potential buyers interested in your business is by marketing on an online marketplace. These marketplaces are searched by hundreds of thousands of buyers each month, and can generate a staggering amount of interest in your business.

You'll find many online marketplaces to choose from, but they are far from equal. Some have inadequate search capabilities, which mean your quality of prospects will decrease. The better the search functions the site offers, the more precisely buyers can browse for what they want. And when a buyer finds your business, they are usually highly qualified.

Some online marketplaces are just interested in amassing listing fees from you, regardless of whether or not they help you find a buyer. These sites charge a regular monthly listing fee that is not tied to overall performance of any kind. As a result, they may or may not deliver you any qualified buyers, and they really don’t have any incentive to do so.

The most useful business-for-sale marketplaces put their money where their mouth is and only charge sellers on a pay-for-performance basis. With these sites, you post your business for sale on the site and it appears in buyers’ search results when they search for a business that meets their criteria. But you are only charged a small fee if the buyer actually clicks on your posting and views its information. And it is possible to set your own listing price to manage the quantity of potential buyers you want.

Performance-based marketplaces are incredibly efficient and highly effective because you get exposure to the maximum amount of highest quality buyers, but you don’t pay if you don’t have any qualified buyers view your listing.

Business Brokers

Business brokers are typically very professional and experienced in the art of buying and selling a business. Plus they are skilled at supporting sellers through the entire sales process. They can prepare your business for sale and facilitate all discussions with prospective buyers on your behalf.

On top of that, brokers will help build interest in your business from buyers through their connections with other brokers, as well as listing your business for sale on their site.

To get the maximum quality and quantity of buyers interested in your business it is ideal to complement a broker’s services with additional promotion initiatives. You could try this either in conjunction with the broker’s efforts, or on your own.

Tags: finding buyers, business brokers, business brokerage, selling a business
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Two Minute Guide to Selling Your Small Business (Infographic)

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Choosing to sell your business can be a diffucult decision - especially if you have invested many years and hours in building it. Having a good idea of what the selling process entails can help you make a well informed decision, and help ensure you know what to expect. Here's a great visual from the Intuit Small Business Blog that provides a high level overview of the stages of selling your business. (For a more detailed outline: click here to see our four step process.)

Getting Ready to Sell Your Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]
via: Getting Ready to Sell Your Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC] Tags: infographic, small business, selling a business
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What Should I Think About When Planning to Sell My Business?

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Wednesday, 22 August 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

While getting top dollar for your business is a priority, it’s not the only thing on the minds of business owners with an exit strategy. In a recent post, Initial Considerations When Selling Your Business ( identified five things to think about:

  • What’s most important to you right now? Is it money, ensuring that your employees get to stay in their jobs, making sure that other family members have a say in the process?
  • What legal considerations are necessary? As a partner or shareholder are you bound to certain guidelines or agreements?
  • What are ethically responsible for? It may not be legally required, but ethically there may be information you need to disclose.
  • Is now the best time to start the process? In most cases, selling a business is a longer rather than shorter process – do you have the time and energy to start and complete the process.
  • What support do you need? Going solo through the selling process is a big risk. Having the help of a business broker for valuation and other steps in the sales process ensures a smoother ordeal.

You can read the full article here: Initial Considerations When Selling Business

Tags: ethically selling your business, business sellers, selling a business
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What You Need to Know: Three Tips for Selling Your Business

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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Selling your business can be a complex and timely experience. The best way to avoid regret and frustation throughout the process is to arm yourself with as much information about the process, roles and expectations.

We discovered a recent article in Costco's monthly magazine that outlines eight essential steps for business sellers.

Here are three key tips we highlighted in their article that will save you time and lessen the emotional strain of the selling process:

  • Be clear about what you want: Is profit a priority in this transaction or is it more important to keep the business in the family?
  • Have the right partners on your team: From accountant to laywer to business broker - the outcome and experience of selling your business will only be as good as your team of advisors.
  • Make sure potential buyers are qualified to make a purcahse: Pay attention to flags, like being unwilling to share information regarding their funding  or other necessary confidential information.

You can read the full article here: Closing the Deal 

Tags: evaluating buyers, selling a business
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Will More Small Business Owners Be Selling in 2012?

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Wednesday, 02 May 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments
According to Reuters, business brokers are fielding more calls from the owners of small companies interested in selling... Tags: business valuation, selling a business
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To Sell or Not to Sell: Nine Ways to Exit Your Business

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Wednesday, 04 April 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

We’ve outlined a four-step process to help you decide which exit option is best for you. This process will ensure that your exit options are consistent with your personal goals and take into account the realities of your company and the current marketplace. 

Tags: selling a business, ESOP, exit strategy
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7 Reasons to Sell Your Business Now

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Wednesday, 29 February 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

In today’s recommended reading, John Warillow, author of Built to Sell outlines seven reasons it makes sense to sell your business now.

Tags: business owners, selling a business
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Guest Post: Conditions Favorable: Consider Selling Your Business Now

by Tai Goodwin
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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Guest Post from that explains the three major factors that exist to provide you with a substantial value for your business.

Tags: business valuation, taxes, selling a business
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What Harvard Won't Teach You About Selling Your Business

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012 Category Sellers 0 Comments

In an enlightening post from John Warillow, author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell, the business expert highlights four unconventional truths for those considering selling their business.

Tags: advice, negotiation, selling a business
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Quick Tip: Tax Issues and Selling Your Business

by Tai Goodwin
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Friday, 16 December 2011 Category Sellers 0 Comments

Thinking about selling your business next year? Remember to consider the tax implications that could cause you to lose money or face penalties from the sale.

Tags: tax planning, selling a business, selling, taxes
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