Selling your business: a conversation with partners who know what to expect when exiting 

November 10, 2020

The decision to sell your business is difficult, and the steps to a successful sale can feel complex and overwhelming. That’s where advice from experienced professionals like David, Ryan, Adam and Michael can help.

BDO Canada partners talk you through questions to consider before selling your business

BDO Canada partners talk you through when to sell your business and first steps to take

David Elrick is a Partner in BDO’s Winnipeg office and has been advising on acquisitions and dispositions for 12+ years. 

Ryan Farkas is a BDO Partner and leads the Transaction Advisory Services practice in our Toronto office. 

Adam Thompson is a BDO Tax Partner in our Guelph office, with 10+ years providing tax services to buyers/sellers of businesses. 

Michael Morrow is a BDO Partner and National Leader - Corporate Finance. He has successfully closed over $2 billion in transactions. 

We sat down with them to discuss the particulars of selling a business and answer frequently asked questions from first-time sellers. Interestingly, many of the answers they gave had a similar theme: preparedness. 

Starting to think about and plan your exit is never a bad idea 

The earlier you start, the more prepared you’ll be the day you decide you’re ready to sell. Ryan summed it up nicely: 

“If owners aren’t prepared for a transaction, they can get overwhelmed by the amount of information a buyer wants. This creates a timeline drag that becomes deal fatigue, which leads to no-deals.” 

He said one of the first issues sellers have to wrap their heads   around is timelines.  

“People have an expectation that these things can be done in 60 days or 90 days, and they often take a lot longer than that, sometimes upwards of eight to ten months. It’s distracting for the owner and the employees, and it can be a lot, emotionally, to get through that process.” 

Navigating this process is ultimately what these four gentlemen do best.  

“Get to know the advisors in the space,” says Michael. “Ask the right questions. Understand the process. Those are the first steps.” 

Here are some more highlights from the discussion:  

“What does your transition plan look like? What do you want for your employees? How important is your legacy to you?” 

Ryan Farkas, on what to keep in mind when selling a business 

“Who the buyer is will impact the deal. Are you transitioning your business to a family member or a third party? If it’s a third party, are they private, public, or foreign? These will change the tax implications and quite possibly the sale price.” 

David Elrick, on what to consider before going into a sale 

“Business owners say, ‘we're ready to sell.’ But getting the best deal takes time. Selling immediately often leads to money left on the table.” 

Michael Morrow, on the ideal timeframe to selling a business 

“If you need to change things about your business in advance of sale, you need to prove to a potential buyer that you can do it.” 

Adam Thompson, on preparing to sell

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