A Guide to Protecting Confidentiality
We can’t overemphasize the importance of confidentiality when you’re selling a business. It is essential every step of the way, from the first conversation with your M&A advisor all the way to closing. If confidentiality is breached, it can lead to significant issues with your employees, vendors, and competitors that could interfere with the sale of your business. Let’s take a look at how you can help protect your business through a few simple steps.
When you are communicating about the sale of your business, don’t use a phone number or email address that your employees could access. Always use personal numbers and email addresses that only you have access to.
Along similar lines, be sure to hold any meetings that pertain to the sale of your business away from your workplace. Otherwise, it’s possible that your side of the conversation could be overheard by your staff or customers.
The Marketing Process
Your M&A advisor will have years of experience in successful techniques to market your business confidentially. He or she will carefully screen all interested buyers and also make sure that only very limited information about the business is shared.
However, you will want to ensure that the right parties do receive the information that your business is for sale. At CBS Global, our advertisements focus on general descriptions, revenues, and general information about the industry. This is referred to as a “blind ad.” This technique conveys enough information to get buyers interested, but it protects your confidential details.
We screen interested candidates on the phone to ensure that they are serious qualified buyers. Once we feel confident that the buyer could be a viable candidate, we then send an NDA agreement as well as a personal financial statement. Both forms must be properly filled out and signed or we cease communications.
When Can You Do If Rumors Start?
But what if confidentiality is somehow violated and rumors do begin to circulate that you are trying to sell? While this is rare, there are situations where this occurs. In this care, it’s essential to get ahead of the problem.
For example, if an employee were to overhear a conversation about a potential sale, be open and honest with that employee. Explain that no one’s job is in jeopardy and that you have valid reasons to sell. Ask them to keep this information confidential. In fact, in the case of older owners, it may be impossible to keep an upcoming retirement a secret, so you may have to trust your staff to protect this information.
Another approach to dealing with rumors is to simply deny that the business is for sale. You could also try a deflection approach where you make light of the situation using humor. With quick and decisive steps, you can resolve any potential confidentiality problems.
A Successful Sale
Most of keeping the sale of your business confidential comes down to just thinking things through ahead of time and being precautious. You’ll also want to select an M&A advisor who has proven experience keeping business deals confidential. Then you can rest assured that your best interests will be protected.
Michael J Schwantes is President & CEO of Creative Business Services/CBS-Global.
Call us to 920-432-1166. All your inquiries are strictly confidential.