How to Secretly and Confidentially Sell Your Business


Bill Grunau

Best Business Broker Help Owners Sell Business Confidentially

Second only to the value of the business, a major concern for every business owner is “How do I sell my business without my employees and customers finding out it’s for sale?”  Confidentiality of the prospective sale of a business is critical because the possibility of the business being sold could cause employees to panic and look for other jobs as well as cause problems with both customers and vendors.

Confidentiality of the prospective sale of the business is vital and one of the most important aspects of our job in representing the seller-owner of a business.  So how do we maintain confidentiality of the sale of a business?

How Business Brokers Confidentially Sell a Business

  1. All advertisements are general in nature and do not specifically mention the location of the business or exact type of business.
    For example; Aceme Electrical Supply, an electrical distribution business located in Irvine CA would be advertised as Orange County Distribution business or an Orange County based Electrical Distribution Company.
  2. Ads for the business do not specifically describe the products or services if this may identify the business for sale.  We use broad descriptions for the products and services so buyers cannot connect what business this is.
  3. Confidentiality Agreements and Buyer Profiles are required from all prospective buyers before any confidential information is sent.  We use the CABB (California Association of Business Brokers) Confidentiality Agreement along with a Buyer Profile form that asks the prospective buyer to provide financial information such as net worth, credit score, cash available for investment, and their background.  After the prospective buyer has signed the NDA (Confidentiality Agreement) and provided a complete Buyer Profile indicating they are qualified the Confidential Business Review (business summary) is sent.
  4. Meetings at the business and with the owner are scheduled for after hours or off-site to preserve confidentiality of the sale.  The initial meeting with the buyer is with the broker and after the basic questions about the business have been answered and the buyer is interested in seeing the business, only then a meeting with the seller is scheduled.  We also use the initial buyer meeting as a screening process to eliminate “lookers” and buyers that are not a fit or are not serious so we do not waste the seller-owner’s time.
  5. After an offer has been accepted Due Diligence begins.  Since the offer is contingent on Due Diligence being completed and approved as well as other contingencies such as lease and financing it is still important to maintain confidentiality of the pending sale of the business.  To accomplish this Due Diligence is conducted largely by remote by sharing files with the buyer and their advisors via a shared Dropbox folder and onsite meetings are scheduled after hours. Work with Pacific Business Sales on properly preparing for Due Diligence for the sale of your Orange County manufacturing company.
  6. When do the employees, customers and vendors find out about the sale of the business?  This varies depending on the type of business and situation with the staff, suppliers and customers.  In general we advise the buyer and seller to inform the employees at or after the close of escrow, in some cases the employees may be advised of the sale just before the close of escrow.  This and the notification of suppliers is worked out during Due Diligence to create the smoothest transition.

Contact us for more information about confidentially selling your business for maximum value. We offer a no obligation consultation and a Free Market Value Report.

Bill Grunau

About the Author

Bill Grunau

Bill has over 20 years of experience as a Business Broker specializing in industries ranging from manufacturing to construction/contractors, technology and software, B2B services, distribution-3PL, and healthcare. His transaction experience includes successfully closed transactions as both stock sales and asset sales including transactions with licensing such as contractors, healthcare, and companies with government contracts in Orange County and other Southern California locations. Bill works closely with a team of financial advisors specializing in tax strategies to minimize taxes on the sale of a business and are available to advise clients on how to minimize the tax liability on the sale of their business. Bill is the author of “Own Your Future, Straight Talk about How to Buy a Business and Build Your Future” Bill has a BS in Electrical & Electronic Engineering studying at Cal Poly Pomona and West Coast University and also studied at Claremont Graduate school EMBA program.