The non-answer – answer.. “It depends”. Okay, on what?
The time required to sell a business depends upon the industry, location, price, size and yes which firm you select to represent you.
Business Brokerage Press annual survey of business brokers in 1992 found the average time to sell a business was 4.8 months. In 2013 survey results were 12 months. Note that this only accounts for businesses that sold. The increase in time is likely attributable to perceived difficulty in buyer financing. Note “perceived”.
ENLIGN’s 2013 is heavily concentrated around 6 months, with outliers from 1-14 months.
The cost. Virtually every business broker and business brokerage firm charges a commission at the time of closing based upon the purchase price. The industry likes to call this charge a “Success Fee” – presumably because it sounds better than a “Commission”. However, that’s what it is – a fee paid to the broker for managing a transaction through closing.
The percent ENLIGN charges is 10% on transactions up to one million dollars. That represents a $100,000 commission for the sale of a million dollar business. Sound outrageous? It’s not really. For two reasons. The first is the doctor analogy. When you go to see a doctor you aren’t paying for his time, you are paying for his expertise. You want to feel better. In a business sale scenario you want your business to sell. Selling a business is extremely difficult with many many moving parts (which is why we love it so much). An experienced broker will insure you receive the maximum market value, minimize the time required to close, reduce your stress and most importantly actually SELL your business. Earlier this year we negotiated one term that increased the sale price by over $400,000 – almost completely covering the commission paid with that single term.
ENLIGN also charges a retainer (usually $2500) that is subtracted from the commission at closing. See the related FAQ on retainers.