Top Ten Mistakes Made By Sellers

1. Not Knowing What the Practice Should Sell For:

Although the marketplace ultimately determines the final price, an owner needs to know the approximate price of his or her business prior to placing the business on the market. Before making the decision to sell, owners should work with someone qualified and experienced to place a price on their practice.

2. Not Preparing the Practice for Sale:

Prior to exposing a business to the marketplace, preparation is necessary. Anything that a potential purchaser might want to see should be up-to-date, accurate and available for review. Likewise, financial and legal affairs should be current. Being prepared helps to maintain the momentum of the deal, places the business in a favorable light, and brings confidence in the business.

3. Not Being Able to See the Practice Through the Eyes of the Buyer:

Although it is tempting to look at one's own business in only the most favorable light, it is very important to recognize the deficiencies of the business, and address them, in order to alleviate any buyer concerns. In fact, it is suggested that problem areas should be brought up in the very beginning of the selling process, along with possible solutions.

4. Not Really Knowing the Buyer:

The better you know the buyer, the smoother the transaction. By knowing the buyers, their motives, their interests, and their backgrounds, the seller is much better equipped to make informed decisions about whether they are the right people to operate the business.

5. Trying to Sell the Practice to a Buyer Who Doesn't Want to Buy or Can’t Afford To:

There are usually many more potential buyers than there are businesses for sale. The question is--how serious are they and are they financially qualified? Wasting time on those who aren't serious about purchasing a practice takes away valuable time from those buyers who really want to buy and have the ability to complete a sale.

6. Being Your Own Worst Enemy:

Many firm owners feel that no one knows their practice like they do. They think they can do a deal themselves, without any help. As the old saying goes: "The attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client." The same could be said for the business owner who thinks he can sell his or her own business. Not using outside advisors, such as a professional practice broker, is a serious mistake.

7. Not Understanding the Structure of the Deal:

The real crux of the deal is how it is structured. Consider the negotiating axiom "You can name the price if I can name the terms." The terms and conditions are important. A seller may be ecstatic about price only to find that the devil is in the details.

8. Not Being Able to Walk Away From the Deal:

Too many sellers get so involved in putting the deal together that they don't see the big picture. Since they have invested a lot of time and effort, and probably expenses, it's often difficult for them to see if the deal isn't a good one. If the deal isn't right, and can't be fixed, there is no other choice than to walk away. It's much better not to do a deal than to do a bad one.

9. Waiting Too Long to Sell:

Too many accountants wait until it’s too late to decide to sell their practices. They wait until business is down, or they are completely burned out, or their partnership has soured completely. Health issues or the death of the owner can diminish value or destroy the ability to sell. The time to sell is BEFORE emergencies happen-when the business is still in good shape.

10. Changing Your Mind:

If there is even a speck of doubt about selling the practice, don't begin the process. Seller's remorse can arise from many things- realizing that you will now have nothing to do every day, an acquaintance saying the price is too low, etc. If it is a good deal from the beginning, don't let outsiders or self-doubt influence the sale.

If you are considering selling your practice now that tax season is over please contact Todd Steinberg for a no cost, no obligation assessment of your firm’s worth along with your options for selling. We are offering a discount off of our standard performance fee for listings received prior to June 1, 2015.


Todd Steinberg, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Todd Steinberg
Todd Steinberg

Todd Steinberg offers more than 20 years of experience emphasizing sales, marketing and business development in the industry of marketing accounting services. The scope of Todd’s experience has spanned virtually all aspects of the accounting practice marketing industry. A respected leader in the industry, his experience includes developing new marketing strategies, NCI program sales, integrating financial planning and payroll services into accounting practices, providing sales and marketing support to NCI’s 4,500+ clients, hiring and training of marketing personnel for accounting firms nationwide and speaking at regional and national conferences as an authority on marketing accounting services.

His career includes leadership roles such as serving as the National Seminar Director at NCI’s Practice Development Seminar, Director of NCI’s Practice Development Coaching program and Director of Monitoring and Support. He is also responsible for leading NCI’s accounting practice sales division and has been personally involved in the sale of over 125 firms nationwide. Todd is Series 7, 66, Life, Accident & Health Licensed. In his spare time he enjoys working out and spending time with his wife Jessica and three young children Sydney, Ben & Brooklyn.