An accountant can play an important role in helping you sell your business. They can organize your company’s financials and tax returns, ensure that your business demonstrates its full earning power, and construct sound forecasts that’ll attract potential buyers.
Some business owners choose to take on this work alone, in part to avoid the high costs of outsourcing the work. With some charging as much as $100-$300 per hour, the costs to retain a high-quality accountant can be significant. Still, many owners who have exited a business can attest that a great accountant is worth the cost. Here’s why:
- Great accountants work efficiently and ensure that their work is error-free.
- The time they spend navigating the financial aspects of your sale is time that you can use for other important tasks, like mitigating risks, interviewing business brokers, and planning your transition away from the business.
- Accountants can offer support throughout the sale, helping you to connect with a well-reputed valuation specialist, work through the advantages and risks of various financing terms for your buyer, and analyze the financial aspects of any offer a buyer presents.
- They can estimate—and possibly reduce—the tax consequences of your sale.
How can I find an accountant who will help me sell my business?
You may already have an accountant you like to work with. If that's the case, ask about their experiences helping owners sell a business. Many have this competency or can refer you to an accountant who does.
Here are some others business owners report they love using. Be sure to click their logos for a brief video on their services:
Which qualifications should I look for?
Many top-tier accountants are certified public accountants (CPAs). This designation is an industry-standard verification of an accountant’s knowledge and expertise in the field of public accounting. You should try to find an accountant in your area who has this designation and a sufficient level of experience in handling small businesses’ financial needs.
Before retaining an accountant’s services, consider speaking with accountants from several firms to learn about their experience, capabilities, style of communication, and fee structure. The following questions can help you with this task:
|How many customers have you helped through a small business exit?|
Can I talk to some of your customers who you helped through a small business exit?
|How can you help me prepare for my sale?|
What are the qualifications of the person in your office who would handle my request?
|What is the standard turnaround time for each step of the process?|
How frequently will you communicate with me?
|Do you have connections to valuation specialists, attorneys, or other experts who might help me with other parts of my sale?|
Will you be able to recommend a financial advisor who could help me manage the proceeds of my sale?
|Do you charge per hour or by project?|
Can you provide me with a written estimate of your costs?
How do I move forward?
Consider each accountant’s skills and qualifications before deciding on your preferred accounting professional. Pair what you learn with online reviews, verification of licensure, a review of the practice’s website, and web searches to ensure you have enough information about your accountant candidates to make an informed decision.
Some accountants will allow you to negotiate their rates, so once you’ve made your selection, consider asking for a reduction in fees, especially if they're out of alignment with the rates other qualified accountants are charging. Then, write an engagement letter that spells out the services you require; the duration of time you’ll need assistance; and the fees you’ll pay upfront, throughout the process, and at the close of your sale.
With the right accountant in place, you can shift your focus to finding other key members of your exit team. Be sure to secure an attorney, valuation specialist, and wealth manager who can support you pre- and post-sale. Would you like us to connect you with these professionals? Use the search menu at the bottom of the page to get started:
Need help with other parts of your sale? Log into your owner’s portal for step-by-step guides, articles, and advice you can use to connect with buyers, secure offers, and negotiate the terms of your sale with confidence.