A business owner boxes up inventory and equipment he plans to sell

How to Sell Your Business’s Remaining Inventory, Equipment, and Items of Value

An important step of closing your business is selling off the assets it needed to conduct its operations. Before proceeding, you’ll need to inventory and appraise both your tangible assets (including your real estate, vehicles, equipment, inventory, and raw materials) and intangible assets (including your patents, trademarks, copyrights, brand, social media accounts, and customer lists).

In our article, How to Appraise Your Business’s Assets, we walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before you sell your business's inventory, equipment, and items of value.

Now, with your expert appraisals in hand, you can explore your options for selling your assets and obtaining cash you can use to repay creditors and share with other owners of your business.

You can't sell any assets you’ve collateralized to secure a business loan until you’ve repaid the loan in full. Speak with your business loan specialist to learn how you should proceed.

How should I prepare my assets for sale?

First, look at the condition of every asset you’re planning to sell. Then, ask yourself whether you could attain a higher price by making repairs to it, painting it, or deep cleaning it. If not—or if the difference in market price isn't worth the effort—you can sell it in an “as-is” condition.

Before paying for any modifications or repairs, be sure to request quotes and determine whether the cost you’re agreeing to pay is worth the investment.

Next, locate the warranty information, repair records, and instruction booklets that accompany any of the equipment or vehicles that you intend to sell. Often, instruction booklets can be found on the manufacturer’s website or equipment dealer sites.

 

How can I find buyers for my business’s assets?

There are quite a few options for selling your business’s assets. These include:

 

Closeout sales

You could sell your business’s inventory and some of your furniture, fixtures, and equipment by holding a deeply discounted going-out-of-business sale. You can advertise this sale on customer receipts, store signage, email blasts to your customer base, and posts to social media.

 

Public auctions

Consider selling your remaining assets through a public auction that’s held at the site of your business. This option will allow you to sell off many of your large, high-value assets without having to navigate shipping costs or logistics.

 

Virtual auctions

Think about selling your inventory, materials, and small pieces of equipment through an internet auction site, like eBay.

Liquidation companies

Contact a professional liquidator who may be interested in buying your excess inventory or raw materials at a discount to sell through other retail channels.

 

Online retail sites

Look into becoming an Amazon seller so you can sell your remaining inventory, equipment, and supplies directly to consumers. You could also consider using sites like Craigslist and Nextdoor to sell your inventory or supplies and possibly some of your larger assets, including vehicles or equipment, to local buyers.

 

Consignment stores

If your inventory includes personal goods, consider selling them through a local consignment shop. Some stores pay sellers upfront, but others pay out a percentage of the sales price once the item is purchased.

 

Direct sales

You may consider selling items that remain directly to your competitors. Competing business owners may be interested in acquiring your equipment, vehicles, raw materials, and inventory at a deep discount, and they may be interested in buying some of your intangible assets, including your customer lists and your web address or business phone number, which they can use to redirect your customers to their own site or call center.

Interested in exploring this option? Visit our Sell Your Business library to learn more.

Consider donating any items that remain to charity. Why? Because if your business is a corporation, it may be able to claim a tax deduction for the donation. If your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you may be able to claim a deduction on your personal tax return. Speak with a certified public accountant (CPA) to learn more.

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What should I do with the proceeds I earn?

Start by calculating how much you’ve earned from every item you've liquidated. Then, subtract the costs you incurred from each sale. These costs may include:

Commissions

Auctioneer and
sales fees

Advertising

Shipping fees

Moving and
storage costs

 

The difference between your total earnings from the sales and the costs of the sales is your net sales proceeds. This pool of proceeds should be applied to any debts your business owes, including outstanding loans and invoices, and to your final federal, state, and local tax payments. What remains can be divided among owners or shareholders, depending on the organization’s structure.

For more information on these steps, read the following articles:

 

How will the sale of these items affect my taxes?

You’ll need to work through IRS Form 8594 to report the sales of your assets. Your accountant can advise you on other steps you’ll need to take and explain the tax implications of your sales.

 

What’s next?

Some of the tasks you’ll need to work through include filing your final tax forms, closing your accounts, and archiving copies of your business’s key documents for your records. Log into your owner’s portal for articles and advice that can help you with these important steps.

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