SELLING A BUSINESS

Selling Your Business for Parts

John Warrillow, author of Built to Sell, answers questions from readers about building a sellable business.
Like selling a wrecked car for its parts, some elements of your business might have a market.
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Dear John:

I've decided to shut down my business. It's just too time consuming, and I'm not earning a good enough living to compensate for the time it is taking to run. It's not sellable because it is too dependent on me personally. Do you have any advice on salvaging some value from my business? It seems a shame to just walk away.

—Cathy, Oakville, Ontario

There is no shame is closing up a business. In trying to start your own venture, you took a bold risk and will have certainly learned a lot from the experience. You can now take those lessons with you into a new, more profitable business.

But before you simply close the doors, consider whether or not there are parts of your business that might be worth something to someone else. Like selling a wrecked car for its parts, some elements of your business might have a market. For example:

Your "Google juice":

Do you get a lot of traffic to your website from "natural searches"? It can take years and a lot of content for Google's search engine to recognize and prioritize a website. Therefore, if you naturally rank well on key search terms, a competitor may be interested in buying your site and historical archives for the improved performance it will get on Google's natural search listings.

Your unsolicited leads:

Perhaps you have found it difficult to make a go of your business, but there are probably other companies that could serve your customers more profitably given their infrastructure and cost base. Consider striking an agreement whereby you refer the inbound unsolicited leads you get to a company you trust in return for a small percentage of the revenue generated.

Your domain name:

I knew a woman with a retail store who could not make a decent living through her shop so decided to close the doors. She kept her catchy URL and ended up selling the domain through a broker. Her URL—unlike her shop—had real value, and she ended up getting a nice little payday by selling it.

Before you close the doors and walk away, consider what could be worth something in someone else's hands.

John Warrillow is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which was released by Portfolio/Penguin on April 28, 2011.

IMAGE: Flickr/ davesandford
Last updated: Jun 7, 2011

JOHN WARRILLOW | Columnist | Sellability

John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You and the founder of The Sellability Score, a cloud-based software company that helps business owners improve the value of their company.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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