Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
June 1, 2014

Question: I have had my business up for sale for a few months and have gotten inquiries but no solid offers yet. I thought this process would be much shorter, and I’m not sure how to proceed now. Some prospective buyers have had the desire but no money, and I’m not willing to finance without a large down payment. The last couple I talked to didn’t seem interested in the history of the store—how we started and grew over the years—but they appear to be the best prospects so far, because they have enough money to purchase without relying on the business for a salary right away. They said they would call, but I haven’t heard from them in a few weeks. Should I contact them or just wait to hear?

Answer: It can be very tough to sell your store on your own because you may be too attached to the business to be objective. Make sure you ask for help if you need it. Did you seek professional assistance from your accountant or banker in setting the sale price? Have you considered hiring a commercial broker to screen prospective buyers and weed out the “lookie-loos”? If you proceed on your own, I suggest talking to a consultant from the Small Business Administration or SCORE offices in your area. My research shows it may take up to a year to sell a business and far longer or not at all if it’s not priced right. As for the couple who showed interest a few weeks back, I think they would have contacted you again by now if they were interested. Unless you specifically agreed to call them within a certain time period, I would wait for them to contact you.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to