It is often very helpful to have a legal consultation early in the process, to guide you in organizing your thoughts and your documents.
If you have a business organization set up already (corporation, partnership, LLP or LLC), you should make sure that the documents that you have filed with the state and the IRS are available and up-to-date.
You should also consider whether you will need to get the business evaluated, and also be sure that your bookkeeping and taxes are in order.
Decide what you are willing to sell. Different aspects of the business may be “split” off from the sale. For instance, if you own the property that the business operates from, you may decide to sell the business itself, but keep the physical location in your name and act as the landlord to the new owner. You may decide to sell client lists and the system you have developed for making it a success, but you may not want to sell the name or transfer the corporation to the new owner.
If you are in a business or profession that has licensure or regulation, you should be sure that you are aware of any limitations and regulations that must be followed to allow a sale and transfer to a new owner.
A realistic evaluation of assets, liabilities and future potential of the business will help you to determine a fair price to ask.
Once you have things in order, you can begin to advertise or network to gain a potential buyer.
By organizing yourself early, you have a better chance of being ready to move right away if an opportunity should present itself. A business lawyer can help you by guiding you through the process, as well as telling you the documentation that will be needed to take the transaction through sale, to closing and transfer.