How Long Does It Really Take to Sell a Business?

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Selling a business is a significant milestone for any entrepreneur. The process, filled with financial, emotional, and strategic decisions, can be intricate and time-consuming. The time it takes to close a business sale significantly depends on various factors, including the use of professional services like a business broker or M&A advisory. Let’s dive into the timeline of selling a business and the roles these experts play in streamlining the process.

The Role of a Business Broker and M&A Firm

Business brokers and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) firms are instrumental in facilitating the sale of businesses. A business broker typically assists in the buying and selling of smaller, privately held companies, while M&A firms handle larger, often public or high-value private transactions. Their expertise is crucial in assessing the business, preparing it for sale, marketing, negotiating terms, and navigating legal and financial landscapes. This professional assistance is especially beneficial in a state like Oregon, where diverse industries from tech startups to traditional forestry businesses populate the market.

Preparing to Sell: The Initial Steps

The journey to sell a business begins long before the business is actually listed for sale. Preparation includes valuing the business, which is a critical first step. A business broker or an M&A advisory firm can provide a realistic business valuation based on market trends and financial performance. This valuation not only sets expectations but also helps in strategizing the sales approach to attract the right buyers.

Next, business owners must ensure that their financial records, legal documents, and operational frameworks are in order. This due diligence process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the business’s complexity and the accuracy of existing records.

Marketing the Business

With the business ready for sale, the next phase involves marketing. This stage is where the choice of a broker or M&A firm in Oregon becomes advantageous. These professionals have extensive networks and marketing strategies that target potential buyers effectively. The marketing period typically ranges from six to nine months but can extend depending on the business type, size, and market conditions.

Negotiating and Closing the Deal

Once potential buyers are lined up, the negotiation begins. This phase includes offers and counteroffers and can be quick or drawn out based on how many potential buyers are in the pipeline and their respective interest levels. Having a skilled negotiator from a business broker or an M&A firm can significantly influence the duration and outcome of this phase.

The final step is closing, which involves finalizing the sale agreement, transferring ownership, and handling the associated legal and financial changes. This process usually takes about 60 to 90 days, encompassing due diligence checks by the buyer, securing financing, and other closing conditions.

Factors Affecting the Timeline

Several factors can affect how long it takes to sell a business in Oregon or elsewhere:

  • Business Readiness: Businesses with organized records, strong financial performance, and clear legal standings tend to sell faster.
  • Market Conditions: Economic factors like market demand and industry trends can impact how quickly a business sells. For example, tech businesses in Oregon might sell quicker due to the region’s growing tech industry.
  • Type of Business: Some sectors may attract more interest than others. A trendy restaurant in downtown Portland might sell faster than a specialized manufacturing plant in a rural area.
  • Pricing: Overpricing a business can prolong the sale process, as can pricing it too low without a clear strategy.


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