Tips for successfully selling a business

James McMenamin, Partner in PwC’s Deals Advisory practice, explains how sellers can increase their chances of efficiently, profitably and smoothly selling their business.

The global economy continues to face challenges, but there are a large number of investors in the market with capital ready to deploy into good businesses, with a four-to-seven-year time horizon.

This presents a good opportunity for companies looking to bring transactions to the market.

“Business leaders will have deal-making firmly on their agendas for the foreseeable future as they optimise their portfolios to drive growth”

While valuations may be impacted by recent banking volatility, high levels of inflation and rising interest rates, there are opportunities in many sectors. Additionally, companies that are taking action to address climate change will continue to be of strong interest to investors.

Common mistakes that business leaders make in the M&A process

The biggest obstacle to success in the M&A market is a lack of preparation.

Business leaders will have deal-making firmly on their agendas for the foreseeable future as they optimise their portfolios to drive growth.

Potential sellers must therefore remain prepared for a potential sale. In that context, it’s essential to run your business with a focus on profitability, future growth and investment, succession planning and maximising value through efficient tax structures.

Through this approach and by maintaining a documented track record of success of building your pipeline and converting that pipeline to profitable revenue, you’ll be able to easily demonstrate the value of your business during due diligence.


Many business leaders may have a narrow view of potential buyers, failing to consider that buyers could come from different industries and geographies.

The process of selling a business can also be highly personal and emotional, especially for those who have spent years building it from the ground up. It’s important to be prepared for the thorough due diligence process that buyers will typically conduct to minimise their risk exposure.

Remember, the buyer has a lot at stake in the deal, so it’s important to be accurate, transparent and to provide all necessary information to underpin the value proposition of the acquisition opportunity.

Increasing success 

It’s important to keep in mind that potential buyers of your business will be looking for long-term growth and returns, so it’s crucial to demonstrate your company’s ability to achieve sustained success.

In addition to financial performance, a positive company culture is also highly valued by many buyers.

Once a buyer has expressed interest, it can be beneficial to meet with them early on to assess the cultural fit between the two parties. If there is good alignment, the chances of a successful transaction increase significantly. This can be a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller, as well as the employees.

Maintaining competitive tension in the M&A process is key

If you are looking to sell, regardless of market conditions, generating and maintaining competitive tension in the M&A process is key.

When multiple parties are interested in purchasing a business and competing to do so, they are likely to be more efficient in their diligence and more accommodating in their negotiations.

On the other hand, a bilateral process with only one interested party may take longer as buyers may feel less pressure to make decisions and may conduct a more thorough review of their target business.

It is fundamentally important that you have an advisor who understands the universe of potential buyers and has the reach to market your business both locally and globally.

James McMenamin
James McMenamin is a PwC Ireland Advisory Partner in the firm's Corporate Finance practice. He brings nearly 15 years of experience advising on merger and acquisition transactions across a wide range of sectors including pharma, banking, construction, insurance, agribusiness, retail and energy. James works closely with plcs, multinationals, SMEs and the public sector at critical times in their business lifecycle as they sell their business or seek to identify and execute transformational acquisitions. James is part of the PwC Global Corporate Finance Network and a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.