Depending upon your business, the Buyers you intend to attract and the input you wish to retain in the business, there are several avenues you can go down when deciding how to sell your business.
Partial or Full Sale
When considering selling your business, you could sell the business in its entirety, meaning you would no longer have any input or association with the business, or you could sell part of the business and retain some ownership. In some instances this partial sale may be more welcoming to both Buyer and Seller, for example when involved in a client interaction based business such as a restaurant or retail. If you are the face of the company, or the main driving force that attracts customers, the new Buyer may want you to stay with the company to ensure stability and continuity, making the likelihood of continued success greater.
Sale of Assets
Depending upon the nature of your business, it may be more prudent to undergo a sale of assets. This consists of selling not necessarily the business, but the items owned within that business, such as stock, machinery or property. For example a retail business may wish to sell its assets, the property it owns, rather than the business as a whole. This means that there is no real continuity of business, the purchaser is just interested in the assets. This method of sale is relatively flexible as it allows you to sell only parts of your assets, whilst remaining as a functioning business. In addition, the valuation of assets is often an easier process in comparison to the valuation of a business as a whole.
Immediate or Phased Payment
In many cases a Buyer may wish to pay in full immediately upon completion of the purchase of a business. Alternatively you, the Seller, or the Buyer may prefer to make payments in instalments once the transaction is completed. This may be favourable for many different circumstances, but it does come with the risk of the Buyer potentially defaulting on its future payments. A type of phased purchase may be performance related, with the Buyer making payments based on continuing profits, meaning you may well stay with the business for a designated period of time. This can have advantages for both parties with regards to the Seller you may obtain more money than your initial valuation with regards to the Buyer it encourages a strong continuity after the sale. Although it must be noted a poor performance post sale may cause the value to fall.