How Do I Sell My Business Without Telling Anyone It’s for Sale?


How do you sell something, when the knowledge of its sale can hurt its asking price? Unlike selling a car, house, or another kind of fixed asset, a lot of a business’s value is tied up in its intangible assets. Your brand, your customer base, your vendor connections: these can be imperiled by the rumors a sell-off can cause. If you don’t have a buyer lined up, you could be tossing thousands away between the time of an announcement and finding a buyer. Let’s answer the question of “How do I sell my business without telling anyone it’s for sale?”

Sale by Proxy: Brokers and Intermediaries

The answer is to get someone between you and your potential buyers: to keep your business’s identity secret until you’ve hooked a buyer, but with enough reach and resources to find interested prospects. Business brokers (and M&A intermediaries for larger businesses) are the go-betweens for your company and the open market. It’s their job to straddle the line between revealing enough details to entice buyers while withholding any information that could potentially breach confidentiality. And the best in their field take confidentiality very, very seriously.

Getting Listed on the Hidden Market

Yes, there is a secret handshake: when searching the open market, the uninitiated can only see the top of the iceberg of the business market. The rest – the hidden market – is only available to business brokers and M&A intermediaries. Getting listed on this market allows you to confidentially list your business, as well as get access to pre-vetted buyers. For more on the hidden market from the buyer’s perspective, check out 3 Reasons You Need Buy-Side Representation.

Keep Your Own House in Order

Another source of leaks about your business can be from your employees. It can also be a source of lost value if employees decide that the uncertainty of business for sale without a buyer means it’s time to jump ship. Read When Should I Tell My Employees About an M&A Deal? and talk with your broker or intermediary about when and how to break the news.

Having a business broker or M&A intermediary in your corner helps two-fold: they help prevent tipping your business’s hand when you’re looking to sell and provide stronger negotiations to get you the most for your company. Contact George & Co today to get started: with 35 years as business brokers and M&A intermediaries, we’re the watchword when it comes to confidentiality.