I agree with Joe on many of these points but I would also like to add several more of my own suggestions from working with business owner/sellers and brokers and agents in the BizBen ProSell Program. I too believe the first 30 to 45 days are the most critical for selling a small business.
Here are my recommendations for owners and brokers who partake in the BizBen ProSell Program:
1. Price your business for sale correctly from the start - no games, have a reason why you priced the business the way you did - justify your price based on assets being sold with the business, annual cash flow, ROI analysis, history of earnings, competition, the ability for sustained and hopefully future growth. As an owner don't try and price your business yourself - get professional advice - advice without bias one way or the other. Remember 70% of small businesses in California never sell and the biggest factor is too high of price and the second is a deal structure that doesn't make sense! Get a professional business valuation completed before going to market.
2. Always accept back up offers and keep buyers moving forward - always. Have buyers who have given an offer on a time table to get things accomplished - like due diligence, getting approval for financing, meeting with the owner, lease renewal negotiations etc. If the current buyer balks, negotiates in bad faith or generally shows a lack of continued interest - move to the next buyer on the list pronto! As a professional courtesy make sure you let all potential buyers know where they "stand" in waiting to put an offer on your business.
3. Don't play games - let all buyers know where they stand when reaching out about making an offer on your business for sale. Stay firm on your price (remember you can always optimize the deal structure) - as long as you have priced your business correctly from the start you should have no problem getting a willing and able business buyer who sees your pricing logic and buys your business!