I'm sure everyone has contemplated selling their tax or accounting practice at one point in time. People may think that selling your practice is similar to selling a home. This is a logical, but not practical comparison. How many "For Sale" signs have you seen in front of an accounting or tax practice? The answer is 0.
When trying to sell your practice, there is no sign to put in front of the office window. This threatens the businesses profitability moving forward. Current clients and employees of the office may get nervous. Trying to sell the practice through word of mouth can yield similar results. Breaching confidentiality is a serious problem in trying to sell your practice. Prospective buyers are not tied to any type of non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement when the owner tries to sell the practice on their own. I would argue that this is the most important reason why trying to sell on your own may be difficult. You obviously hire a 3rd party accounting broker to help you obtain these agreements or use an attorney. An attorney may be an expensive proposition based on where the practice is located. For example, if the practice is in a major metropolitan area, you may expect to speak to well over 100 people and obtain well over 100 plus confidentiality agreements. Most attorney's will charge by the hour so you can do the math on this one. Most brokers are only paid upon the successful sale of the practice so this work is included in their price. While obtaining the confidentiality agreements, this also allows the broker to qualify the prospect to ensure that the candidate is not only professionally capable of purchasing the practice but also financially and logistically capable. Location can be an important consideration when trying to sell the practice. Some buyers think that a practice can be moved anywhere and the clients will still come back. This may not be true in all cases. A broker is able to make the distinction beforehand and either quality or disqualify the prospective buyer. The seller's identity will not be disclosed.
Another consideration is time. There are a lot of moving parts in trying to sell an accounting practice. From marketing, to qualifying prospective buyers, to scheduling meetings with prospective buyers, to negotiating an offer, to financing the buyer, to finalizing the purchase agreement for closing. This is a lengthy process that requires a lot of time. You should consider where your time is more valuable. Is your time more valuable working for your business or on your business?
What about knowing the market price for your practice? Value and price of an accounting practice can differ greatly. You should be aware of what the value of your practice is so that you can obtain the most favorable price. Pricing the practice below market value can leave money on the table. Over price the practice and you will scare aware buyers. Knowing the appropriate price and going rates should be important to you when trying to sell the practice.