Anyone who is self-employed is essentially running a business. But not every self-employed person has a business to sell. The difference comes down to whether you have created value that is independent of your own ongoing involvement. Obviously a business owned by a passive investor doesn’t depend upon that owner for its success. But this can be true for a solopreneur as well.
For example, if you are an inventor with a patent for a new manufacturing process or a software developer who has written a new mobile application, a buyer can pick that up and run with it because the patent or mobile app has intrinsic value. If you simply offer a service to the public, then there may be much less value to offer a buyer if you are no longer part of the business.
If you are in the latter group, there are ways to add value and potentially create a market for someone else to buy you out. One factor that a buyer will want to see is predictable future income.
If you are a service provider who works on an “as-needed” basis for customers, there’s no guarantee of future revenue, especially if the primary service provider is leaving. But if you have an established client base with longer-term service agreements, then it is easier to show the likelihood of ongoing revenue.
In addition, it would be wise for the seller to remain involved in a transition role after the sale to help introduce the new buyer to the business and its customers.
Another way to add value is to demonstrate a new, but untapped market segment, or an opportunity for a buyer to develop a new service line or product.
Take some time to figure out if you have a business to sell. And if you’re not sure, it may be a good time to make some plans to ensure that you are creating unique value that will be worth something to a prospective buyer.