Introduction

“You can take better care of your secret than another can.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Author

Don’t let loose lips sink your chances of a successful sale.

If word gets out prematurely that you intend to – or already have – put your company on the market, you risk losing control of the narrative. Why does that matter? Employees who learn about your plans through indirect channels may lose your trust. Customers may jump ship. Competitors may begin poaching your employees and client base. Any of these outcomes can significantly weaken your leverage at precisely the time you need to put your best foot forward.

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to prevent the release of sensitive information – whether it’s word of the sale itself or a spreadsheet containing a list of your major customers.

You’ve no doubt heard of non-disclosure agreements. These can be a useful tool in maintaining confidentiality, and I discuss them in detail in this chapter, including providing specific passages you can use to make sure your interests are protected. I also cover a dozen strategies you can implement both before and during the sales process to help keep the sale of your business mum.

More than a century ago, Sigmund Freud famously declared, “No mortal can keep a secret.” Let’s prove him wrong.

Warning: The content in the second half of this chapter is detailed and excessively dry, unless you love poring over legal prose. If you’re particularly concerned about the detailed language contained in a non-disclosure agreement, read the latter half of this chapter. Otherwise, feel free to skip it.