Be prepared, anticipate as much as possible. This is the first piece of advice given by Branka Berthoumieux, a specialist in business transfer at the Paris Île-de-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to business leaders who will soon have to cease their activity.
"First of all, you have to ask yourself: to whom do you want to pass on the company? To a family member, an employee, a company, a natural person? It is then necessary to consider all the obstacles, from a legal, tax and asset level. Ask yourself if your business is interesting, if it's profitable. Think about all the possibilities, such as the Dutreil pact (a mechanism to facilitate business transfers) or the creation of a holding company... »
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Jean-Luc Scemama, in charge of business valuation and transfer for the Order of Chartered Accountants, agrees: "You have to do it two years in advance. The head of the company must at all costs be accompanied in his efforts by his lawyer, his accountant and a specialized advisor. »
Online platforms... or "hidden market" to explore
Preparing is just as important for candidates to take over a business. "You have to get familiar with the process, which is complex, even to buy a small business," says Berthoumieux. There is a lot of formality, which requires the use of a lawyer or a specialized advisor. The amounts required for a takeover are larger than for setting up a company. »
To find the right fit, you must then consult the opportunity exchanges, these online platforms listing companies for sale. "You also have to be accompanied in the hidden market – all those companies whose managers don't officially declare themselves. The buyer can go and pat them on the shoulder. The Chamber of Commerce encourages this active research approach. »