An appraisal will help with this step by examining the stats and market facts rather than how you feel about the business personally.
However, your competitors are not always enemies, especially in this situation.
If you let these pre existing feelings cloud your visions you will risk losing the deal you want and deserve.
This is because buyers from the same industry may just be using the purchase of the company as an excuse to get information about how the business works.
The main thing to take away from this point is that not all competitors are going to be serious buyers, this is something to look out for.
A way to distinguish between the serious and the unserious would be to require a mutual confidentiality agreement, this will enable you to be sure the interested party is actually interested and not just trying to extract information.
The financial elements of the deal is of course one of if not the most important part of the deal however there are other things to consider when negotiating.
For example, if you have employees you could negotiate that part of the deal these employees would be offered a contract of employment within the new company, following the sale.
If you do not plan to retire after selling the company then negotiating a non compete agreement would be a valuable step in the process.
For example, working with the larger well known companies is usually pretty safe.
There are usually too many individuals involved in these companies for them to play dirty.
There is too much risk in not following the rules, people will be fired.
In addition to this, the larger companies have a much higher reputational risk, they will not want to risk behaving badly and damaging their reputation.
In addition to this, if the sale does not go through it is highly likely that these large businesses will just discard any information exchanged during the negotiation process, this will protect you.
On the other hand, smaller businesses do not share these same reputational risks and if they do behave badly there is much less risk for them.
When dealing with a smaller business you will have to trust the morality of the person you are working with.
If you do feel any doubt then it is likely they are not the correct people to sell your business to as you run the risk of your ideas being copied.
It is important that you are aware of your business's value and be willing to step away from the sale if you do not feel the offer is up to scratch.
Thi is because when you approach buyers / competitors instead of letting them approach you first they are very aware you are looking to sell.
With this knowledge it is likely they will try to knock you down as much as possible.
During negotiation it is likely the competitor will gain access to information about the trade and the business.
By putting a non disclosure agreement in place this lowers the chance that any trade secrets will be used to grow competitors businesses.
This is extremely important when negotiating with a competitor due to the highly confidential and sensitive information available.
Although potential buyers have the right to explore the business before purchasing it and signing the agreement it is vital that as the seller you are in the driving seat, leading the meetings and ensuring that anything that happens, happens under the correct circumstances.