Should You Sell or Close Your Business?

Deciding whether to sell or close down a struggling business is difficult. Understand the pros and cons of each option to make the best choice for your situation.
dori yona
Dori Yona
Published: July 21, 2023

If you’ve reached the point where you find your business is no longer viable, you could not obtain the additional funding you needed from investors, you’re running out of cash, or you’re starting a new venture, you may be wondering if it is better to sell or close your business.

The decision to close or sell your business is a difficult one. You’ve put a lot of sweat equity into building your company and if you have partners or members, they also have a lot at stake. Once you’ve decided that it’s time to get out, you have options. And selling your business is a possibility to consider as is simply closing the business down.

Business Worth

The first question is whether the business has any saleable value. A common misconception is that if a business is not profitable that it has no value. However, there is most likely value in your company, such as:

  • Client lists

  • Brand presence

  • Future revenue

  • Software

  • Intellectual property (trademarks and copyrights)

  • Permits and licenses

  • Talent (employees with specialized skills)

 If you aren’t sure about valuation, check or for comparison.

And do not forget that even if your business is not profitable, it is competition to other companies and for that reason alone it has value.

Pros and Cons of Selling vs. Closing

When making the decision whether to continue your business or sell it, think about the following benefits and drawbacks of each path.

Selling Your Business


  • You get some value/liquidity without having to sell off individual pieces

  • You get the satisfaction of knowing your business is worthwhile and will go on

  • You walk away after a single all-encompassing transaction

  • You may be able to negotiate an ongoing role for yourself (with ongoing revenue)

  • It provides an immediate end to your responsibilities

  • You provide a safety net for your employees


  • You will have to wait out a lock up period.

  • Negotiations may be extensive and require a lot of work on your end, not to mention ongoing stress

  • A non-compete may be required, preventing you from starting or working for a competing or similar business

  • You may be forced to agree to a payment plan which involves ongoing risk

  • You could spend months negotiating and have the sale fall through

  • You may need agreement from your partners, members, VCs, investors, or board of directors to accept a sale


Closing Your Business


  • You don’t have to hire an M&A broker

  • The process is faster than a sale

  • You don’t need to hire a business appraiser which can be a difficult expense if your company is already struggling

  • You close the business on your terms and needn’t worry about what will happen to it in the future

  • That chapter in your life is completely over and final

  • There’s no non-compete and you’re free to start any other business you want

  • You may be able to keep some business assets and use them in a new venture


  • Closing a business requires paperwork and submissions to state and federal agencies

  • You may have personal financial liability for the debts of the company if there are personal guarantees

  • You are responsible for working with creditors, vendors, and customers to close things down

  • Your employees must find other work

  • You may sever ties with clients, employees, and business contacts 

How to Make the Decision

Take some time to envision each path and how it will personally affect you. Talk it over with friends, family, business associates, and investors. offers information about closing your business and offers details about selling and closing.

If you have partners, members, or directors involved, it’s crucial to work through the options together and evaluate how viable a sale actually is (there may be value in your company, but is there a market for it?). You should also discuss the personal financial repercussions if there are personal guarantees at stake on company debt. A business advisor can speak to your board or partners and help you evaluate the options.

When you’ve made the decision to move on from your business, the choice of whether to sell or close down can be complex and emotional. Weighing the pros and cons and getting professional advice can help you make the best decision possible. If you decide to close your business, streamlines the process. Learn more.


Why should you shut down a business?

You may consider closing your business if it is not profitable, you want to pursue other opportunities, or you find that it is too time-consuming or stressful to continue.

What is the difference between selling and closing a business?

If you sell a business you transfer ownership of it to another person or company in exchange for a payment. If you close a business you shut it down, discontinuing it completely.

Is selling a business stressful?

Selling a business yourself can be extremely stressful because there are many legal requirements to fulfill and many steps that must be taken. You must find a buyer and ensure that the sale is completed correctly to fulfill all state requirements. 

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