A former newsagent got into some legal hot water about the performance of the business as represented through the sales process.
It was when the purchaser discovered historic business data had been deleted that they became suspicious. That kicked off a legal process that was expensive for both sides and resulted in a financial payout to the purchaser.
When you sell a business you sell it with a set of assets necessary to the running of the business. Data are such assets, especially data relating to sales performance. How can someone buying your business expect to achieve results close to yours if they do not have the historic data to guide decisions?
I mention this today as my newsagency software company has a process around any request from a customer for help with deleting data. We ask for the request to be in writing, signed by the owner. We do this based on legal advice. We do not want is to be drawn into a legal battle between vendor and purchaser. We have been in the past, several times, when vendors found business performance that did not match representations made in the sales process.
In the legal fights I have seen at close range (as an expert witness) it has been expensive for the business purchaser as well as the vendor. If data is deleted, the vendor can’t prove their position and this tends to not play well for them. I’ve reluctantly become involved as an expert witness relating to the management of the data.
My advice to anyone selling their business is don’t delete recent (within the last 7 years) historic business data on which you would, in the usual course of business, expect to rely for decision making.
If any asks me I say don’t delete business data. It is what it is. There is nothing to fear from the truth.
Now, on the matter of data. It is a core business asset, genuinely valuable. Collect it, cultivate it, treat it with care, analyse it. The most successful retail businesses I see do this. A retail business of any size can do it, and expect valuable results from it.