Preparing to Sell Your Business
August 29, 2019 | BY admin
The benefit of owning publicly-traded stock is that its owner can liquidate it without much effort. While shares of a publicly-traded company are liquid and marketable, the sale of a privately-held business can be lengthy and exhaustive. Also, the stock market largely determines that value of shares in a public company, but the value of a private company is not readily determinable. Accordingly, once a business owner has decided to sell his/her business, the business owner must adequately prepare to sell the business and determine whether the company is saleable.
Define the Seller’s Goals and Objectives
The seller should consider the reason for selling the business and the ideal exit strategy. The goals and objectives can help the seller understand which group of buyers to target, the price and timing of the deal, and how to structure the terms of any eventual sale (i.e., tax consequences and the owner’s future involvement in the company). The acquirer can be a trusted employee or another partner, a financial buyer, or a strategic buyer.
An existing partner, employee, or employee pool will generally maintain the company’s character and will involve a less rigorous due diligence process but will result in a lower purchase price for the business. A financial buyer purchases the company to generate cash flow or economies of scale and often use debt to acquire the company. Financial buyers often use debt financing for 50% to 90% of the purchase price, which may involve banks or SBA underwriters in the due diligence process. Strategic buyers are competitors or companies that want to purchase the company to take advantage of financial or operational synergies, introduce complementary goods or services, or expand their product mix or geographic territory.
Establish a Value for the Company
The value of a company will often not determine the price that it will eventually sell for, but determining a realistic and reasonable valuation range can help set expectations about the business value. A valuation can also allow the seller to realistically assess the marketability of the business and establish the minimum price to sell the company. A business can be valued using a multiple of earnings or cash flow, or a discounted cash flow model, but the value must reflect the company’s overall financial health, industry trends, and projected growth. A company can also be valued based on its intellectual property, such as patents, workforce, and licenses. Although the pool of potential buyers will determine the price, the value will increase based on the quality of the business presentation and the nature of the buyers. For example, a strategic buyer will often pay more for a company than its fair market value.
Enhance the Value of the Business
The business owner should consult with professionals and advisory firms to enhance the value of the business before marketing it for sale. The business’s performance should be perfected, and the company’s strategic plan should be reviewed and improved. In addition, the company should make necessary changes to the management team, streamline processes and cut costs, reduce customer concentration, and focus on the business’s core competencies. However, the changes should not require a massive overhaul that is risky and may take too long to implement.
The business owner should also prepare the financials and optimize the financial strategy in a way that increases the value and prepares the company for due diligence. The can seller can boost sales with increased marketing and promotions, liquidate bloated or obsolete inventory, and aggressively collect any aged receivables.
Studies show that 90% of businesses listed for sale don’t sell. The reason for this is that sellers are often unrealistic about the value of the business, are not willing to plan the transition of the business, or do not have adequate accounting records.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin