I chat with various business owners every day and hear of a variety of businesses in nearly every imaginable business sector. The businesses that give the best first impression are those that appear well organized, are relatively clean, and where the business owner has books and records readily available. This gives me an indication that the business is most likely well run and that the owner has given some thought and preparation to the idea of selling his/her business.
What is the first thing people do when they decide to sell their car? Many take the car and have it professionally detailed. Those that don’t have it professionally detailed at least either take it to the car wash for a wash and wax, or spend the time and energy to wash and wax it themselves. Will anyone pay top dollar for a car with layers of dirt and bird droppings crusted into the paint? Not likely.
What do people do when they are going to sell their house? Many times they will paint the house, do a bit of landscaping and clean things up so the house shows well. Will anyone pay top dollar for a house that is dirty and cluttered with foot high weeds in the lawn? Not likely.
When it comes to business, the psychology is pretty much the same. I have seen manufacturing shops so clean you could eat off the floor. And, I have seen shops so filthy I didn’t want to sit, lean against, or touch anything. Interestingly enough it seems to be the latter where the business owners insist their business should command top dollar.
A buyer is not going to pay top dollar for a business that appears dirty, cluttered, disorganized and has either no books and records or records that make little to no sense.
GABB member Loren Schmerler recommends that before putting a business on the market, the owner should fix all interior and exterior problems. Fix parking lot holes, replace dead shrubbery, clean the windows, fix the roof and/or paint the exterior to enhance curb appeal. Fix stained ceilings, replace light bulbs, repair and repaint walls, get workers to clean their desks.
“When the buyer tours your business, you want them to visualize becoming the owner and being proud to do so,” advises Schmerler.
The bottom line is that as a business owner, investing a few thousand dollars to have a professional work with you in preparing your business for sale will in most cases give you tens of thousands of dollars or more in return.
This article is taken from the BizBen blog. Peter Siegel is the Founder & President Of BizBen.com & BizBenNetwork.com (National version). He consults daily with intermediaries, buyers, owner/sellers & advisors daily about buying and selling businesses.Read More
The first step towards successfully selling a business is finding a qualified business broker to work with. Sellers should also ask themselves important questions about their motivations for selling. Freelance writer Troy Lambert outlines some crucial questions in an article published recently by Unbound Northwest and the Good Men Project.
1. Are you ready?
Such a simple and powerful question: “Are you ready?” For example, are your financial reports ready to show? If you’re like most businesses, your accounts are set up to provide the best tax advantage, but that usually doesn’t show all the money you make or have the potential to make. To get top dollar for your business, you’re going to have to “recast” your books, usually with the help of your accountant.
2. What’s the business worth?
3. How healthy is my industry?
Prospective sellers should be brutally honest when they answer this question: “How’s the health of my industry?” You’d better believe that your broker, bankers and prospective buyers will be asking this question as part of their due diligence. If your industry is in a transition period, for example, then it might be better to wait until a better time to sell.
4. How long will it take?
Selling a business can take a long time. If you need to sell quickly, you are likely to get less money and less favorable terms. Successfully selling your business may even mean that you have to stay on and work with the new owner during a transition period. The process can take a year or more, so plan for that.
5. Who is my buyer?
You don’t want to waste a lot of time with potential buyers who are simply not a good fit. Professional business brokers understand this and will prequalify buyers, ensuring they have the finances to buy your business and the right skills or certifications to run the business. Finding the right buyer for your business helps to ensure that a deal will be finalized. Brokers also understand the necessity of confidentiality in marketing your business.
6. How will I get paid?
Even if you get your asking price, you may not walk away with a wad of cash. Before you put your business on the market, decide how you want to be paid and how flexible you can be in terms of payment. Are you willing to finance part of the deal? Will you accept sales-based payouts? Balloon payments over time? Payment in the form of stocks or a stake in the business?”
For most sellers, selling a business will stand as the largest financial decision of their lives. With this realization comes more than a little pressure.
Having good advice is critical to a successful sale. A seasoned and experienced business broker understands what it takes to buy and sell a business. Working with a business broker is an easy and efficient way to begin the process of selling your business. Brokers know what it takes to successfully sell a business and can help you answer these questions and many more.
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The number of small business transitions continues to be strong for the first quarter of 2019, according to a leading market analysis. In fact, despite a small decline, small business transitions remain at historically high levels.
Looking at the Statistics
According to a recent BizBuySell article entitled, “Number of Small Businesses Changing Hands Dips Slightly, But Market Remains Ripe for Buyers and Sellers,” now is still very much the time for both buying and selling a business. It is true that the number of businesses sold in the first three months of 2019 dropped by 6.5% when compared to 2018. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that the number of completed transactions remains very strong. Likewise, inventory is increasing, with a 6.1% increase in listings in Q1 of 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018.
While the market is indeed strong, the BizBuySell article did note that some experts feel that there are signs that the market could become more challenging moving forward. In part, this is due to the prospect that interest rates and financing could become increasingly challenging and more expensive. These factors indicate that now is a smart time to both buy and sell a business.
Likewise, the financials of sold businesses in Q1 remains strong. In fact, the median revenue of sold businesses jumped 6.5% when compared to Q1 2018. Now, the median revenue stands at $540,000. However, cash flow continues to hover around the $100,000 for five years in a row.
What are the Top Regions?
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta ranked among the top ten markets in the top markets by closed small business transition, according sales reported on BizBuySell.com. The top markets were Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. The Atlanta area ranked seventh, tied with the Washington, D.C. area, The top markets by median sale price are Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Denver-Aurora and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington.
A Consistently Strong Market
Overall, the experts at BizBuySell believe that the market remains very strong and active. They believe that the wave of retiring baby boomers looking to exit their businesses, historically low interest rates and the rise of the next generation of entrepreneurs are helping to fuel a great deal of activity.
According to Matt Coletta, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, M&A Business Advisors, “We are seeing more quality businesses coming on the market with good, clean books than I have seen in my 25+ years in the business.”
If you are considering buying or selling a business, then now is an excellent time to jump in. Working with a business broker is a great way to ensure that you find the right business for you at the right price.
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Selling your business can takes as much planning and careful consideration as starting it does. The Atlanta Small Business Network recently interviewed former GABB president Michael Ramatowski, Managing Partner at RamBizGroup Business Solutions, in the ASBN studios.
Considering the most common reason for selling a business is due to retirement, Michael says it’s important that a business owner get the most out of selling their business. He said that’s why members of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers make sure that business owners are getting the most out of their business and not leaving any equity on the table.
Michael also shared with ASBN exactly how much work goes into selling a business. Business brokers generally follow certain steps to determine the value of a business. He says for GABB specifically they will begin their process with a no-cost meeting with the business owner before they begin to work towards determining the price at which the business would sell for. From there they will be able to determine how they are going to fund it and whether or not the business is ready to be taken to market.
The IBBA and M&A Source Market Pulse Survey Report for the fourth quarter of 2018 has a range of interesting insights. The survey’s purpose is to provide an “accurate understanding of market conditions for businesses being sold in Main Street (values $0-$2MM) and the Lower Middle Market (values $2MM-$50MM). This national survey was designed as a tool for business owners and their advisors and has the support of both the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Projects and the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.
One of the most striking facts to leap out of the report is the fact that a full one-third of advisors fully expect the strong market to end this year. Overall, advisors are not optimistic that the current climate will continue through 2020. In fact, advisors are encouraging sellers to consider placing their businesses on the market now, while the market is still strong. This is according to Craig Everett, PhD and Assistant Professor of Finance and Director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project.
One fact from the report that could be overlooked is that only a mere 8% of advisors expect the current climate to last for 48 months or more. Additionally, only 9% believe that the current climate will last between 24 to 48 months. Perhaps most striking of all is the fact that 60% of advisors feel that the current climate will end within the next two years.
Business owners who are considering selling should be advised that almost two-thirds of advisors now feel that there will be a significant shift in the next two years. Considering that it can take a year or more to sell a business, business owners would be wise to consider this important fact.
The report sites Neal Isaacs, Owner of VR Business Brokers of the Triangle who states, “Deals are taking longer in due diligence as buyers work hard to validate their investment and make sure that what they’re buying is worth the premium price today’s sellers are commanding.”
So, is now the time to sell? Many experts feel that it is possible to lose a sizable amount of value if one waits too long to sell. Even just a few months can make a huge difference in terms of perceived value and the ultimate sales price. Working with a proven business broker is a key way to ensure that you are selling at the right time and secure the best possible price.
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