1. Build a solid management team. A business with sales of $5 million or more needs a full complement of officers and directors. Such a team might include a COO, a CFO, a sales manager and, depending on the of type business, an IT director. It is also beneficial to create a Board of Directors with at least two outside members. This professionalization of management can remove the stigma of “the one man band.” Not only will this build a stronger company, it will increase the value to a possible acquirer. Smaller firms should also build a strong management team, and creating an outside advisory group is also a good idea.
2. Loyal employees. Happy and loyal employees make for a strong company. Top management should have non-compete and/or confidentiality agreements. Solid benefits plans for all employees should be in place. A company’s greatest asset is its employees and perhaps its biggest way to increase value.
3. Growth. Some smaller companies are kept small to maximize the owner’s benefits – the proverbial “cash cows.” However, if building value is the goal, then developing new products or services, building market share, expanding markets or opening new ones, is critical. This generally requires a financial investment, but building a strong growth rate also builds value.
4. Understanding your market. The value of a company may be contingent on its industry, its place in the industry and the direction of the industry itself. How big is the industry, is it headed up or down, who is the competition and how big is the company’s market share? Is it time to change direction or diversify?
5. Size counts. Companies with less than $5 million in sales and an EBITDA of less than $1 million can be perceived as small. Therefore, they may depend on continuing outside financing and lack the critical mass for both buying and selling power. These companies can be perceived as too small for acquisition or are penalized when it comes to value. However, over the past few years, corporate buyers and private equity firms have seen the advantages of purchasing smaller firms. Obviously, companies with $10 million or more in sales and an EBITDA of $1 million or more are considered to be solid and able to stand on their own.
6. Changing direction. Small companies can be very adept at changing course and implementing change. They have to be able to change and move quickly to take advantage of new markets, to fill voids in existing markets and even to add or change products or services.
7. Documentation. Business plans, financial plans and personnel plans should all be in writing and kept current. Terms of employment agreements should be spelled out and in writing. Business planning and company objectives, etc., should also be in writing and reviewed periodically. Contracts should be reviewed and maintained on a current basis.
8. Diversification. A major problem with many small companies is that their business is concentrated on one or two major customers or clients. Ideally, no customer or client should represent more than 10 percent of sales. Expanding to new markets, introducing new products, and finding new customers must be considered without deviating too far from the company’s core business.
9. Name and brand identity. Nothing beats the name Walt Disney, or Kleenex® or the soft drink called Coca-Cola® – they are household names. Small firms may not have the brand or name recognition of these companies, but they can work at it. This recognition is especially powerful in the consumer product area. But franchising has expanded this name or brand recognition to many different types of businesses.
10. Taking advantage of proprietary and other assets. Patents, brand names, copyrights, alliances, and joint ventures are all examples of not only proprietary assets, but, in many cases, valuable ones. Even equipment can be used in several different ways. Large landscape companies in cold climates put snow plows on their trucks, utilize their existing workforce and become a snow plowing company for their regular landscaping customers — office complexes, apartment and condo developments, etc.
11. “Lean and Mean.” Many companies lease their real estate needs, outsource their payroll, have their manufacturing done offshore, or have UPS handle all of their logistical needs. Since all non-core requirements are done by someone else, the company can focus its efforts on what they do best.
12. Do it now! The owners of small firms, even large ones, have an attitude that says, “I don’t have time now, I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’m too busy now putting out fires.” So the real challenges of building the business and value get sidetracked or put off indefinitely. Creating value is critical to the long-term (and short-term) success of the business.
Keep in mind that the best time to consider selling a business is when business is good, the business is running profitably, and many of the above “value-adders” are in place. By contacting your local professional intermediary you can explore which of the above will add the most value to your firm, so it will be ready to sell when you are.
The post 12 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Company appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.
Selling a business is a complex process that experienced business brokers know how to navigate. Here are common mistakes made by business sellers that can, in many cases, torpedo a sale.
1. Not knowing what the business should sell for
One of the most costly errors a business owner can make is not knowing the approximate value of his or her business prior to entering the selling process. Although the marketplace ultimately determines the final price, an owner needs to determine a reasonable asking price for his or her business before placing the business on the market. Before making the decision to sell, owners should work with someone qualified to place a price on their company.
An experienced business broker has both the technical ability and the market experience to produce the most realistic pricing opinion. The business broker will also be the only alternative for supporting his or her opinion by selling the business.
Fair Market Value
Asking Price is what the seller wants
Selling Price is what the seller gets
Fair Market Value is the highest price the buyer is willing to pay and the lowest price the seller is willing to accept.
2. Not preparing the business for sale
Determining the starting price point is only the first step. Prior to exposing the business to the marketplace, the seller must prepare. Realtors always spruce up a house before setting out a for sale sign, right? A business is certainly not a house, but the same attention to appearance prior to sale is necessary. Financial and legal affairs should be current. Anything a potential purchaser might want to see should be up-to-date, accurate and available for review.
Momentum is very important in business transactions and can make or break a deal. The constant need to develop information for a serious prospect will destroy momentum and with it, possibly, the deal. Demonstrating preparedness places the business in a favorable light and prospective buyers will feel comfortable that everything is in order. Being unprepared can delay a closing, create costly expenditures to play catch-up, and cause prospective purchasers to lose confidence in the deal itself. Too much time almost always works against the deal happening.
3. Not seeing their business through the eyes of a buyer
This can be very difficult for any seller. It is only natural to see one’s own business in a most favorable light and overlook the blemishes or problems inherent in any business. Sellers have to approach their business realistically, knowing that a potential buyer will be doing the same. By recognizing the deficiencies of their business, sellers are in a much better position to deal with the concerns of the buyer. In fact, the best way to handle any potential problem areas is to bring them up in the very beginning.
4. Not really knowing the buyer
The better you know the buyer, the smoother the transaction. By knowing the buyers, their motives, their interests and their backgrounds, the better equipped a seller is to make informed decisions about whether they are the right people to operate the business. When final negotiations begin, knowing the buyers can help resolve some of the issues that will arise. Are their interests the same as yours? If you, as the seller, are financing the deal, do you feel confident that they can make the payments? The more you know about why a buyer wants to buy your business, the better position you are in to know when to be firm in the negotiations and when to be flexible.
5. Trying to sell the company to a buyer who doesn’t want to buy
There are usually many more potential buyers than there are businesses for sale. The crucial question is — how serious is the prospective buyer? A buyer may indicate a great deal of interest but when it gets down to the wire, he or she may back out of the deal. Some buyers want to buy only on their terms and conditions; some have too many decision-makers to please; and others only want to buy the “perfect” business. Wasting time on those who aren’t serious about purchasing a business takes away valuable time from those buyers who really want to buy.
6. Being your own worst enemy
Many business owners feel that no one knows their business like they do. They think they can do a deal by themselves. They don’t need, or want, any help. They think they are lawyers, accountants, business brokers and outside advisors all rolled up into one person. Then when the going gets tough, they become impatient and inflexible. They then blame others, usually the buyer, when the deal blows up. As the old saying goes: “The attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The same could be said for the business owner who thinks he can sell his or her own business. Not using outside advisors, such as a professional business broker, is a serious and costly mistake.
7. Not understanding the structure of the deal
Regardless of the size of the deal, this could be the scenario: an offer is presented, the seller takes one look at the price, immediately says “no” and refuses to look any further. The price, within reason, is immaterial. The real crux of the deal is how it is structured. Consider the negotiating axiom: “You can name the price if I can name the terms.” The terms and conditions are important. A seller may be ecstatic about price only to find that the devil is in the details.
8. Not being able to walk away from the deal
Too many sellers get so involved in trying to put a deal together that they don’t see the big picture. They don’t realize when the deal isn’t a good one. In other words, they cannot see when it’s time to walk away from one deal and go on to the next one. Many sellers don’t want to let the deal get away. Since they have invested a lot of time and effort, and probably expenses, it’s often difficult to just end it. However, in some cases that’s exactly what must be done. If the deal isn’t right, and can’t be fixed, there is no other choice. It’s much better not to do the deal than to do a bad one!
9. Waiting too long to sell
Too many owners wait until the last minute to decide to sell their business. They wait until business is down, or they are completely burned-out, or their business partnership has soured completely. The time to sell is before the emergency happens. The time to sell is when business is good. The time to sell is prior to when exasperation hits. The old adage is that a business owner should think about and plan the eventual sale of the business the day after it is started or purchased.
10. Changing your mind
The sale is progressing nicely, the buyer is happy and the seller well, the seller is contemplating life without the business. He or she realizes that when the business is gone, they will have nothing to do. The business has been a major part of their life for many years. Just before the closing, the seller decides that he or she can’t live without the business and the deal starts to unravel. Sometimes, seller’s remorse arises because a business acquaintance says the price was too low, or there isn’t enough cash involved, or some other uninformed reason. If it was a good deal in the beginning, don’t let well-meaning outsiders influence the sale. And, if there is even a speck of doubt about selling the business, don’t begin the process. Wait until there is not one shred of doubt.
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Finalizing a deal is usually a complex process with lots of room for error, misunderstandings, miscalculations, and good old-fashioned wild cards. That’s why it is critical to carefully think through the deal process well in advance. In this article, we’ll explore the top ten steps you can take to avoid wrecking a good deal.
- Confidentiality – Topping our “how not to wreck a deal list” is confidentiality. Everyone involved in the deal MUST take steps to avoid a breach. Experienced business brokers are experts at maintaining confidentiality.
- Flexibility – Inflexibility can absolutely destroy a deal. You shouldn’t go into a deal expecting to have all of your terms met.
- Be Open to Negotiations – Sellers are used to being their own bosses, but when it comes to successfully selling a business, no factor is quite as important as a willingness to negotiate.
- Advance Preparation – Sellers should have several years of well-prepared records and legal and accounting documents on hand. You can be 100% certain that any serious buyer will want to see your records and take a look at your financials.
- A Reasonable Selling Price – An inflated price will decrease the number of buyers that take a serious look at a business. Additionally, an unreasonable price may make a seller look uninformed. Business brokers and M&A advisors are experts at handling valuations. One of the single best ways to boost your chances of finalizing a sale is to establish a fair and justifiable price for your business.
- Maintain Operations – Far too often sellers lose track of the day-to-day operations once their business goes on the market It is absolutely vital that sellers continue operating their business as though it may never sell. It can take months or years to sell a business. The last thing any seller wants is for their business to lose value when they are in the process of trying to sell.
- Keep up the Momentum – A lack of momentum can kill a deal. Working with a business broker or M&A advisor is an easy way to make sure you maintain momentum throughout the process.
- Consider Your Buyer’s Needs – Serious buyers will need a variety of information from sellers in order to obtain financing. You can expect buyers to need appraisals of assets, information on environmental regulations, and more. Sellers should have this kind of key information ready and waiting.
- Encourage Competition – In general, it is a good idea to create a competitive situation – one in which prospective buyers know that there is more than one interested party. Brokerage industry professionals understand the delicacies of presenting this information.
- Seller Participation – Finally, sellers must stay involved in the entire process, and that includes being willing to help buyers during the transition. Showing a willingness to help during the transition period will help to foster goodwill and trust.
There are many reasons why a deal could potentially fall apart. You may not be able to control every single variable, but by following the ten key tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to increasing your chances of successfully completing a deal.
The post The Top Ten Ways to Avoid Wrecking a Deal appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.