Preparing Your Business For Eventual Sale
Before you can sell a business for the best price there is essential preparation to be done. Prospective buyers prefer businesses where everything looks good and there are no ingrained or hidden problems. The sales process involves rigorous due diligence and once a buyer discovers something unpleasant they will either use that to negotiate down the price or walk away.
The answer is to identify problems in advance and sort them out. Here are 4 key areas to assess and 3 important questions to ask yourself in each area:
Poor first impressions create negative impressions that can take root.
- Are your premises modern, clean, uncluttered and well presented?
- Is the reception inviting? Is the signage professional?
- Is your company literature and web site up to date and looking smart?
A business that has reported steady growth in profits over several years is so much more appealing than one which struggles. Also, a business should never be seen ‘to be run by the seat of its pants’.
- Is the business consistently profitable?
- How dependent is the business on key clients – what % of business do the top 2-3 clients represent?
- Is there a viable team structure in place that will stand on its own feet when the CEO leaves?
Most entrepreneurs find legalities tedious but buyers need to know everything is ‘ship shape’.
- Are audited accounts available and are all tax affairs in order?
- Does everyone have a written contract of employment and job description and is there a disciplinary procedure, internet and anti-discrimination policy in place?
- Are there any minority shareholders? If so they should be bought out.
- Are there compelling reasons to leave – without such there may not be the energy to get the business into shape, negotiate a great deal and move on.
- What feelings does the idea of no longer being involved in the business bring up?
- What is required post sale to fund the life you want or the future business you want to be involved with?
It takes time to groom a business for eventual sale, it is unusual for all the above areas to be flawless but the grooming process requires time. New members of staff may need to be recruited and different structures put in place. There is a strong argument in fact to run every business as though it is to be put up for sale 3-5 years – such an outlook calls forth the necessary discipline to get everything tickety-boo sooner rather than later.
If you would like an assessment of what you need to focus on to get your business ready for sale contact me now. I will take you through the above questions and others and assist you build your own EXIT PLAN.