The Top 3 Unexpected Events CEO’s May Encounter During the Selling Process

When it comes time to sell a business, not everything goes as planned.  You may be one of the lucky ones and find that selling your business is a streamlined process with only a few unexpected occurrences.  But most CEO’s looking to sell a business find they can expect the unexpected.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the top surprises CEO’s experience during the sale process.

Unexpected Occurrence #1 – Surprisingly Low Bids

CEO’s looking to sell their businesses need to be ready for almost anything.  One of the larger surprises that CEO’s face are surprisingly low bids.  Don’t let low bids shock you.

Unexpected Occurrence #2 – A Huge Time Commitment

CEO’s have to make sure that everything from an offering memorandum to management presentation and suggestions to potential acquirers are ready to go.  The offering memorandum is considered the cornerstone of the selling process and is typically at least 30 pages in length.

Most business intermediaries expect the potential acquirers to submit their initial price based on the information contained in the memorandum.  Management presentations are also time consuming, but it is common to have these presentations ready before the final bids are submitted.  Ideally it is best for the CEO to show the benefits involved in combining the acquirer and the seller as well as the future upside for selling the company.

Unexpected Occurrence #3 –The Need for Agreement from Other Stakeholders

You, as the CEO, are able to negotiate the transaction, but the sale isn’t authorized until certain shareholders have agreed and done so in writing.  Until the Board of Directors, shareholders and financial institutions who may hold liens on key assets, have agreed to the deal, the deal simply isn’t finalized.  Often this legal necessity turns out to be an issue that gets in the way of a successful deal.

Sellers can take their “eye off the ball” during the time-consuming process of selling a company, however, this can be a serious mistake.  CEO’s must understand that potential acquirers will be examining monthly sales reports with great interest.  If potential acquirers notice downward trends they may want to negotiate a lower price.  No matter how time consuming the sales process may be, CEO’s have to maintain or even accelerate sales.

Ultimately, there can be a wide array of surprises awaiting a CEO who is looking to sell a business.  Avoiding these kinds of issues is often, but not always, a matter of excellent preparation.  However, it is vital that they keep in mind that even with the very best preparation and diligence, there can still be surprises when selling a business.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

A recently published article from Business.com entitled “Why Every Business Owner Needs an Exit Strategy” outlines the importance of having an exit strategy for business owners, no matter what point they are at in running their business. The author uses an analogy involving building construction: if multiple exit options are required for each floor of a multi-story commercial building in preparation for disaster, why not plan for the same in your business?

As can be expected with most elements of a business, exit strategies will vary depending on the business and will be tailored to each specific business’s circumstances. The basics, however, include the following:

  1. Business Goals
  2. Timeframe
  3. Intentions for the Business
  4. What’s Next for the Business Owner

While some may argue against incorporating an exit strategy into a business’ initial business plan, some benefits for exit planning early on include enhanced business value and the ability to use the strategy as a blueprint for success or a flexible template for sale preparation. Whether or not an owner decides to pursue exit planning now or further down the road, these are all factors to consider.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Divestopedia entitled “Who is the Right Buyer for Your Business?” illustrates the thinking that should go into determining which type of buyer will fit best in the sale of a business. A single business transaction can present several different types of potential buyers, each having their own goals and motivations for buying a business. Understanding these types of buyers can help an owner make the right choice for their own personal goals as well as for the good of the business.

Some buyer types include:

  1. Defensive
  2. Synergistic
  3. International Entity
  4. Financial or Private Equity

While sometimes surprises do happen during the sale process, it is invaluable for a seller to have some knowledge and understanding of the types of buyers they will encounter during the sale process.

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A recent article posted on the Axial Forum entitled “Succession Planning — A Critical Missing Element in Many Family-Owned Businesses” outlines shocking statistics from a recent survey that shows the succession plans of U.S. family-owned businesses: only 52% plan to keep their businesses in the family! This is down a whopping 22% from only two years ago and raises some questions regarding the goals and plans owners have for their businesses after their death or retirement.

These statistics can help to reveal some important findings about the owners of family-owned businesses in this country: they often have little understanding of the fair market value of their businesses. Unfortunately, many small businesses overestimate the true value of their investment, which can come as a shock when it comes time to sell. According to the survey, less than 25% of respondents had a clear, actionable transition plan in place, while almost a third had no plan in place at all. These things alone can debilitate any seller, especially in the necessity of a quick sale.

Understanding what an effective transition plan and process entail is a great start for any business owner, especially one that falls into the category of owners without proper transition plans. These things can be better understood with the help of an M&A advisor or business consultant, who will help iron out some of the wrinkles and prepare a business for its future.

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A recent article posted on The Business Journals entitled “How to Pass a Family Business from an Overbearing Father to the Next Generation” illustrates a hypothetical example of a difficult business transition from a ruthless old-school owner to a seemingly less passionate and less aggressive family member. It explains how transitioning from an overbearing leader is often difficult because not only are potential family successors unmotivated to take over, existing employees are also alienated due to harsh and improper treatment.

The author’s solution for this is forgiveness: when it comes to business, animosity can kill motivation and productivity and revenge is never the right answer. Business survival relies on proper practice and great leadership, among many other factors, so forgoing personal grudges for a seamless transition can prove to be vital to future and ongoing success.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Are You Sure Your Deal is Completed?

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When it comes to your deal being completed, having a signed Letter of Intent is great.  While everything may seem as though it is moving along just fine, it is vital to remember that the deal isn’t done until many boxes have been checked.

The due diligence process should never be overlooked.  It is during due diligence that a buyer truly decides whether or not to move forward with a given deal.  Depending on what is discovered, a buyer may want to renegotiate the price or even withdraw from the deal altogether.

In short, it is key that both sides in the transaction understand the importance of the due diligence process.  Stanley Foster Reed in his book, The Art of M&A, wrote, “The basic function of due diligence is to assess the benefits and liabilities of a proposed acquisition by inquiring into all relevant aspects of the past, present, and predictable future of the business to be purchased.”

Before the due diligence process begins, there are several steps buyers must take.  First of all, buyers need to assemble experts to help them.  These experts include everyone from the more obvious experts such as appraisers, accountants and lawyers to often less obvious picks including environmental experts, marketing personnel and more.  All too often, buyers fail to add an operational person, one familiar with the type of business they are considering buying.

Due diligence involves both the buyer and the seller.  Listed below is an easy to use checklist of some of the main items that both buyers and sellers should consider during the due diligence process.

Industry Structure

Understanding industry structure is vital to the success of a deal.  Take the time to determine the percentage of sales by product lines.  Review pricing policies and consider discount structure and product warranties.  Additionally, when possible, it is prudent to check against industry guidelines.

Balance Sheet

Accountants’ receivables should be checked closely.  In particular, you’ll want to look for issues such as bad debt.  Discover who’s paying and who isn’t.  Also be sure to analyze inventory.

Marketing

There is no replacement for knowing your key customers, so you’ll want to get a list as soon as possible.

Operations

Just as there is no replacement for knowing who a business’s key customers are, the same can be stated for understanding the current financial situation of a business.  You’ll want to review the current financial statements and compare it to the budget.  Checking incoming sales and evaluating the prospects for future sales is a must.

Human Resources

The human resources aspect of due diligence should never be overlooked.  You’ll want to review key management staff and their responsibilities.

Other Considerations

Other issues that should be taken into consideration range from environmental and manufacturing issues (such as determining how old machinery and equipment are) to issues relating to trademarks, patents and copyrights.  For example, are these tangible assets transferable?

Ultimately, buying a business involves a range of key considerations including the following:

  • What is for sale
  • Barriers to entry
  • Your company’s competitive advantage
  • Assets that can be sold
  • Potential growth for the business
  • Whether or not a business is owner dependent

Proper due diligence takes effort and time, but in the end it is time and effort well-spent.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

A recent article published by Divestopedia entitled “The Only Valuation Method that Really Matters” explains the best method to use to value a business: the Business Buyer Valuation Method. While there are certainly other valuation methods, the author suggests that this one is the best and will bring you close to what a buyer is actually willing to pay.

Steps like determining who the most likely buyer is for your business and how this buyer may structure the transaction, among others, will help a seller build a valuation that will both make sense and be fair for a potential buyer.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent Axial Forum article entitled “Take Customer Due Diligence to the Next Level – Here’s How” identifies revenue growth as the majority driver of new value growth after a business transaction. The article outlines the vitality of due diligence within both the overall market and the customer base. One huge factor in this process involves customer due diligence, or the exploration of customer relationships with the business that is being purchased. This typically includes customer feedback, typically through interviews or surveys, and helps to educate potential new owners on things like customer satisfaction and loyalty, risks and opportunities, market growth outlook, market trends, and more.

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A recently published Business.com article entitled “Your Five Year Plan to Build a Business to Sell” explains the steps involved in building a business for the purpose of a sale. Although many owners think that this is just a fantasy, there are actually some early steps that can be taken to help push a business toward a potential sale in the future. While the process can take several years, it truly can pay off in the end for both the seller and buyer.

One of the first and often overlooked steps in this process is to build a business in a market that is not only lucrative now, but will be in the future as well. This is much easier said than done in some instances of course, because many markets and industries are difficult to predict three to five years out, so this step should be taken with care.

The next, and arguably most important, aspect of creating an attractive business is profitability: a business that is profitable and one in which the profit is growing is the most attractive to potential buyers. Bidders want to see a business that is both making money and growing.

Other important aspects of an attractive business include keeping the business “clean” and building a corporate structure that doesn’t depend on the involvement of the owner. Clean businesses are ones that are transparent with well documented processes and transactions, as well as a problem-free workforce. An independent corporate structure is one that is able to function without the current owner as the core of the business. A business that cannot function when the owner is absent is not an attractive option for buyers.

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A recent Forbes.com entitled “How To Make Millions Off Your Exit: 7 Entrepreneurs Worth Over $2 Billion Explain” outlines important insights for making an exit, taken directly from entrepreneurs that have started and sold businesses of their own. The list below outlines the entrepreneurs’ advice:

  1. Sell to Make Your Business Grow
  2. Prepare in Advance
  3. Create an Expert Team
  4. Sell the Potential of Your Business
  5. Focus on Providing Value
  6. Seek Advice
  7. Actively Look for Buyers

While some of these aspects of a successful business sale may seem obvious, many are often overlooked. Another important lesson to take from this: learn from those that have experience making deals!

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent BizBuySell article entitled “Top 4 Small Business Funding Methods of 2017” outlines some of the best options for funding the purchase of a small business when personal savings, loans from family and friends, or credit cards don’t quite cut it. They include:

  1. SBA Small Business Loans
  2. 401(k) Business Financing
  3. Home Equity Lines of Credit
  4. Unsecured Loans

Each of the above methods have their own pros and cons, and deciding which method is best when looking into funding options is ultimately up to the borrower. While there still several options outside this list, these are some of the most common and are widely available to applicants in a wide variety of situations.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

A recently published Divestopedia article entitled “The Top 10 EBITDA Adjustments to Make Before Selling a Business” explains common practices in adjusting EBITDA before selling a business for the purpose of helping the seller get the best value from the sale. The process of normalizing a company’s financials is often done by investment bankers before a sale to help show potential buyers the best possible version of a company’s financials with the ultimate goal of getting a higher selling price. The following adjustments are some of the best:

  1. Non-Arms-Length Revenue or Expenses
  2. Revenue or Expenses Generated by Redundant Assets
  3. Owner Salaries and Bonuses
  4. Rent of Facilities at Prices Above or Below Fair Market Value
  5. Start-Up Costs
  6. Lawsuits, Arbitrations, Insurance Claim Recoveries and One-Time Disputes
  7. One-Time Professional Fees
  8. Repairs and Maintenance
  9. Inventories
  10. Other Income and Expenses

Adjustments in these factors can be crucial to getting the most out of a business sale. Follow the link to read more about how each of them can affect the sale price of a business.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article published on Axial Forum entitled “Dying is Not an Exit Strategy” speaks on the importance of having an exit strategy and succession plan. There can be nothing worse than the unexpected illness or death of a business owner without a proper plan for the business in place. These unfortunate circumstances will not only burden the family of the owner, but will likely result in the liquidation of a business at a fraction of its true value.

Three important factors to consider when planning a succession strategy include:

  1. Who will run the business?
  2. Who will own the business?
  3. How will proceeds from a sale be distributed?

Whether or not you’re in a position to think about selling your business in the near future, it is still important to think about how you’d like to transition in the event of unexpected circumstances.

Click here to read the full article.

The recent article published in Divestopedia entitled “Who Will Buy My Company?” helps business owners understand the avenues for finding a buyer for their business. With options in selling internally, externally, or a combination of both, there are multiple paths and opportunities to finding the right buyer. Each of these paths can result in a unique outcome, so it is important for a seller to choose the one that best fits their needs.

The article identifies two important and useful steps in understanding who will want to purchase a business: identify best buyers and take an offensive approach. Having at least a general idea of who would even consider buying your business is a great first step, which can be refined with better and more pertinent information over time. Taking an offensive approach involves actively becoming a bigger presence in different communities related to the business or industry, giving a seller better insight into what potential buyers may be interested in.

Click here to read the full article.

 

The recent article published in Divestopedia entitled “If You’re Selling Your Company, Don’t Get Sandbagged” explains what a “sandbag clause” is and how sellers can avoid them during the transaction process. As explained by the author, sandbagging occurs when a purchaser goes through with closing a deal when they are aware of misrepresentations in a seller’s contract. This is often used as basis for an indemnity claim by the buyer after the sale.

Sellers can get sandbagged in a few different ways, with some of the more common related to the fact that the seller doesn’t know every exact detail about the daily operations of a business. Often times, a buyer can uncover some of the finer details that may have been missed in the contract, which is why it is of utmost importance for sellers to be diligent in the process. As the article suggests, having an experienced M&A lawyer may help to mitigate these risks.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

The recently published Axial article entitled “How Customer Due Diligence Led to a 30% Reduction in Offer Price” explains how important the due diligence process is for a prospective buyer during a business transaction. The author goes in-depth into a case study that demonstrates how proper due diligence can save a bad deal from coming to fruition, while giving examples from the case to show the effect that due diligence can have on a sale.

In the author’s case, further research into a business that seemed to have a great track record and excellent position in the market turned out some interesting information:

  1. Competitors were making progress
  2. Customer service could be improved
  3. Innovation was lacking
  4. Customer loyalty was much lower than average

These things could have easily been overlooked without a proper vetting and due diligence process, but since the business was researched thoroughly, the buyer was able to bring down their offer price by a significant amount.

Click here to read the full article.

 

The recent Forbes article “When Negotiating to Buy a Business – Attitude Is Everything” illustrates how negotiations can and should be treated with care, especially in regard to the attitude of the buyer. It explains how deals can take a quick turn due to things like struggles over non-negotiable points of interest or simply a bad attitude on the part of either the buyer or seller.

Money, of course, always comes into play at some point during negotiations, which is a point of contention and heavy negotiation. Understandably, money talks can draw out a lot of emotion: sellers want to make sure they are getting what they deserve and buyers want to get a deal that will be profitable in the long-term. It is so important for both parties to have respect and to build trust in these negotiations, as a deal can fall through easily if not treated with care.

Click here to read the full article.

 

The recently published Axial article entitled “Selling? Look for a Buyer Who’s Walked a Mile in Your Shoes” explains the benefits of due diligence and patience when selling a business. The article outlines the sale process of the footwear brand Flojos, the pride and joy of the Lins, a couple that built the company into a $50 million+ business over their tenure as owners and operators.

After finding an M&A advisor with experience in the consumer products field, the Lins focused on finding a buyer that would understand and succeed in the business, as well as continue the legacy that they had created. They wanted a buyer that represented their business well, and after receiving a few offers, they were able to select a buyer that was able to do this.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article in The Business Journals “3 Questions to Consider When Looking at Mergers and Acquisitions” outlines what a prospective seller should consider regarding mergers and acquisitions as a means to exit their business. The current state of the M&A market makes this option very lucrative, with record transaction numbers and valuations. But no matter the state of the market, knowing whether or not this is the best option is important. When considering a merger or acquisition, you should ask yourself:

  1. Does M&A align with your company’s strategic plan and vision?
  2. Have you conducted adequate due diligence?
  3. Do you have a post-deal integration plan?

While time and patience are very important during this process, it is also very important to understand everything about the process, why you’re undergoing it, and what it means for your business. A merger or acquisition could mean very good things for your company if you are well prepared and know what questions to ask.

Click here to read the full article.

 

The recent article in Divestopedia “What Role Does Your Brand Play in a Successful M&A?” explains how a business’ brand often takes a backseat to most other business activities during the M&A process. The author explains how crucial the brand really is within the transaction process, as it represents how the new business is both perceived and received by the public and shareholders of the acquiring entity, as well as employees and customers.

Branding in consideration of employees is very important in the transaction process, as the cultures of the now combined companies may differ drastically. This makes consideration in terms of culture and structure so important for both entities to ensure the process runs smoothly and the new entity is able to move forward seamlessly.

In consideration of the customers of both entities, the transaction process should flow and occur in a way that will least affect customers. This includes seamless integration of customer service processes as well as pricing and product availability, among others.

Other stakeholders to be considered during the M&A process include investors, partners, and others that are directly affected by the sale. A brand strategy that takes into account these members’ best interests will lead to a better rate of success.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Power of Recurring Revenue

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Buyers and sellers alike love recurring revenue.  But what is it exactly that makes it so attractive?  Recurring revenue is generally viewed as a very good factor as it indicates positive cash flow, the potential for growth, business success and business stability.  Let’s take a closer look at how it can benefit you.

Show You’re in Demand

Businesses, including IT companies, are valued higher if they can show recurring revenue, such as monthly subscriptions, SaaS subscriptions, or a transaction that consistently occurs.  If your business is centered on a subscription based platform and you have high subscription levels, then you can expect keen interest from prospective buyers.

If you want to show a prospective buyer that your business is a good bet, then recurring revenue is a great place to start.  Recurring revenue indicates that you have ongoing consumers and that means ongoing revenue.  But recurring revenue indicates something else as well, namely, it indicates that your business is providing a consistent service that is consistently in demand.

Take the Pressure Off Buyers

Buyers like predictability.  Recurring revenue means that a buyer knows that he or she can buy a business and count on income from day one.

Sellers can often forget that most buyers get nervous when they are making any kind of business buying decision.  The power of recurring revenue is, in part, psychological as it allows buyers to realize that there will be revenue no matter what.  Even if they do little to develop the business, cash will flow in.  In other words, the psychological value of recurring revenue is that it takes much of the pressure off.

Examining Your Annual Recurring Revenue

If your business has a strong annual recurring revenue or “ARR”, then you should place a good deal of focus on this fact.  Many feel that a company’s ARR number is a powerful indicator of a company’s overall health.

Ultimately, recurring revenue indicates a great deal about your company.  High recurring revenue doesn’t just mean that you have a reliable source of income every period.  It indicates that your business is providing a service that is needed and valued.  Strong recurring revenues also indicate that your business is doing many things correctly and that your goods and/or services are of such a caliber that you are generating repeat business.

Visibility and Transparency

Savvy buyers also value visibility and transparency.  Thanks to this kind of consistent income, it is easier for buyers to plan for and manage future expenses and increase a business’s overall stability.

Part of properly showcasing your business is to emphasize your business’s recurring revenues if they do indeed occur.  A seasoned business broker can be an invaluable ally in helping you reveal your business in the best light possible.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Who Is Today’s Buyer?

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It has always been the American Dream to be independent and in control of one’s own destiny. Owning your own business is the best way to meet that goal.  Many people dream about owning their own business, but when it gets right down to it, they just can’t make that leap of faith that is necessary to actually own one’s own business.  Business brokers know from their experience that out of fifteen or so people who inquire about buying a business, only one will become an owner of a business.

Today’s buyer is most likely from the corporate world and well-educated, but not experienced in the business-buying process.  These buyers are very number-conscious and detail-oriented.  They require supporting documents for almost everything and will either use outside advisors or will do the verification themselves, but verify they will.  A person who is realistic and understands that he or she can’t buy a business with a profit of millions for $10 down is probably serious.  They must be able to make decisions and not depend on outside parties to do it for them.  They must also have the financial resources available, have an open mind, and understand that owning one’s own business means being the proverbial chief cook and bottle washer.

Today’s buyers are usually what might be termed “event” driven.  This means that the desire to own their own business is coupled with a need or reason.  Maybe they have been downsized out of a job, they don’t want to be transferred, they travel too much, they see no future in their current position, etc.  Many people have the desire, but not the reason.  Most people don’t have the courage to quit a job and the paycheck to venture out on their own.

There are the perennial lookers.  Those people who dream about owning their own business, are constantly looking, but will never leave the job to fulfill the dream.  In fact, perspective business buyers who have been looking for over six months would probably fit into this category.

Business brokers spend a lot of time interviewing buyers.  Here are just a few of the questions they will ask. The answers they receive will determine whether or not the prospective buyer is serious and qualified.

  • Why is the person considering buying a business?
  • Has the person ever owned their own business?
  • How long has the person been looking?
  • Is the person currently employed?
  • What kind of business is the person looking for?
  • Is he or she flexible in the kind of business?
  • What are the most important considerations?
  • How much money is available?
  • What is the person’s timeframe?
  • Does the person’s experience match the type of business under consideration?
  • Who else is involved in the purchase decision?
  • Is the person’s spouse positive about owning a business?

There are other questions and considerations, but those cited above reveal the depth of a buyer interview.  Business brokers want to work only with buyers who are serious about purchasing a business.  They don’t want to show a business to anyone who is not qualified, which is simply a waste of their time and the seller’s time.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

 

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Why Deals Fall Apart — Loss of Momentum

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Deals fall apart for many reasons – some reasonable, others unreasonable.

For example:

• The seller doesn’t have all his financials up to date.
• The seller doesn’t have his legal/environmental/administrative affairs up to date.
• The buyer can’t come up with the necessary financing.
• The well known “surprise” surfaces causing the deal to fall apart.

The list could go on and on and this subject has been covered many times. However, there are more hidden reasons that threaten to end a deal usually half to three-quarters of the way to closing. These hidden reasons silently lead to a lack of or loss of momentum.

This essentially means a lack of forward progress. No one notices at first. Even the advisors who are busy doing the necessary due diligence and paperwork don’t notice the waning or missing momentum.  Even though a slow-down in momentum may not be noticeable at first, an experienced business intermediary will catch it.

Let’s say a buyer can’t get through to the seller.  The buyer leaves repeated messages, but the calls are not returned.  (The reverse can also happen, but for our example we’ll assume the seller is unresponsive.) The buyer then calls the intermediary.  The intermediary assures the buyer that he or she will call the seller and have him or her get in touch.  The intermediary calls the seller and receives the same response. Calls are not returned.  Even if calls are returned the seller may fail to provide documents, financial information, etc.

To the experienced intermediary the “red flag” goes up. Something is wrong. If not resolved immediately, the deal will lose its momentum and things can fall apart quite rapidly. What is this hidden element that causes a loss of momentum? It is generally not price or anything concrete.

It often boils down to an emotional issue. The buyer or seller gets what we call “cold feet.” Often it is the seller who has decided that he really doesn’t want to sell and doesn’t know what to do.  It may also be that the buyer has discovered something that is quite concerning and doesn’t know how to handle it. Maybe the chemistry between buyer and seller is just not there for one or the other of them. Whatever the reason, the reluctant party just tries to ignore the proceedings and lack of momentum occurs.

The sooner this loss of momentum is addressed, the better the chance for the deal to continue to closing. Because the root of the problem is often an emotional issue, it has to be faced directly. An advisor, the intermediary or someone close to the person should immediately make a personal visit. Another suggestion is to get the buyer and seller together for lunch or dinner, preferably the latter. Regardless of how it happens, the loss of momentum should be addressed if the sale has any chance of closing.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Three Ways to Negotiate

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Basically, there are three major negotiation methods.

1. Take it or leave it. A buyer makes an offer or a seller makes a counter-offer – both sides can let the “chips fall where they may.”

2. Split the difference. The buyer and seller, one or the other, or both, decide to split the difference between what the buyer is willing to offer and what the seller is willing to accept. A real oversimplification, but often used.

3. This for that. Both buyer and seller have to find out what is important to each.  So many of these important areas are non-monetary and involve personal things such as allowing the owner’s son to continue employment with the firm.  The buyer may want to move the business.

There is an old adage that advises, “Never negotiate your own deal!”

The first thing both sides have to decide on is who will represent them.  Will they have their attorney, their intermediary or will they go it alone?  Intermediaries are a good choice for a seller.  They have done it before, are good advocates for their side and they understand the company and the seller.

How do the parties get together in a win-win negotiation?  The first step is for both sides to work with their advisors to settle on the price and deal structure positions.  Both sides should be able to present their side of these issues.  Which is more important – price or terms, or non-monetary items?

Information is vital to a buyer.  Buyers should keep in mind that the seller knows more about the business than he or she does.  Both buyer and seller need to anticipate what is important to the other and keep that in mind when discussing the deal.  Buyer and seller should do due diligence on each other. Both buyer and seller must be able to walk away from a deal that is just not going to work.

Bob Woolf, the famous sports agent said in his book, Friendly Persuasion: My Life as a Negotiator, “I never think of negotiating against anyone.  I work with people to come to an agreement.  Deals are put together.”

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Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.