Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article from Small Business Trends entitled “41% of Entrepreneurs Will Leave Their Small Business Behind in 5 Years” summarizes a report by a global financial services firm that looks at business ownership and entrepreneurialism in modern America.  The report found that almost 60% of wealthy investors would consider starting their own business while more than 40 percent of current business owners are planning to exit their business. Of the 41% of business owners who are planning to leave their business in the next 5 years, half of them plan to sell their business.

The report highlights how heirs in the family are often reluctant to take over the family business and that many business owners underestimate what they need to reach a successful sale. The report notes that 58% of business owners have never had their business appraised and 48% have no formal exit strategy.  One of the main takeaways from this should be that small business owners need to prepare for selling their business and they should create an exit plan well in advance.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article on the Axial Forum entitled “9 Reasons Acquisitions Fail — and How to Beat the Odds” shows us how looking at why others have failed can help you to learn from their mistakes in order to have a successful acquisition. Here are 9 common causes of failed acquisitions:

  1. Strategy – Poor strategic logic was used and it was not a good fit for integration
  2. Synergy – Potential synergy between the companies is overestimated or the complexity is underestimated
  3. Culture – Incompatibility between the companies, ineffective integration, or compromising the positive aspects of one business to create uniformity
  4. Leadership – Poor leadership, not enough participation in the transaction & integration process, clashes between leaders
  5. Transaction Parameters – Paying too much, inappropriate deal structure, negotiations taking too long
  6. Due Diligence – Not enough investigation is done beforehand, failure to act on findings
  7. Communications – Lack of proper communication can result in talent loss, customer loss, and many more problems which eventually lead to failure
  8. Key Talent – Failing to identify or retain key employees
  9. Technology – Failing to identify incompatibilities or underestimating the complexity and time required for integration

Integration involves several steps starting from the initial strategic thinking, to due diligence and then carrying on into the months after the deal is made. Deal makers and business owners need to consider all steps of the process to make an acquisition successful.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted by WilmingtonBiz Insights entitled “How Does Exit Planning Protect Business Value?” explains the importance of exit planning in retaining and growing business value.

The article gives an example of two similar businesses, both valued at $5 million, who take different strategies towards increasing their companies’ values before selling. The first company invests in more equipment and hiring more employees, but does not work with any advisors besides their CPA at tax time. The second company works with their CPA, an exit planning advisor and a tax specialist. They build a strong management team, cut the owner’s work week in half, and convert the company to an S corporation. They also work with a business broker to buy two smaller competitors which broadens their market.

When the Great Recession of 2008 hits, both companies are affected but in very different ways. The first company has to lay off all the new employees they hired and their new equipment sits unused. They end up selling their business for less than what it was valued at. The second company has minimal layoffs and has extra money saved from strategic tax planning. Their business is valued at $15 million because of the two businesses they bought, and they are able to exit their business with $10 million profit. No matter what unforeseen circumstances may occur, the right planning can make a huge difference.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Divestopedia entitled “Constructing a Buyer List and Finding the Right Buyer for Your Company” explains how buyer lists are created and what makes a good buyer. The first step in constructing the buyer list is to determine the objectives of the seller such as leaving a legacy or retaining the local employment base.

M&A advisors will have many existing resources to start with including an in-house database, established relationships in the industry, business networks, and more. Adding your competitors to the list is another thing to consider, which will depend on the goals of the seller and the reputation of the competitors.

The ability to pay is the main qualifier to look at in finding a good buyer. Consider the following factors when looking for a buyer who can pay a premium:

  • Economies of scale
  • Economies of scope and cross-selling opportunities
  • Unlocking underutilized assets
  • Access to proprietary technology
  • Increased market power
  • Shoring up weaknesses in key business areas
  • Synergy
  • Geographical or other diversification
  • Providing an opportunistic work environment for key talent
  • To reach critical mass for an IPO or achieve post-IPO full value
  • Vertical integration

The best way to find the right buyer is to approach all potential buyers, talk to them and see if it’s a good fit.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Business Sale Report entitled “Almost a quarter launch businesses with a sale in mind” summarizes the results of a new study which asked nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs about their start-up history and their motivation for launching businesses. The study found that 23% of those starting their own business have their exit as a primary goal, with 83% of those claiming that selling at a profit is their main incentive.

The top 2 answers for why they started their business were that “It was a passion of mine” and “I knew it would eventually sell well and had exit in mind.” All of the study participants said that they wished they had an exact way to know the value of their business and more than half said they had no real way of knowing the value of their business.

If you are starting a business with a main goal of selling the business for profit, it is essential to know your valuation so that you get a fair price.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Buying? Selling? Seven Key Points to Consider

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Buying or selling a business is one of the most important decisions that most people ever make.  Before jumping in, there are several points that should be taken into consideration.  Let’s take a moment to examine some of the key points involved in buying or selling a business.

Factor #1 - What are You Selling?

Whether buying or selling a business it is important to ask a few simple questions.  What is for sale?  What is not included with the buyer’s investment?  Does the sale price include any real estate?  Are vital assets, such as machinery, included in the sale price?

Factor # 2 - What are the Range of Assets?

It is very important to understand the range of assets that are included with a business.  What is proprietary?  Are there formulations, patents and software involved?  These types of assets are often the core of the business and will be essential for its long-term success.

Factor # 3 - Evaluating Assets for Profitability

Not all assets are created equally.  If assets are not earning money or are too expensive to maintain, then they should probably be sold.  Determining which assets are a “drag” on a business’s bottom line takes due diligence and a degree of focus, but it is an important step and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Factor # 4 - Determining Competitive Advantage

What gives a business a competitive advantage?  And for those looking to sell a business, if your business doesn’t have a competitive advantage, what can you do to give it an advantage?  Buyers should understand where a business’s competitive advantage lies and how they can best exploit that advantage moving forward.

Factor # 5 - How Can the Business Be Grown?

Both buyers and sellers alike should strive to determine how a business can be grown.  Sellers don’t necessarily need to have implemented business growth strategies upon placing a business up for sale, but they should be prepared to provide prospective buyers with ideas and potential strategies.  If a business can’t be grown this is, of course, a factor that should be weighed very carefully.

Factor # 6 - Working Capital

Some businesses are far more capital intensive than others.  Understand how much working capital you’ll need to run any prospective business.

Factor # 7 - Management Depth

Businesses are only as good as their people.  It is important to ask just how deep your management team is, how experienced that team is and what you can expect from that team.  How dependent is the business on the owner or manager?  If the business may fall apart upon the leaving of the owner or a manager, then this is a fact you need to know.

Buying or selling a business is often more complex than people initially believe.  There are many variables that must be taken into consideration, including a range of other factors not discussed in this article ranging from how financial reporting is undertaken to barriers of entry, labor relationships and more.  Due diligence, asking the right questions and patience are all key in making your business a more attractive asset to buyers or for finding the right business for you.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Who Exactly Owns Personal Goodwill and Why Does it Matter?

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Personal goodwill can have a profound impact on both small and medium-sized businesses.  In fact, it can even impact the sales of larger companies. Ultimately, understanding how personal goodwill is cultivated is of great value for any company.

During the process of building a business, a founder builds one or more of the following: a positive personal reputation, a personal relationship with key players such as large customers and suppliers and the founder’s reputation associated with the creation of products, inventions, designs and more.

What Creates Personal Goodwill?

Personal goodwill can be established in many ways, for example, professionals such as doctors, dentists and lawyers can all build personal goodwill with their clients, especially over extended periods of time.  One of the most interesting aspects of building personal goodwill is that it is essentially non-transferable, as it is invariably attached to and associated with, a particular key figure, such as the founder of a company.  Simply stated, personal goodwill can be a powerful force, but it does have one substantial drawback. This is as the saying goes, “the goodwill goes home at night.”

How Does It Impact Buying or Selling a Business?

Buying a business where personal goodwill has been a cornerstone of a business’s success and growth presents some obvious risks.  Likewise, it can be difficult to sell a business where personal goodwill plays a key role in the business, as a buyer must take this important factor into consideration.  Certain businesses such as medical, accounting or legal practices, for example, depend heavily on existing clients. If those clients don’t like the new owner, they simply may go elsewhere.

Now, with all of this stated, it is, of course, possible to sell a business built partially or mostly around personal goodwill.  Oftentimes, buyers will want some protection in the event that the business faces serious problems if the seller departs.

Solutions that Work for Both Parties

One approach is to require the seller to stay with the business and remain a key public face for a period of time.  An effective transition period can be pivotal for businesses built around personal goodwill. A second approach is to have some form of “earn-out.”  In this model, at the end of the year lost business is factored in, and a percentage is then subtracted from monies owed to the seller. Another option is that the funds from the down payment are placed in escrow and adjustments are made to those funds.  It is important to note that the courts have decided that a business does not own the goodwill, the owner of the business does.

No doubt, businesses in which personal goodwill plays a major role, present their own unique challenge.  Working with an experienced professional, such as a business broker, is an exceptional way to proceed in buying or selling this type of business.

Copyright: Business Brokers Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article posted on PR Newswire entitled “Business owners' love of work may hinder succession planning” explains the parallels between the number of business owners with no plans to retire and the lack of succession planning. In a recent poll, over 70% of business owners said they are not planning to retire, don’t know when they will retire, or do not plan to retire for at least 11 years. The survey also reported that 2 out of 3 business owners do not have a succession plan or a clear understanding of the importance of one.

Even if there are no immediate plans for retiring, business owners should have a succession plan in place to protect the business, partners, employees and customers.  If something were to suddenly happen to the business owner such as serious illness or an untimely death, a succession plan would help make sure everything goes smooth with the transition of the business.

To get started with creating an exit plan, business owners can take 5 simple steps:

  1. Set goals & objectives
  2. Determine the value of your business
  3. Consider options for the business in the case of disability, retirement or death
  4. Develop a plan and documentation with an advisor, attorney and accountant
  5. Fund the plan

You never know when something unexpected could occur, so it’s never too early to start creating a succession plan.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted by Forbes entitled “Baby boomers are selling their businesses to millennial entrepreneurs, and it's a brilliant idea” highlights the fact that many baby boomers will soon be looking to sell their businesses and this creates excellent business opportunities for millennials. Many of these baby boomer businesses are well established having no debt, loyal customers and proven business models which make them a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to take over instead of letting the businesses close down.

Here are 7 places to start looking for these baby boomer businesses:

  1. Local chamber of commerce
  2. Local CPAs
  3. Local real estate brokers
  4. Local community bankers
  5. Business brokers
  6. Go directly to the business owner
  7. Craigslist or eBay

Overall, staying connected with local professionals in your area as well as being proactive in searching out businesses for sale will help you to find a great business opportunity. Once you find a legitimate business, find out if it’s making a profit. If so, ask why the owner wants to sell and if not, find out why.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Forbes entitled “Selling your business in 3 to 5 years? Buy another company now” explains how acquiring another company can significantly increase the value of your business before you decide to sell. The first thing to understand is that the multiple of earnings paid for a company increases at an accelerating rate with size. Larger EBITDA means larger multiples, and larger companies are generally less risky so a buyer is willing to pay more.

Acquiring another business may also amount to cost savings and operational improvements when the companies are integrated. Combine these savings with organic revenue growth and a larger multiplier when the companies are combined, and this can add up to a huge increase in your company’s value. So if you’re thinking of selling within 3-5 years, this could be a good strategy to consider.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from the Denver Post entitled “Selling your business? Focus on the key business drivers so buyers pay top dollar” explains how focusing on certain key factors of your business can help you get the highest possible price when selling your business. Although many key business drivers vary among industries, there are four drivers that apply across the board:

  1. History of increasing revenues and profits over the past 3-5 years
  2. Strategic business plan that shows strong growth, competitive advantage, and products or services that can be sold across multiple industries
  3. Future cash flow including expected EBITDA performance, expected working capital investment requirements, and expected fixed-asset investment requirements
  4. Strong management team and strong operating systems in place

Business owners should get a detailed business audit and analysis from a business consultant so they can see where their business’s strengths and weaknesses are. This will show the owner what business drivers to focus on improving in order to get the highest price for their business.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on Divestopedia entitled “What Is Your Company Actually Worth?” explores how buyers and sellers often perceive a company’s worth differently and how business owners misjudge their company’s value. Private company valuation is a complex process and most owners have difficulty staying objective when it comes to a business in which they have put their life’s work into. On the other hand, to a buyer, the company is an asset to be acquired at the lowest possible price, which often leads to a large difference in perception between a buyer and seller.

An experience advisor can help negate these problems and make the sale process better for the owner for the following reasons:

  1. The business owner can focus on factors of the business which will increase the valuation such as EBITDA, sales, gross profit margins, customer growth and employee skills.
  2. The owner will get an extensive look at the financial health of their business from an advisor along with recommendations for improvement.
  3. An advisor will also be an experienced negotiator, helping the owner get the best sale price for the business.

The key to avoiding mistakes in selling a business starts off by getting an accurate valuation of the business and making sure everything is analyzed effectively to prepare for a profitable sale.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Similar Companies Can Have Huge Value Differences

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Can two companies in the same industry have very different valuations?  In short, the answer is a resounding, yes.  Let’s take an example of two companies that both have an EBITDA of $6 million but with two very different values.  In fact, Business One is valued at five times EBITDA, which prices it at $30 million whereas Business Two is valued at seven times EBITDA, meaning it has a value of $42 million.

Value Difference Checklist

  1. Revenue Size
  2. Profitability
  3. The Market
  4. Growth Rate
  5. Regional/Global Distribution
  6. Management & Employees
  7. Capital Equipment Requirements
  8. Systems/Controls
  9. Uniqueness/Proprietary
  10. Intangibles (Intellectual property/patents/brand, etc.)

There are quite a few variables on the above checklist that stand out, with the top one being that of growth rate. Growth rate is a major value driver when buyers are considering value.

Business Two, for example, with its seven times EBITDA has a growth rate of 50%, whereas Business One, with its five times EBITDA has a growth rate of just 12%.

Discovering the real growth rate story means answering some pretty important questions.

  1. Are the company’s projections achievable and believable?
  2. Where is the company’s growth coming from?
  3. Are there long-term contracts currently in place?
  4. Where is the growth originating?  In other words, what services or products are driving growth?  Will those services or products continue to drive growth in the future?
  5. How is the business obtaining its customers for the projected growth?
  6. How reliable are the contracts/orders?

Ultimately, finding the difference in value between two businesses, that otherwise appear similar, usually resides in growth rate.  This is a factor that should not be overlooked.  It is essential to know a company’s growth rate as well as the key questions to ask regarding its growth.  If you are going to obtain an accurate valuation as well as understanding the valuation between different companies, this part of the process cannot be overlooked.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article posted by The National Law Review entitled “Thinking of Selling? Start Early, Build Your Team” explains the importance of putting together a good team of trusted advisors well in advance of selling your business. Your team should include an attorney, accountant, investment banker, and wealth manager. This team will help you with various aspects of selling your business such as:

  • Setting a realistic valuation on the business
  • Finding potential buyers
  • Handling due diligence and information requests from buyers
  • Structuring a transaction for tax & liability protection
  • Dealing with the sale proceeds and making sure your goals are met

It is a good idea to put this team together as soon as possible if you’re thinking of selling, so everyone has time to prepare.  There are so many aspects to a business sale and it is essential to have an experienced team of professionals to guide you in the process.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from The San Angelo Standard-Times entitled “Business tips: Don't neglect due diligence when buying a business” emphasizes the important of due diligence when buying a business, which consists of looking into and understanding the important aspects and fine details of the business before closing.

The first aspect to consider is if the business is right for you and your personal circumstances. Taking over a new business will require some help from the previous owner who has knowledge of the business and the industry. You will also want to take into account how many hours are needed, if the job will involve a lot of physical work, and if your family supports you in the purchase of this type of business.

Reviewing and analyzing the seller’s numbers and documents is also a huge part of due diligence. Consider using the help of a CPA, consultant or business broker to go over the financials of the business. You will also want to look into things such as if there are any claims on the business or if the business owes back taxes.  Doing your due diligence now will ensure that there are no surprises later on in the process.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted by the Smart Business Network entitled “Planning an exit when a succession plan isn’t an option” explains that selling your business should be part of your exit strategy when creating a succession plan is not an option. To prepare a business for sale, the business owner should recognize the strengths of the business which would appeal to potential buyers and should also have a good understanding of the business’ financials.

Business owners may also want to work with a bank that is experienced in exit planning. The bank can assist with providing insight into how buyers will view their business and what obstacles may occur while a buyer is trying to finance the acquisition. Banks will also be able to work with the buyer in assisting them with financing.

It’s important for a business owner to work with experienced professionals who have worked with sales, acquisitions and exit strategies to help them prepare for a business sale.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted by Business.com entitled “Why It's Prime Time to Buy a Business from a Retiring Baby Boomer” gives several good reasons why it is a good idea to consider purchasing an existing business, as a flood of baby boomers will be looking to sell their businesses and retire over the next decade.

There are many benefits to purchasing an existing business:

  1. Minimal upfront costs and you not only purchase the business but also the brand, customer-base, management policies and more.
  2. Low risk because the business is already established and has a proven track record.
  3. Steady cash flow along with employees and equipment.

With the generation of baby boomers looking to sell, there will be ample opportunities available for buyers. It’s important to stay in the loop and keep an eye out on available businesses by staying connected to your professional network, brushing up on local & industry publications, looking at online marketplaces, and working with a business broker.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article written by Live Oak Bank entitled “6 Business Acquisition Tips from SBA Loan Experts” outlines six factors that lenders review for loans financing mergers and acquisitions.

  1. Stable or Positive Trend – Not only a positive trend but stability in these trends are what lenders look at to make sure that any recent growth or improvement is sustainable. A decrease in revenue is a red flag and a negative trend should be stabilized or reversed.
  2. Business Plan – Buyers need to have a business and transition plan for the business they are acquiring so lenders can see they have a good understanding of the business and plans for improvement.
  3. Key Employees – Lenders like to see that key employees will stay on with the new owner, which helps lower the risk and make the transition easier.
  4. Seller Transition Period – Make sure you have a transition plan in place where the seller is able to help train and assist the new owner.
  5. Seller Financing – The seller financing a portion of the deal shows the lender that they are confident in the new owner and lowers the risk factors.
  6. Working Capital – M&A lenders will review the financials of the business to see what working capital is needed. The buyer should demonstrate a clear understanding of how much and what type of working capital is needed for the business transition.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article from Divestopedia entitled “To Sell Your Business, Start with the End in Mind” explains the importance of planning your exit strategy in the early stages of your business.  The article points out that emotion plays a big part in humans’ decision making process, and when a potential buyer perceives that the owner has not prepared a company for sale, they associate this with uncertainty, effort and stress that will accompany rebuilding the business.

Focusing on building your company’s culture is also very important for exit planning because a well-established company culture will continue to endure after you’re gone. Creating a self-sustaining culture that involves talented employees, succession plans for key people, talent acquisition and talent retention can help your business be seen as more valuable in the future.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on BizJournals.com entitled “How to know when the ride is over and it's time to get off” gives an overview of how to know when to exit your business and how to be prepared when the time is right. Here are 4 signs that it might be time to sell your business:

  1. Your health is declining or your business is negatively affecting your health
  2. You’ve lost your passion for the business
  3. Your priorities have changed and the business is no longer your top priority
  4. You are hesitant or unable to invest money in the growth of your business

Business owners should periodically review these factors and ask themselves if they are still the right person for the job. It’s also good to consult with a trusted advisor to start planning an exit strategy now so you’re prepared when the time comes to sell all or part of your business.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on Forbes.com entitled “Business Value And Lottery Tickets” explains how you have to be realistic about your goals for your business especially in how they relate to your exit plan in the future.  Take a look at how your business is doing and then quantify your goals for your business by asking yourself questions such as “How much money do I need to have when I leave my business?”

Next, you need to figure out a plan for your business to grow enough to reach those goals. The article states three common problems that owners have in this situation:

  1. Relying on assumptions instead of consulting with an exit-planning advisor
  2. Trying to do everything instead of delegating
  3. Remaining stagnant instead of taking on new roles to ignite change in the business

It is also important to have a good management team in place to help you achieve your goals. It’s not luck, and you have to look at the numbers and facts to get your business where you need it to be for a successful exit.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from the Axial Forum entitled “How to Handle Risky Customer Concentration in an M&A Target” explains the best practices to follow if a potential acquisition has a lot of customer concentration. In many companies, it’s common for 20% of customers to account for 80% of the company’s revenue. In this case, it is vital to talk to multiple people within these important accounts and ask a variety of questions to make sure you find out how their relationship with the company is really structured.

Most importantly, you want to ask the contact how likely they would be to recommend the target company to another colleague, which in turn will help you determine the Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating of the company. The NPS is very useful because it has statistically shown that higher rated companies are more profitable, outpace their competitors, and have stronger cross-selling opportunities.

It’s a good practice to look deeper into a company’s relationships with its customers when acquiring a business that you’ll want to eventually grow.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on The Standard entitled “Do you have a business you are eyeing? Consider these tips before taking the leap” explores a variety of factors to take into consideration before buying a business. Here are some things to think about when making the decision to buy:

  1. Evaluate yourself and make sure you have the skills to take on the specific type of business
  2. Find out why the business is being sold
  3. Carry out due diligence in screening the business so there’s no surprises along the way
  4. Obtain a professional valuation of the business
  5. Close the deal and consider using a legal officer for the final process

Always be sure to find out the good and the bad before you decide to purchase a business.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article posted on BizJournals.com entitled “Top 5 rules on preparing your company for sale” explains how the best time to begin preparing your business for sale is right now. The article highlights these main rules to follow:

  1. Start auditing your financial statements now as these will be required by the purchaser.
  2. Keep appropriate, complete corporate books and records so everything is ready to be presented to a buyer when the time comes.
  3. Obtain a professional valuation of your company so you can use this as a roadmap for growing your company and ultimately maximizing the exit price.
  4. Use the valuation of your company to determine what assets are superfluous and will not be valued. This can also help you make future decisions with your business strategy.
  5. Start the process now for finding a second in command who could easily replace the founder of the company. This will be very valuable to the future buyer after the sale is made.

Starting to prepare your business for sale now will help make the sale process much easier when you decide it’s time to sell.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from The Axial Forum entitled “Maximizing Your Business Value Before a Sale” gives insight into how to get the most out of a business sale. According to the article, the key to a successful sale comes in driving business value before selling the business. This can be done in a wide variety of areas of the business, from aiming to increase sales growth to product innovation, improvement of backend systems, and more.

Many of the methods and value-driving factors can take many months, if not several years, to implement and improve, so proper thought and planning is necessary to get the most out of the process. In the ideal situation, maximizing business value ahead of and in preparation for a sale will make a business much more attractive to a potential buyer.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Divestopedia.com entitled “5 Essential Steps to Ensure Due Diligence in Private Company Acquisitions” explains the necessity of due-diligence during the acquisition process. Due diligence cannot be stressed enough and the fact that it is always popping up just shows its importance and relevance to a successful deal process. The following steps outline critical components of completing due diligence for an acquiring company:

  1. Construct an Investment Thesis
  2. Analyze Your Competitive Position
  3. Measure the Strength and Stability of the Acquired Company
  4. Revenue Synergy
  5. Integration

While this is not an exhaustive list, the aforementioned steps outline an important process necessary for any acquirer to ensure they are best prepared for a successful acquisition.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on The Axial Forum entitled “Capital Superabundance is Transforming Middle-Market M&A” explores the effect that the abundance of cheap capital is having on middle-market transactions. This “capital superabundance” is having effects across the middle-market sector among private equity firms, corporate buyers, investment bankers, and middle market companies alike. Brand value is more important than ever in the eyes of private equity companies and corporate buyers, investment bankers are using data and advanced technological systems to find clients, and for sellers, there has never been a better time to sell a business.

The fact of the matter is the market is hot right now. Though capital superabundance is just one of many varying parts of this market change, it is a driving factor behind much of the success we’re seeing.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted on Divestopedia.com entitled “Know Your Buyer” outlines the importance of knowing and understanding potential buyers in the market when putting a business up for sale. This is important because knowing the different types of potential buyers will give an owner insight into how to approach and appeal to the types of buyers they want to take over their company.

Different types of buyers will likely have different motivations and therefore produce different outcomes for a business transaction, so knowing and understanding them will help to give an owner better control over the future of their company and ideally help make the right decision on who to sell to.

Click here to read the full article.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article posted on Business2Community.com entitled “How to Close the Deal and When to Walk Away When Buying or Selling a Business” explains the business sale process and how to differentiate between a good deal and a bad deal during the process. Closing a deal involves quite a bit of legwork, including producing a letter of intent, doing due diligence, acquiring financing, signing a purchase agreement, and actually closing the deal. These items can be easier with the help of a business advisor, broker, or attorney, but emphasis should be placed on the due diligence aspect: knowing the business inside and out is vital to a successful sale.

Walking away from a deal can be difficult for a motivated buyer, but is sometimes necessary to avoid emotional and financial disaster. The following red flags help to signify that it’s time to walk away:

  1. Inconsistencies
  2. Neglect
  3. Undisclosed Problems
  4. Poor Credit Rating
  5. The Industry is in Decline

Being prepared is one of the best things that a buyer can do in the business sale process. Whether preparation proves a business deal is worth it or uncovers red flags, it will be worth the effort.

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A recent Axial Forum article entitled “3 Reasons an M&A Advisor is Worth the Cost” presents impressive statistics regarding the utilization of M&A advisors in the sale process. 100% of owners that used an advisor when selling their business stated that the advisor had a positive impact on the sale, with 84% of these sellers achieving a sale price equal to or higher than the advisor’s initial estimate.

While these types of statistics are expected among industry insiders, many business owners will still hesitate to hire an advisor for the sale of their businesses. As the article outlines, advisors can help to identify weak links in a business’ management team, find quick ways to increase cash flow, and whip financials into shape, among many other things.

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A recent Forbes article entitled “The Question Every Owner Should Ask: Is Now The Right Time To Sell The Business?” explains why choosing to sell sooner is actually better in a lot of ways than putting off a business sale for a few years. The author goes on to explain how when exits are planned for some arbitrary point in the future, owners often never seem to make it there, ending up wanting to sell but never actually selling. The article goes on to explain five important reasons to consider selling now:

  1. You May Be Choking Your Business
  2. Money is Cheap
  3. Timing Your Sale is a Fool’s Errand
  4. Cyber Crime
  5. There is No Corporate Ladder

Being an owner gives so much power over the path a business takes, whether it’s a sale or acquisition or even the owner staying on to work on the business for an extended period. The beauty of this is that the owner has the choice over whether or not to sell, but also the choice on what to do after. Starting another business is a common route to take for successful first-time entrepreneurs after an exit, so the sooner a sale occurs, the sooner they can get started on another business.

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A recent article posted on the Axial Forum entitled “7 Reasons to Perform Sell-Side Due Diligence” talks about why sell-side due diligence can be a useful and productive technique within the M&A process. While buy-side due diligence is much more common, sellers can take advantage of this practice to maximize the value presented to potential sellers so that they can ultimately get more out of the sale.

Sell-side due diligence can help to uncover and improve:

  1. Weak financial and operational data systems
  2. Overextended employee resources
  3. Unclear financial narrative
  4. Unhelpful “tax guy”
  5. Multiple entities and no consolidation
  6. Likely purchase price reductions
  7. Ineffective tax structuring

In the end, due diligence is part of any M&A process. But with so many things factoring into a successful sale, both buyers and sellers have a responsibility to know the business inside and out if they want to get the most out of a transaction.

Click here to read the full article.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Top 3 Key Factors to Consider about Earnings

Two businesses could report the same numeric value for earnings but that doesn’t always tell the whole story.  As it turns out, there is far more to earnings than may initially meet the eye.  While two businesses might have a similar sale price, that certainly doesn’t mean that they are of equal value.

In order to truly understand the value of a business, we must dig deeper and look at the three key factors of earnings.  In this article, we’ll explore each of these three key earning factors and explore quality of earnings, sustainability of earnings after acquisition and what is involved in the verification of information.

Key Factor # 1 - Quality of Earnings

Determining the quality of earnings is essential.  In determining the quality of earnings, you’ll want to figure out if earnings are, in fact, padded.  Padded earnings come in the form of a large amount of “add backs” and one-time events.  These factors can greatly change earnings.  For example, a one-time event, such as a real estate sale, can completely alter figures, producing earnings that are simply not accurate and fail to represent the actual earning potential of the company.

Another important factor to consider is that it is not unusual for all kinds of companies to have some level of non-recurring expenses on an annual basis.  These expenses can range from the expenditure for a new roof to the write-down of inventory to a lawsuit.  It is your job to stay on guard against a business appraiser that restructures earnings without any allowances for extraordinary items.

Key Factor # 2 - Sustainability of Earnings After the Acquisition

Buyers are rightfully concerned about whether or not the business they are considering is at the apex of its business cycle or if the company will continue to grow at the previous rate.  Just as professional sports teams must carefully weigh the signing of expensive free-agents, attempting to determine if an athlete is past his or her prime, the same holds true for those looking to buy a new business.

Key Factor # 3 - Verification of Information

Buyers can carefully weigh quality and earnings and the sustainability of earnings after acquisition and still run into serious problems.  A failure to verify information can spell disaster.  In short, buyers must verify that all information is accurate, timely and as unbiased as is reasonably possible.  There are many questions that must be asked and answered in this regard, such as has the company allowed for possible product returns or noncollectable receivables and has the seller been honest.  The last thing any buyer wants is to discover skeletons hiding in the closet only when it is too late.

By addressing these three key factors buyers can dramatically reduce their chances of being unpleasantly surprised.  On paper, two businesses with very similar values may look essentially the same.  However, by digging deeper and exercising caution, it is possible to reach very different conclusions as to the value of the businesses in question.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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