Around the Web: A Month in Summary

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A recent article posted on the Axial Forum entitled “What Do Buyers Look for in the Lower Middle Market?” explains how to make your business valuable to potential buyers and how to find the right buyers for your business. The buyers in the lower middle market are usually strategic buyers, financial buyers, private equity firms, and search fund advisors.

Buyers in this market are generally looking for the following characteristics:

  • A strong management team who has incentive and is prevented from competing against the company if their employment is terminated
  • Stability and predictability of revenue and cash flow
  • Low customer concentration
  • Other value drivers such as state-of-the-art operating systems
  • High level of preparedness

The article warns about the biggest obstacles for owners.  Business owners should consult with experienced deal attorneys and investment bankers before speaking to any buyers. They should also consult with advisors before the company goes on the market to make sure the business is properly prepared for sale. A business owner’s management team may also be subject to rigorous professional assessment and background checks if a private equity or financial buyer is interested.

Currently in the marketplace, buyers are offering amounts higher than the historical norms. This means that along with the higher sale prices, sellers are subject to more scrutiny through due diligence. This is all the more reason for a seller to be prepared and to work with experienced advisors to get their business ready for sale.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from the Axial Forum entitled “5 Ways Sell-Side Customer Diligence Can Maximize Sale Prices” explains how third-party sell-side customer diligence has become increasingly more common and why it can help sellers maximize and justify sale prices. Here are the 5 ways this due diligence can help you get the best sale price:

  1. Determine if it’s the right time for a sale – Positive customer feedback can help reinforce the decision to sell, and neutral or negative feedback can help improve the company so it will be better prepared for a sale.
  2. Attract and persuade buyers – Your confidential information memorandum (CIM) will show how strong customer relationships are, how your market share has grown, how the business has become more competitive, and more.  Thorough documentation of the health of customer relationships will also help attract buyers.
  3. Control the message – Having the seller contact their customers reduces the risk of anyone being tipped off about the sale and also allows for the seller to provide a better interpretation of the results.
  4. Prove there is a clear path for future growth – Pre-sale due diligence can help justify the ways in which the company can grow in the future.
  5. Accelerate the timeline – Having customer diligence done ahead of time will speed up the process so the buyer doesn’t have to do it.

Sell-side due diligence gives the buyer a good overall assessment of customer relationships while also allowing the seller to control the process of the findings and substantiate their asking price.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from Inc.com entitled “The Art of Finding the Right Buyer for Your Business” gives us three essential items to consider when selling a business.

 

  • Set goals – The first step is to set goals for the future of your business, yourself and your family. You’ll want to consider factors such as how the transaction will affect your employees, if you will continue on as a team member or transition out of the company, and what your overall goals for the company are. This will help you and your advisor customize the sale process.
  • Explore options – Be sure to know the difference between a private equity group and a strategic corporate buyer, and find out how they can benefit your business. There are also “family offices,” which are investors who manage the wealth of a family or multiple families, but they hold a business forever.
  • Keep an open mind – It’s especially important in the beginning to stay open to both types of buyers and find a good advisor who can help guide you towards the right buyer. Whether they are a financial buyer or a strategic buyer, you don’t know how they are going to handle the future of a company until you get to know them.

 

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article from the M&A Source entitled “Gold Rush: New Entrepreneurs Seek Search Funds to Finance Takeovers of Baby Boomer Businesses” explains how new entrepreneurs are looking for funding to take over businesses as the baby boomer generation starts to retire. There is currently an entrepreneurial generational gap with far less young entrepreneurs than there are baby boomers looking to sell. Healthy financial trends paired with recent tax reforms have contributed to making ideal conditions for the new generation of small business owners.

This new generation of entrepreneurs is coming from recent MBA graduates who are choosing to acquire a business instead of heading to Wall Street. Most notably, they are doing things differently when it comes to financing by turning to the search fund model which is seeing unprecedented growth as of late. This process known as entrepreneurship through acquisition (ETA) is also becoming increasingly popular in business schools which are now offering ETA programs.

It is believed that this trend is going to continue and that the timing is right. More schools are increasing awareness about it and the model will get easier as more baby boomers retire and sell their businesses. As more big money sources see this model gain popularity, there will be more money to support this growth as well.

Click here to read the full article.

 

A recent article posted by Divestopedia entitled “Avoiding the Biggest Deal Killer: Time” tells us that the key to a successful deal is preparation and momentum. This means that the seller should be fully ready when the business hits the marketplace, not when the first offer is made.

To keep the momentum going, there are 14 factors to consider:

  1. Know when it is a good time to sell your business
  2. Know why you want to sell
  3. Know the company’s strengths and weaknesses
  4. Know what you will do after you sell your business
  5. Know the value of your business
  6. Have a realistic asking price
  7. Be sure you are current on all taxes
  8. Make sure operational details are organized and recorded
  9. Know that the business can operate without you
  10. Know your company’s place in the market
  11. Be prepared with accurate financial statements, tax returns, and financial reports
  12. Know that your team of trusted advisors is ready
  13. Have a growth and marketing plan for your buyer
  14. Know what is most important to you so you can stay focused on the key issues and not worry too much over minor details

Click here to read the full article.

Copyright:Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Don’t Let the Dust Settle on Your Lease: 8 Factors to Consider

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Owners often neglect understanding their leases and this can be problematic.  If your business is location-sensitive, then the status of your lease could be of paramount importance.  Restaurants and retail businesses, for example, are usually location-dependent and need to pay special attention to their leases.  But with that stated, every business should understand in detail the terms of its leases.

There are many key factors involving leases that should not be ignored or overlooked.  If you adhere to these guidelines, you’ll be much more likely to control your outcomes.

  1. At the top of the list is the factor of length.  Usually, the longer your lease the better.
  1. Secondly, if the property does become available, then it is often in an owner’s best interest to try and buy the property or he or she may be forced to move.
  1.  When negotiating a lease, it is best to negotiate a way out of the lease if possible; this is particularly important for new businesses where the fate of your business is still an unknown.  Experts recommend opting for a one-year lease with a long option period.
  1.  You may want to sell your business at some point, and this is why it is important to see if your landlord will allow for the transfer of the lease and what his or her requirements are for the transfer.
  1.  Look at the big picture when signing a lease.  For example, what if your business is located in a shopping center?  Then attempt to have it written into your lease that you’re the only tenant that can engage in your type of business.
  1.  If you’re located in a shopping center, then try to outline in your agreement a reduction of your rent if an anchor store closes.
  1.  Your lease should detail what your responsibilities are and what responsibilities your landlords hold.  Keep in mind that if you are a new business, it is quite possible that your landlord will likely require a personal guarantee from you, the owner.
  1. The dollar amount is necessarily the most important factor in determining the quality of your lease.  It is important to carefully assess every aspect of the lease and understand all of its terms.

There are many other issues that should be taken into consideration when considering a lease.

  • For example, what happens in the event of a natural disaster or fire?  Who will pay to rebuild?
  • Is there a percentage clause and, if so, is that percentage clause reasonable?
  • How are real estate taxes, grounds-keeping fees and maintenance fees handled?

Investing the time to understand every aspect of your lease will not only save you headaches in the long run, but it will also help to preserve the integrity of your business.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Your Deal is Almost Done, Then Again, Maybe Not

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Having a letter of intent signed by both the buyer and the seller can be a very good feeling.  Everything can seem as though it is moving along just fine, but the due diligence process must still be completed.  It is during due diligence that a seller decides whether he or she is going to finalize the deal. Much depends on what is discovered during this important process, so remember the deal isn’t done until it is truly finalized.

In his book, The Art of M&A, Stanley Forster Reed noted that the purpose 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.”

Summed up another way, due diligence is quite comprehensive.  It probably comes as no surprise that this is when deals often fall apart.  Before diving in, it is critically important that you meet with such key people as appraisers, accountants, lawyers, a marketing team and other key people.

Let’s take a look at some of the main items that both buyers and sellers should have on their respective checklists.

Industry Structure

You should determine the percentage of sales by product line.  Additionally, take the time to review pricing policies, product warranties and check against industry guidelines.

Human Resources

Review your key people and determine what kind of employee turnover is likely.

Manufacturing

If your business is involved in manufacturing then every aspect of the manufacturing process must be evaluated.  Is the facility efficient? How old is the equipment? What is the equipment worth? Who are the key suppliers? How reliable will those suppliers be in the future?

Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights

Trademarks, patents and copyrights are intangible assets and it is important to know if those assets will be transferred.  Intangible assets can be the key assets of a business.

Operations

Operations is key, so you’ll want to review all current financial statements and compare those statements to the budget. You’ll also want to check all incoming sales and at the same time analyze both the backlog and the prospects for future sales.

Environmental Issues

Environmental issues are often overlooked, but they can be very problematic.  Issues such as lead paint and asbestos as well as ground and water contamination can all lead to time-consuming and costly fixes.

Marketing

Have a list of major customers ready.  You’ll want to have a sales breakdown by region and country as well.  If possible, you’ll want to compare your company’s market share with that of the competition.

The Balance Sheet

Accounts receivable will want to check for who is paying and who isn’t.  If there is bad debt, it is vital to find that debt.  Inventory should also be checked for work-in-progress as well as finished goods.  Non-usable inventory, the policy for returns and the policy for write-offs should all be documented.

Finally, when buying or selling a business, it is vital that you understand what is for sale, what is not for sale and what is included whether it is machinery or intangible assets such as intellectual property.  Understanding the barriers to entry, the company’s competitive advantage and what key agreements with employees and suppliers are already in place, will help ensure a smooth and stable transition.  There are many important questions that must be answered during the due diligence process.  Working closely with a business broker helps to ensure that none of these vital questions are overlooked.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Three Easy & Effective Ways to Negotiate

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Far too many prospective business buyers and sellers overlook just how important negotiations can be.  But they can also be tricky. In general, there are three approaches to negotiations. Thinking through your negotiation strategies well before the time to buy or sell is a savvy and prudent move.

Negotiation Tactic #1  Take It or Just Leave It

In this negotiating tactic, the buyer makes an offer and the seller makes a counter-offer, then both sides leave it there.  If the deal works fine. If it doesn’t work, that’s fine too.

It is usually smart to step back and ask yourself if you are comfortable with this approach.  Sometimes a small degree of flexibility can go a long way towards turning a proposed deal into a reality.

Negotiation Tactic #2  Maybe Consider Splitting the Difference

Another negotiating tactic is to simply offer to split the difference.  This tactic is pretty straightforward and it demonstrates a good deal of flexibility; however, the financials may not always make sense for both sides.

As always, it is important to think about all the factors involved in allowing a deal to fall apart, such as how much time will it take to find another buyer or another business to buy?  Showing a willingness to split the difference is often seen as a goodwill offer that can facilitate further negotiations within an environment of lower emotional intensity.

Remember, as long as the two sides are talking, a deal may be reached.  But when communication ceases, then the deal is definitely finished and not in a good way.

Negotiation Tactic #3  Negotiation from What is Most Important to Each Party

Understanding what is most important to both parties is usually critical for a successful deal.  Important areas can range from allowing a relative to stay with the business to moving the business to a new location.  Not all key points are directly linked to money, and it is vital to understand this all-important negotiating fact.

Negotiation Tactic #4  Bring in a Pro

In negotiations there is an old adage, “Never negotiate your own deal.”  Emotions can run high when it comes to buying or selling a business and then there is the problem of perspective.  Buyers and sellers are often lack the perspective that an outsider can bring.

Opting for help and guidance from someone who buys and sells businesses for a living, can be a huge step in the right direction.  Through a professional business broker, it is possible to not only establish a fair price but also address the array of intangibles that can go into buying and selling a business.

At the end of the day, deals are put together piece by piece, and skill is involved in the process.  Working with others is at the heart of successful negotiation, and that means taking into consideration what the other side wants and what the other side needs.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Red Flags are Not a Pretty Sight

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When it comes to selling a business, sellers simply must pay attention to red flags.  Problems can always pop up, and that’s why they need to keep their eyes open.

Rarely does a “white knight” ride in and rescue a business with no questions asked.  And if this were to happen, you should be asking, “Why?”  Until a deal is officially inked, sellers need to evaluate every aspect of a transaction to make sure something isn’t happening that could wreck the deal.

Common Red Flags to Watch For

One example would be having a company express interest in your business but you are never able to directly contact key players, such as the President or CEO.  The reason that this is a red flag is that it indicates that the interest level may not be as great as you initially hoped.

A second red flag example would be an individual buyer, with no experience in acquisitions or experience in your industry, looking to buy your business.  The reason that this second example could prove problematic, is that even if the inexperienced buyer is enthusiastic as the deal progresses, he or she may become nervous upon learning what a deal would actually entail.  In other words, the specifics and the reality of owning a business, or owning a business in your industry, could come as a shock to an inexperienced buyer.

Both of these examples above are examples of early-stage red flags.  But what about issues that pop up at later stages?  The simple fact is that red flags can come at any stage of the selling process.

A good example of a middle-stage red flag is when a seller is denied access to the buyer’s financial statements, which is of course essential to verify that the seller is able to actually make the acquisition.  A final-stage red flag example is an apparent loss of momentum, as the buying and selling process can be a long one.

Business Sellers Need to Protect Their Assets  

Sellers are usually very busy and don’t have time to waste; this is doubly true for owner/operators of businesses, as the time they invest with a prospective buyer is time that could be spent doing something else.

All too often, businesses begin to run into trouble when they place their business on the market.  If this trouble negatively impacts the bottom line, then the business can become more difficult to sell and the final sale price will likely be lower.

That’s why it is so essential that sellers protect themselves from buyers that are not truly interested or are simply not a good fit.  Working with a business broker is an easy and highly effective way for sellers to protect themselves from buyers that are simply not the right fit.  A broker helps to “weed out” unfit candidates.

While red flags are never good, that doesn’t mean that a red flag means a deal is a definitely at an end.  Especially with the guidance of an experienced business broker, many of these issues can be overcome.

In the end, if you, either as a buyer or seller, suspect that there is a problem, then you should take action.  The problem will not simply go away.  The single best way to deal with a red flag is to tackle it head on as soon as you recognize it.

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 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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When Selling Your Business, Play to Win

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If you are an independent business owner, you are most likely also an independent business seller–if not now, you will be somewhere down the road.  The Small Business Administration reports that three to five years is a long enough stretch for many business owners and that one in every three plans to sell, many of them right from the outset.  With fewer cases of a business being passed on to future generations, selling has become a fact of independent business life.  No matter at what stage your own business life may be, prepare now to stay ahead in the selling game.

Perhaps one of the most important rules of the selling game is learning how not to “sell.”  An apt anecdote from Cary Reich’s The Life of Nelson Rockefeller shows a pro at work doing (or not doing) just that:

When the indomitable J.P. Morgan was seeking the Rockefeller’s Mesabi iron ore properties to complete his assemblage of what was to become U.S. Steel, it was Junior [John D. Rockefeller, Jr.] who went head-to-head with the financier.  “Well, what’s your price?” Morgan demanded, to which Junior coolly replied, “I think there must be some mistake.  I did not come here to sell.  I understand you wished to buy.”  Morgan ended up with the properties, but at a steep cost.

As this anecdote shows, the best approach to succeeding at the selling game is to be less of a “seller” and more of a “player.”  Take a look at these tips for keeping the score in your favor:

Let Others Do the Heavy Pitching

Selling a business is an intense emotional drain; at best, a distraction.  Let professional advisors do the yeoman’s duty when selling a business.  A business intermediary represents the seller and is experienced in completing the transaction in a timely manner and at a price and terms acceptable to the seller.  Your business broker will also present and assess offers, and help in structuring the transaction itself.  If you plan to use an attorney, engage one who is seasoned in the business selling process.  A former Harvard Business Review associate editor once said, “Inexperienced lawyers are often reluctant to advise their clients to take any risks, whereas lawyers who have been through such negotiations a few times know what’s reasonable.”

Stay in the Game

With the right advisors on your side, you can do the all-important work of tending to the daily life of the business.  There is a tendency for sellers to let things slip once the business is officially for sale.  Keeping normal operating hours, maintaining inventory at constant levels, and attention to the appearance and general good repair of the premises are ways to make the right impression on prospective buyers.  Most important of all, tending to the daily running of the business will help ward off deterioration of sales and earnings.

Keep Pricing and Evaluation in the Ballpark

Like all sellers, you will want the best possible price for your business.  You have probably spent years building it and have dreamed about its worth, based on your “sweat equity.”  You’ll need to keep in mind that the marketplace will determine the value of the business.  Ignoring that standard by asking too high a price will drive prospective buyers away, or will at the least slow the process, and perhaps to a standstill.

Play Fair with Confidentiality

Your business broker will constantly stress confidentiality to the prospects to whom he or she shows your business.  They will use nonspecific descriptions of the business, require signatures on strict confidentiality agreements, screen all prospects, and sometimes phase the release of information to match the growing evidence of buyer sincerity.  As the seller you must also maintain confidentiality in your day-to-day business activities, never forgetting that a breach of confidentiality can wreck the deal.

Sell Before Striking Out

Don’t wait until you are forced to sell for any reason, whether financial or personal.  Instead of selling impulsively, you should plan ahead carefully by cleaning up the balance sheet, settling any litigation, providing a list of loans against the business with amounts and payment schedule, tackling any environmental problems, and by gathering in one place all pertinent paperwork, such as franchise agreement (if applicable), the lease and any lease-related documents, and an approximation of inventory on-hand.  In addition, you could increase the value of your business by up to 20 percent by providing audited financial statements for one or two years in advance of selling.

Think Twice Before Retiring Your “Number”

The trend is for sellers to assume they will retire after selling the business.  But consider this: agreeing to stay on in some capacity can actually help you get a better price for your business.  Many buyers will pay more to have the seller stay aboard, thus helping to reduce their risk.

Keep the Ball Rolling

You need to keep the negotiation ball rolling once an offer has been presented.  Even if you don’t get your asking price, the offer may have other points that will offset that disappointment, such as higher payments or interest, a consulting agreement, more cash than you anticipated, or a buyer who seems “just right.”  The right buyer may be better than a higher price, especially if there is seller financing involved, and there usually is.  In many cases, the structure of the deal is more important than the price.  And when the ball is rolling, allow it to pick up speed.  Deals that drag are too often deals that fail to close.

By following these tips, and by working closely with your business broker, you can have confidence in being a seller who, like John D. Rockefeller, Jr., doesn’t “come here to sell.”  You will play the selling game–and be a winner.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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What Do Buyers Want in a Company?

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Selling your business doesn’t have to feel like online dating, but for many sellers this is exactly what it can feel like.  Many sellers are left wondering, “What exactly do buyers want to see in order to buy my company?”  Working with a business broker is an excellent way to take some of the mystery out of this often elusive equation.  In general, there are three areas that buyers should give particular attention to in order to make their businesses more attractive to sellers.

Area #1 – The Quality of Earnings

The bottom line, no pun intended, is that many accountants and intermediaries can be rather aggressive when it comes to adding back one-time or non-recurring expenses.  Obviously, this can cause headaches for sellers.  Here are a few examples of non-recurring expenses: a building undergoing foundation repairs, expenses related to meeting new government guidelines or legal fees involving a lawsuit or actually paying for a major lawsuit.

Buyers will want to emphasize that a non-recurring expense is just that, a one-time expense that will not recur, and are not in fact, a drain on the actual, real earnings of a company.  The simple fact is that virtually every business has some level of non-recurring expenses each and every year; this is just the nature of business.  However, by adding back these one-time expenses, an accountant or business appraiser can greatly complicate a deal as he or she is not allowing for extraordinary expenses that occur almost every year.  Add-backs can work to inflate the earnings and lead to a failure to reflect the real earning power of the business.

Area #2 – Buyers Want to See Sustainability of Earnings

It is only understandable that any new owner will be concerned that the business in question will have sustainable earnings after the purchase.  No one wants to buy a business only to see it fail due to a lack of earnings a short time later or buy a business that is at the height of its earnings or buy a business whose earnings are the result of a one-time contract.  Sellers can expect that buyers will carefully examine whether or not a business will grow in the same rate, or a faster rate, than it has in the past.

Area #3 – Buyers Will Verify Information

Finally, sellers can expect that buyers will want to verify that all information provided is accurate.  No buyer wants an unexpected surprise after they have purchased a business.  Sellers should expect buyers to dig deep in an effort to ensure that there are no skeletons hiding in the closet. Whether its potential litigation issues or potential product returns or a range of other potential issues, you can be certain that serious buyers will carefully evaluate your business and verify all the information you’ve provided.

By stepping back and putting yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer, you can go a long way towards helping ensure that the deal is finalized.  Further, working with an experienced business broker is another way to help ensure that you anticipate what a buyer will want to see well in advance.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Strong Selling Points: Let Your Strengths Work for You

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“Independent business owner” is a phrase with two meanings.  Of course, it means being the owner of an independent business.  But another way to look at “independent business owner” is to let this phrase define the very personality of the person at the helm.  Independent.  Confident. Self-assured.  Strong-willed.  These are vital entrepreneurial attributes, but, ironically, they can sometimes work against the business owner when it comes time to sell.

Since business owners are the type who know about selling — either products or services– and about making deals — haven’t they had to cope with suppliers, customers, and competitors throughout their business careers? — it’s not surprising that owners approach selling their businesses with these tried-and-true tactics and ideas.  Sellers who have spent years building a business are often unaware of how completely different the process of selling a business is.

Savvy sellers, realizing the importance of a selling approach equal to this very important task, will depend on the guidance of a business intermediary.  With professional guidance, sellers can benefit from their personal strengths instead of letting them get in the way of the selling process.  The following “strong” selling points are signposts on the road leading to a successful transaction.

Price Your Business To Sell

Sellers are good “business people;” they naturally are after the best possible price for their business.  Realistic pricing is perhaps the most important factor in selling from a point of strength.  Understanding the marketplace, up-to-the-minute and not some high mark just past or in the possible future, is key.

The pricing of a business, different from the simpler means of valuing based on goods or services, depends on industry-tested valuation techniques, with intangibles incorporated to ensure that the business will not be underpriced.  The price of a business is arrived at by a variety of factors, one of the chief of which is the intensity of a buyers interest in a particular business.

Know Your Buyer

The seller, although good at “psyching out” customers and vendors, may not be as adept at sizing up potential buyers.  Some buyers are professional window-shoppers; talking a good game but never really ready to play. There are also the buyers who would play ball — if they only knew where the action was!  First locating and then qualifying buyers is a key function of business brokers.  They will use computerized data bases, professional associations and other networks nationally and internationally — all to increase the chances of selling a business at top value.

In addition, the business broker will determine the right buyer for the right business, focusing on those prospects who are financially qualified as well as genuinely (or potentially) interested in the business for sale.  As part of qualifying buyers, to take the “fear” out of the likely need for seller financing, the business broker will assess the ability of a particular buyer to run a business successfully.  This invaluable work by the broker not only locates the best buyers, it also frees the seller to concentrate on his role in the selling process.

Prepare Your Business for Sale

In addition to the obvious need for the business to appear clean and cared-for, there are important steps the seller must take in advance of putting the business on the market.  In most cases, a business will sell based on the numbers.  Your business broker will help you create a clear financial picture — in timely fashion — and to prepare statements suitable for presentation to a prospective buyer.  Remember that buyers may be willing to buy potential, but they don’t want to pay for it.  In fact, sellers should be open to about all aspects of the business that might affect the sale; otherwise, once the real facts are revealed, the deal may self-destruct.

Business owners are accustomed to coping with paperwork, but few have had exposure to the specialized contracts and forms required both before and during the selling process.  The business broker, an expert at transaction details, will help guard against delays, problems, and premature (or inappropriate) disclosure of information.

Maintain Normal Operations

Another vital activity for the seller is to keep on top of the day-to-day running of the business.  When a business intermediary is on hand to focus on the marketing of the business, the seller can focus on keeping daily operations on-target.  Sellers are “people people,” and may have visions of wooing buyers with their great presentation of the business.  Even if this were to happen, these sellers fail to visualize the number of buyers they would have to “woo-and-win” if handling the sale on their own.

Confidentiality

An adjunct to maintaining the status quo is the important task of maintaining confidentiality.  Until a purchase-and-sale agreement has been signed, most sellers do not want to disturb (or jeopardize) the normal interaction with customers and employees; nor do they want to alert the competition.  A business broker helps by using nonspecific descriptions of the business, requiring signed confidentiality agreements, and performing a careful screening of all prospects.

To keep the sale of your business on firm ground, be sure that your “strengths” as an independent business owner aren’t actually weakening the sale.  Using these key selling points along with the expertise of a business intermediary will keep the process going strong.

 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Considerations When Selling…Or Buying

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Important questions to ask when looking at a business…or preparing to have your business looked at by prospective buyers.

• What’s for sale?  What’s not for sale?  Does it include real estate? Are some of the machines leased instead of owned?

• What assets are not earning money? Perhaps these assets should be sold off.

• What is proprietary? Formulations, patents, software, etc.?

• What is their competitive advantage? A certain niche, superior marketing or better manufacturing.

• What is the barrier of entry? Capital, low labor, tight relationships.

• What about employment agreements/non-competes? Has the seller failed to secure these agreements from key employees?

• How does one grow the business? Maybe it can’t be grown.

• How much working capital does one need to run the business?

• What is the depth of management and how dependent is the business on the owner/manager?

• How is the financial reporting undertaken and recorded and how does management adjust the business accordingly?

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Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.