WHERE DO I START?
Okay, you’ve decided it’s time to sell your business and you’re now wondering what you do next and how you start this process rolling. Here’s a quick primer on selling your company.
CHOOSE YOUR SELLING PARTNER WISELY.
First step, find a selling partner. This is the person who will work with you to find a buyer and broker a deal. There are all kinds of people willing to take some of your money in order to attempt to help you find a buyer. Make sure you choose someone:
with actual executive business experience
with actual merger, acquisition and divestiture experience in both large and small transactions
who is a registered and licensed business broker. Make sure you choose someone who has experience in business valuations
you trust to maintain complete confidentiality
who will develop and sign off on a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with you and with any prospective buyers
CREATE SEVERAL VALUATION MODELS.
Chances are good that you have an idea of the value of your business, or more likely, what you would like to receive for your company, but do you have actual experience in business valuations? Probably not, so make sure you choose someone who does know how to create several different valuation models because buyers have their own idea of what your business is worth to them. There is no magic formula for selling your business, but you at least want some large scale perspective. You want to know that your idea of pricing is not somewhere out on planet Mars when buyers are looking for realistic pricing on planet Earth. Your selling partner needs to be honest and realistic with you.
CREATE A BUSINESS SALE PROSPECTUS.
What’s this you might ask yourself? A Business Sale Prospectus is a large scale overview of every aspect of your company and your industry. It involves details on your specific location, geographical impact, financials, marketing plans, organizational charts and issues, assets, liabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and a whole host of other things. It becomes an essential tool that is used to market and sell your business. It becomes a marketing piece that serves to tell prospective buyers why they should be interested in buying your company. You want someone who knows how to do this!
WHAT WILL A PROSPECTIVE BUYER NEED TO SEE?
There’s a great question, but first things first – you and the buyer will need to have an official Letter of Intent drawn up. Once that happens the buyer will want to have a period of due diligence. The answer to the above question is – during their due diligence period (a time frame negotiated between seller and buyer, normally not to exceed a couple of months) they will want to see everything! Buyers will want to:
see all your financials for at least the prior three years
- see your projections for the next three years
- see your balance sheet
- see your organization chart and get a primer on who’s who and what they all do – and what they get paid for what they do
- know a lot about your customer base, how you secure them as customers, and if you have contracts with your customers
- know your marketing plan, your advertising plan, your social media plan, your sales plan – and how much each of those plans is costing, and the measurable results from each of those plans
- see your operational plans, scope of activity, quality assurance programs, claims history, insurance payouts if any, ratings by Yelp, Google and others, and a host of other day to day practices and problems
So get ready to assemble a lot of details and data beforehand. It will all expedite the assembly and completion of the Prospectus.
THE SEARCH FOR BUYERS.
Where do you start? You likely have so many questions. Things like:
Is it a local search or a national search?
What kind of buyer are you looking for?
How do I qualify prospective buyers?
Who does the search?
I’ve heard other people mention things like an asset sale or a stock sale. What do these words mean and what is best for me in my situation?
Will I need to stay on as an employee or consultant after the sale?
What happens to my employees after the sale? Can I do something to protect them after the sale?
How do you develop a game plan?
How long does this process take?
How do I ensure confidentiality while trying to sell my business?
Will I have to agree to any kind of non-competition agreement as part of the sale, and if so what will that entail?
How much do I have to pay for this service?
How and when will I get my money after I reach an agreement with a buyer?
Jim Bender and Bottom Line Solutions LLC can help answer all of your questions, and be a valuable partner for you as you go down the path of selling your business!
YOUR ROLE IN THE SELLING PROCESS.
Your first role is to work with your selling partner with complete honesty. Make sure you provide accurate information. If you’re not sure of something then make sure you voice those concerns. Make sure your accounting firm is up to speed on the process and inform them to help provide accurate data as needed. Prospective buyers will want access to you personally. They will want to deal with you because in the end you are the final decision maker in terms of price and terms.
Your selling partner helps you get to this point and your selling partner can work with you and your buyer to iron out questions or differences and to serve as a sounding board for both parties; but – in the end your selling partner works for you and you alone, and therefore your interests and demands take primary importance. Negotiations may take longer than you think, so be prepared to stay flexible with your demands. You and you alone will be making the final decisions – because it’s your business!
WHY CHOOSE BOTTOM LINE SOLUTIONS?
I have seen first-hand the pitfalls of poor planning, inadequate experience, and overzealous buyers and sellers.