In part-one of this article, I mentioned how purchasers will prefer to buy a business where everything looks good and there are no apparent problems. Smart and neat operations will attract serious buyers; however, this is only one part that is needed to achieve your selling objectives.
There should be no hidden problems or secrets which can jeopardize the purchase. Any undesirable factor not disclosed to the purchaser can lead to a non-sale, or at the very least, something they can use as a negotiating tool. The fact that a deal has fallen apart, is not only frustrating, but will cost you money, time, and distraction from your business.
An owner who unknowingly discloses secrets or situations in their business can end up becoming a deal breaker. Issues which are known need to be dealt with to have the best chance of a good sale. Since there may be issues which are unknown the best answer to this is to search for the problems in advance and take care of them. Think of this the same way you would treat the sale of your home. You would normally fix up, repaint, and clean up before you put the home on the market. You should do the same thing with your business.
Not only would you want your physical location to be clean and tidy, but this also flows over to the other parts of your business, such as accounting, financing, marketing material, department procedure manuals, and an array of other business items. Prepared written policies and procedures are a great selling point for a prospective buyer. Remember, when someone is interested in your business, it’s their team that inspects every aspect of your business in doing their due diligence. This is a micro inspection of all aspects of your business, so it will pay to make sure there isn’t a bunch of dirty secrets hanging around.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND PHYSICAL APPEAL
The first time a prospective buyer visits your company they make value judgements. They will observe everything from your reception area to your signage in and on the building. If the impression they get is positive, they will want to investigate your company more. You don’t want to lose their interest based on visual appeal of your business. No matter how good your business seems to do on paper, the prospective buyer may lose interest based on your first impressions.
This observation doesn’t end with just the building. Your premises, marketing literature, dress attire of you employees, uniforms, office settings, rubbish areas and a host of other areas should be updated and tidy. Continue reading “The Final Act! The Day Will Come! Part 2”
Because of the Tax Cut and Job Acts of 2017, the marginal rates are lower. The impact of the recent tax cut is very straight forward. Lowering the rate, means a higher after-tax cash flow which translates into higher value for businesses.
Business owners know their business better than anyone. That being said, you would also assume they would know the value of the businesses? Not so fast!
Knowing your business and knowing what you think it is worth in reality can be two separate issues. If it were that simple, appraisers would not be needed, but they are, and they play very key role. They arrive at a fair market value after taking many facts into consideration.
Valuations; “The Walk Way Number”
The “country club” concept of a business owner having a number in his/her head as to what they would take, if offered, offers some interesting conversations during happy hour!
Over the years I have spoken to business owners, and periodically I have been told that the owner has a figure in their head, and if they were offered that figure for their business, they would take it! They seem to know their business better than anyone, so it is reasonable to believe they have a handle on the value of their company. In more cases than not, that figure would allow the owner to go and do what they want in life as it would give them the capital needed, and the can walk away from the business.
However, there are some different sides to this concept! A more logical way of knowing the business value!
Continue reading “Business Valuation After The 2017 Tax Cut And Jobs Act”
The present value of the cash flow is a way of pricing out your company. A high certainty that the company will produce steady, predictable cash flow. Cash flow is king! Predictability only creates more value.
A buyer is willing to pay your price if you have a plethora of tangible and intangible assets and systems that function like a Swiss watch.
A “Swiss Watch” of a company needs to produce the consistent cash flow without you. As an owner you want to sell your business and move on. In many cases, a purchaser may want the owner to stay on and run the company for a period of time. However, if your company is able to produce a cash flow without you, it not only allows you to get your price, but allows you to get out of dodge.
It is worth your while to put together a talented management team, that can not only keep the cash flow consistent, but has the ability to keep the cash flow machine working even if you are not there. Your key management team may be the most important element of your business.
Whether buyers are strategic buyers, or financial buyers, they will be looking for value drivers. From the beginning of your business ownership, these are the things you need to start working on.
- Key management group
- Loyal client base with diversification (most of your firms revenue should come from more than 10% of the clients)
- Efficient production and manufacturing facilities
- Leading edge products or services
- Supplier network
- Intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, trade name)
- Steady, predictable solid profits and cash flow
- Proven growth record
- Effective workforce in place
- Transferable franchise or license
- Key location or territory
- Barriers to entry for a startup
- Research and product development team
- Company name
- Exclusive territory
- Above industry average financial ratios
- Systematized business processes/documented so continuing success is not dependent on any particular person (including the owner)
These are the areas of your business you need to develop and maximize in order to demonstrate the potential for steady predictable growth in the future.
Since the price you will be asking for your business is relevant to your successful retirement (to fill the retirement gap), you will want to spend the time in the areas which will increase the value of your business. Usually, they will be Industry-Specific Business Benchmarks.
Knowing how your competitors are using their resources and the efficiency which they are utilizing them can give you ideas about the strategies being used, and strategies you can compare to your methods. If you are utilizing your resources better than your competitions, you will be able to negotiate a better price for your business.
One important issue an owner can spend their time on, is getting the right people to fill the right positions in their company, while removing the wrong people from positions.
Situations are always changing and can change the dynamics of the business. For example; the retirement of a key owner or other key employee, the unexpected loss of a key person due to death or disability can pose a significant financial hit to any company. Planning can reduce the adverse impact.
Continuity of leadership is important. Having a backup for the key positions would be ideal. Sometimes you don’t have the personnel to accomplish this. A company training program can be a valuable tool for the long-term growth of the company. Cross training is worth the time. Having personnel filling in for important jobs when needed is a valuable element for the business growth.
Trader Joe ‘s is a very good company and a great example of a company with interchangeable job descriptions. Employees learn multiple jobs and task. They rotate their jobs every few hours on the employee’s shift. They create teams, with captains and the team helps with on the job training for the e different jobs. Their education is ongoing. Trader Joe’s has a bench ready to go. This is also done with their management team. Their candidates are always being educated to move up the line and into the position.
Board of Directors
Having an active Board of Directors can help with guidance in implementing employee growth. This is next level management. This is a value driver which is of importance to the growth and value of the company. It is what a potential purchaser looks for in a company that they may be interesting in purchasing.
The board helps provide management continuity and immediate oversight in triggering events, such as divorce, death, disability, or withdrawal. The board can be made up of key insiders and some outsiders who have insight to your business, but not necessarily in your business or industry. Continue reading “Building Your Leadership Team And Going Deep!”
I read somewhere that over the next number of years, at least one in every four small businesses will be sued or threatened with a lawsuit. The odds are great that it will come from within the company.
Will your death, disability, or withdrawal cause a dispute? In many cases it can come from not having communicated the exit or transition plan for the company.
Your Corporate Board of Directors
The Board of directors in your company is crucial to the short and long-term success of the company. The board helps in the avoidance and resolution of disputes. The board can help direct the company’s planning, officer selection and the compensation. The board can help in dispute avoidance, dispute resolution and overall corporate management.
Disputes, can come from compensation agreements, benefits, health co-pays, benefits paid. These are many other ares which a dispute can occur. The hope is that there is a board of directors to help with the resolution.
When the owner dies, becomes disabled or just wants out of their business, and there is no business continuation or a buy and sell, the risk of a dispute rises. A buy and sell agreement will establish the rules in the event a trigger that sets off a change within the business. Remaining partners will need to know what the value of the company stock will be sold for. The surviving family will need to know what the value of the business is and what the family expects to do with the company values. Without a solid written plan, there are unanswered questions and confusion. Continue reading “Your Exit From Your Company!”
What is it that you think about the most as a business owner? Chances are they are one of four things:
- What if I don’t want to stay in business and I want to drop out?
- What if I get sick, disabled, or die?
- What if my key person (s) decides to leave me?
- What if I can’t increase and improve my cash flow (life blood of the business), or the economy crashes?
Besides running the day to day of the business, and the stress that goes with this, the four items listed above are probably the biggest stressful thoughts business owners have. Let’s break them down.
Why the typical business owner thinks about these issues, is because they know they put a lot of sweat, tears, money, time into their business. They have most of their wealth in the business, and know that they have no way of extracting that wealth when these events happen!
What if I don’t’ want to do this any longer and just want to drop out?
Think about it! The business owner has most of their wealth and time tied into this business. In most cases it is very difficult to just stop doing what they are doing, lock the front door and leave the responsibility, wealth and reputation behind. They still need their wealth in the business to maintain their life style.
Business owners are human beings and sometimes they just get tired of doing what they are doing, they burn out. Sometimes they feel they are trapped and living a life of desperation. They are making a nice living, and seeking to make a great life for themselves and their families. Chances are when they started the business they were only looking for a place to go, a position, a paycheck, and with a little luck a dream. The stress of running a business can take its toll on the businessman and the family.
They need the wealth they have invested, but don’t have a way of selling the business at a reasonable price. Can the business be sold to an outsider? Or, is there someone inside the company who will buy the business? If so, do they have the money? Is there someone who would run the business while the owner keeps their hands in the business? Or, do they liquidate it? Many times, even if a business owner sells their business, they find that after the taxes and expenses there’s not enough capital at a guaranteed rate of return to produce the income needed to keep the business owner and their family in the lifestyle they been used to. Because of this factor, more stress is added to the business owner and their future income. Continue reading “The Four Life Changes Of A Business Owner!”