While entrepreneurs have a passion for ideas and seeing those ideas to fruition, often the driving goal is the big payout—positioning the company to sell at the right time to optimize the company’s value. Getting your company to that point of its most saleable value is a big deal, and it takes some significant steps to get there.
Business consultant and author Michael Cooper has worked with many entrepreneurs, and outlines these key factors to consider when positioning and preparing for an acquisition. We share them in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
1. Start preparing for sale years in advance. Quick sales tend to generate lower sales prices, so planning ahead will help you make your business more attractive and more lucrative. While acquisitions can sometimes happen very quickly, most buyers want to do due diligence, and it can take months for the entire process to close.
2. Clean up your act. Just like you’d clean up a house and make it the most attractive for a buyer, do the same for your business. Make sure your books are organized and your systems are up to date. Take care of any physical upgrades or maintenance related to your office or facilities. Build strong teams and shed any problems. And if you haven’t done so already, start tracking key metrics so that you can easily communicate your company’s performance levels.
3. Reflect on the past two years. What changes, trends or differences has the business experienced? Are your sales trending up or down? What is your customer-retention rate? The more you can showcase the predictable growth of your company, the better value story you project to the potential buyers.
4. Determine what you’re really selling. There are several ways to value a company. Are you selling your customer list? Your brand name? Perhaps you are selling your manufacturing process. If your company has multiple segments, such as distribution, design and consulting, perhaps your focus is only on the most profitable pillar. What is most valuable to the buyer and the buyer’s market? Focus on that and make it as attractive as possible.
5. Look for strategic fit in a buyer. What is your company particularly good at? What does it need from a buyer? What is the best environment for your team that will yield top performance and best results? Does your buyer have a vision similar to the one on which the company has been built? A poor fit between company and buyer can drain resources, time and morale. If people are unhappy, they will walk out the door. Be willing to walk away from a buyer who seems like a poor fit.
Once you have a buyer, then what? Learn more in tomorrow’s PCT.
Source: Michael O. Cooper equips right-brain entrepreneurs, creative professionals and agencies with the business mindset, strategies and skills to thrive in a constantly changing environment. He is the founder of InnovatorsandInfluencers.com and serves as executive coach, facilitator and trainer for design, software, public relations and communications firms, as well as TED Fellows.