Thursday, June 7, 2007

Profit magazine: Maximizing the value of your business

Are you doing the best things to maximize the value of your business and prepare it for sale?

Have you made sure that your succession-ownership transfer structure is tax-effective by discussing this with your accountant?

With the help of your realtor, have you identified potential buyers and a sent them a sales prospectus with enough information to elicit interest but no so detailed as to identify your business (and so turn off potential customers if word gets out your business is for sale?)

To attract interested buyers, along with a description of your business, does your sales prospectus list key financial figures such as profit, cashflow, value of assets and total debts, and compare these figures to previous years and any unique aspects such as market leader in a product?

If you are deeding your business to your family in your will, are you setting up a battle royale by not telling them, or have you all sat down together to talk about the arrangement and what works best for all parties (including a buy-out instead of a share in the business?)

Are you choosing a time to exit when the business is doing well and the market conditions are advantageous, or are you leaving when your hand is being forced and you may not realize all the value in your company?

Have you prepared a realistic three- to five-year business plan that will appeal to a potential buyer but is wholly truthful as well?

To appeal to buyers, have you ensured that when you leave that all of your expertise doesn’t walk out the door with you, by training and delegating your roles to others and helping to development the requisite management skills in-house?

Given that the succession planning process generally takes 12 to 18 months, with an orderly transition taking as long as three to five years, have you placed your own succession on the back-burner under the mistaken impression you can quickly take care of it later?

With the help of a succession professional who understands your business sector, have you formalized your succession plan by detailing through a document with whom, what, how and when the transition occurs?

Do you have a contingency plan in the event that something happens to the purchaser or that he or she doesn’t work out?

Have you determined a business valuation that establishes a realistic and fair dollar number business, based on assets, earnings, intellectual property, marketplace position and reputation?

Given the emotion that’s often involved and to help yourself to be clear on the sale, can you articulate why you’re selling the business: desire for personal liquidity; need of expansion capital; anxiety caused by personal liability and unreasonable risks; age and health; or simply need for a change?

Since the use of professional services is usually essential to the successful sale of a small business, have you consulted a lawyer, insurance broker, accountant and banker for advice and help?

Have you thought like a potential buyer and done the staging necessary to maximize the value of your business: increasing sales, reducing expenses and debt, cleaning up the property and other steps to increase the “curb appeal”?

Have you examined the possibility without emotional bias that your business may be worth more in pieces - assets, real estate, customer base- than sold as a whole?

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