Written by James Bailey, Partner.
To achieve a successful sale, maximise value and minimise the risk of a failed transaction, founders and shareholders should have a clear plan. Below, I’ll cover some initial areas to consider and will follow up with more detailed considerations for sale preparation in a subsequent article.
1. Be clear on your objectives
Being really clear on your objectives is an important first step when preparing to sell your business. Consider whether your objectives are purely financial, personal, and the role that creating a legacy plays in your decision. Maximising value is a simple goal but how important is who the acquirer is and their likely approach to your ‘baby’ when they have the keys?
Having a set of realistic goals will increase the likelihood of achieving your objectives. Clear objectives should also allow you to keep sight of the reasons for selling your business and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
2. Start early
My key piece of advice is that it is never too early to start preparing for sale. There will be areas you need to work on in your business and the earlier you identify these, the better. If you leave making significant changes until just prior to sale, a prospective buyer may well see these as cosmetic and purely for sale purposes.
This is your one opportunity to crystallise the value that you have created over many years. You simply cannot start too early in readying for sale.
3. Consider your business profile and brand
Consider how your business looks to the external market and its reputation. How your ‘brand’ is perceived will have a significant impact on who may purchase your company and value they place on it.
Branding/profile is about creating a reputation, credibility, longevity and market positioning for your company. It encompasses everything you do and say as a business. It can be a simple as your website – which is very likely to be the first port of call for many potential suitors through to your attendance at trade shows and the profile you generate through industry awards. Whilst all of these might feel quite tactical, they all add to your credibility and visibility.
4. Think about the trajectory of your business
Your business trajectory (both financially and commercially) can be one of the most valuable (or destructive) factors available to you when you decide to sell.
Buyers will be not only looking at your business today, but its future prospects. When growing and scaling your business, one of the most important decisions you make is about the path you’re taking to get where you want to be. Your business trajectory starts with a clear goal, then defines the most direct path to achieve that goal.
The trajectory of your business can be evidenced in a variety of ways whether it is customer acquisition rates or increases in profit or revenue. You need to show potential buyers’ momentum and showcase a well thought-out and invested business. Buyers will have their own views on what they might do with your business but they will place a premium on a target that has its own clarity of vision and momentum.
One of the most significant challenges that business owners and shareholders face is laying the groundwork for a successful sale of the business. The challenge involves understanding what to work on to prepare your business for sale and when to work on those key areas. You will sell once and it’s impossible to overstate the importance of being ready.
Planning is key to the successful outcome of any sale process. Ineffective pre-sale planning will result in lost value for shareholders and worse still a failed sale process.
Selling your business is often a once-in-a-lifetime event and you need to get it right. A key component to effective preparation and a successful sale is allowing sufficient time to prepare and having the right advisors on board to support you.
Contact us today if you require help and advice on preparing your business for sale.