Keys to Improving the Value of Your Company

The first key is to have your accountant take a look at your accounting procedures and make recommendations on how to improve them. He or she may also help in preparing financial projections for the coming year(s). Getting your company’s financial house in order is very important in establishing the value of your firm.

The second key is to review the reputation, image, and marketing materials of your company. Certainly, the quality of your product or service is paramount, but how your firm presents itself to customers, clients, suppliers, etc. – and the outside world – is also very important. The appearance of your facilities and customer services – beginning with how people are treated on the telephone or in the waiting/reception area – are the kind of first impressions that are critical in dealing with your customers or clients. Don’t forget about the company’s Web site; in many cases, it is the initial introduction to your company. Now may also be the time to update your marketing materials. The image of a company can help create a happy workforce, improve customer service, and impress those that you deal with – all of which can increase the value.

A third key is to get rid of outdated inventory – sell off any extra assets such as unused or outmoded equipment. The proceeds can be used in the business. If there are any assets that should not be included in the value of the company, such as personal vehicles or real estate, you might want to separate them from the assets of the company. This is especially important if you are considering placing the company on the market. A prospective purchaser expects everything they see to be included in the sale. If a portrait of your grandfather is your personal property, delete it from any list of company furniture, fixtures, and equipment; and if the business is for sale, remove it entirely.

Another important key is to resolve any pending items. For example, if the company has a trademark on any of the important products, and the paperwork for registering is sitting on someone’s desk, now is the time to complete the filing. Trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc., can be very valuable, but only if they have been properly recorded and/or filed.

Contracts, agreements, leases, franchise agreements, and the like should be reviewed. If they need to be extended, take the appropriate action. A contract with a customer has value and if it is scheduled to expire soon, why not get it renewed now? The same is true for leases. Favorable leases for a long period of time can be a valuable asset. Do your key employees have employee agreements?

The key factors outlined above not only build value, but they also increase the bottom line. If you are considering selling your company at some point, these key issues will come back many-fold in the selling price. A professional business intermediary can help with other factors that can influence the value of the business.

One other hidden benefit of building the value of your company is that you never know when the Fortune 500 Company will come “knocking at your door” with an offer that you can’t refuse. At that point, it’s probably too late to work on some of the issues mentioned above.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Rise of Women Business Owners

The National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO) identifies trends relating to the small business climate for women. New studies examining the role of female entrepreneurs by the NFWBO have yielded some surprising and eye-opening results.

A joint IBM, NFWBO study of the top fifty women business owners as well as 10 additional “up-and-coming” business owners reached several interesting conclusions. The women in the study covered a diverse array of industry categories including 27% in manufacturing, 25% in retail and 10% in real estate. 46% of the women inherited a business and over 50% started their own businesses, with 34% starting businesses themselves and another 17% starting businesses with others.

A Preference for Flexibility

One key part of the study centered on the fact that women business owners, in general, appear to prefer smaller operations. Among the 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., a full 75% are one person operations. Through ownership of these businesses women achieve a high level of flexibility in their work schedules. It is believed that this flexibility improves the odds of women keeping their home lives satisfying and rewarding.

Overall, millions of women are ignoring the notion that small businesses do not equate with success. While NFWBO research indicates that fewer than 1% of small women owned businesses generate over a $1 million in sales, there is no doubt that women are showing their strength in numbers.

Tackling Loan Issues

One major obstacle women business owners have faced comes in the form of bank loan inequities. Recently, for the first-time women owned business are experiencing access to business loans on par with male owners; this may be due in part to the increasing number of women in high bank positions as well as banks now seeing the previously untapped potential of women-owned businesses. The NFWBO has also discovered that women tend to direct loans towards business growth.

Internationally Owned Businesses

On an international scale, the NFWBO studies have shown that women business owners often come from similar backgrounds and express the same concerns regarding business issues. Today, female business owners represent between one-quarter and one-third of the world’s independent business owners and have become increasingly vocal as evidenced by female participation at an international conference in Paris sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

A Trend Towards Progress

To date, many obstacles have been overcome. Simply stated, the future looks very bright for women-owned businesses around the globe.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Tremendous Importance of Simply Saying, “Hello!”

Far too many customers have grown to expect poor customer service. Whether its rude employees and customer support or impersonal robotic phone system responses, customers are often shocked when they receive pleasant customer service. In such a climate, it is clear that businesses that simply treat customers well are taking advantage of a huge opportunity.

If you’ve ever personally called a credit card or cable company looking for help, then you already know that it can be something of a depressing and even Kafkaesque experience, leaving you feeling drained. More than likely you don’t feel too positive about any automated experience that bounces you around from one hold menu to the next. Summed up another way, hold music is never a fun or rewarding experience.

Communication is Always Changing

In the “old days” a telephone call was often a customer’s first experience with a business. Now, the game has, of course, changed, with most customers first experience being via the business’s website. While we can’t predict with 100% accuracy how businesses with be communicating with their customers in the future, we do know one fact for certain. The human touch will likely be valued for a long time to come.

Your Website is a Valuable Tool

The initial point of communication with a client, whether it is via telephone or your website, is of critical importance. If a customer has trouble finding key information about your business, such as your location, hours of operation or an easy to understand menu of what goods or services are offered, then they will take their business elsewhere. Consumers don’t generally wait for businesses to get their “act together.” They simply move on.

Simply stated, you want your business’s website to be very user-friendly, streamlined and intuitive as possible. Keep in mind that you understand your business and what it offers, which means you may not be the best judge in spotting flaws in your website presentation. For this reason, it is best to test your website designs with many different potential users who have little or no information about your business and what goods and services you provide.

In the end, every single client is valuable. For every client you lose represents both a potential loss of revenue and revenue being placed in the pocket of your competitor. Don’t let customers slip away simply because there wasn’t a friendly voice answering the phone or your website lacked clarity.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Three Signs You May Be Experiencing Burnout

Burnout is a strange phenomenon in that often a business owner doesn’t know that he or she is experiencing it until it is too late. Owners who feel beleaguered and over stressed frequently want to sell their business and move on. However, buyers are not so eager to accept burnout as a believable reason for why an owner wants to sell.

It is the responsibility of every business owner to be on guard against potential burnout. After all, it is better to “cash in” than to burnout. In this article, we will examine a few of the key warning signs that you may be on the verge of burning out.

Sign 1: There is No Joy in Owning Your Business

Once upon a time, you were likely excited about your business. But if those days are long gone, then it might be time to move on. Owning a business is hard work and eventually it can take a toll. If you find each day to be boring, then it is probably time to sell, move on and start a new chapter in your life.

Sign 2: You Feel Exhausted

Just as feeling no joy is a potential sign of burnout, the same holds true for feeling exhausted. If you feel exhausted all the time, then it is unlikely that you can run your business effectively over the long haul. In short, it may be time to consider selling.

Keep in mind that if your business is doing well, growing and expanding, then there will be more demands on your time, not less. If you feel exhausted a large percentage of the time and your business is expanding and seems poised to expand even more rapidly in the future, then cashing in may be your best bet.

Sign 3: You Feel Overwhelmed Almost on a Daily Basis

Business owners who frequently feel overwhelmed are likely teetering on the edge of burnout; this can be particularly true for business owners who are operating a “one-man show.” Operating a small business, especially one where you are doing most of the work, can be both mentally and physically exhausting.

There is certainly something to be said for being proactive and tackling burn out before it tackles you. In this way, you’ll be able to sell your business on your own terms. The last thing you want is to try and sell your business after you no longer have the energy to keep sales going in the right direction.

Working with an experienced business broker is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get your business ready to sell. Don’t let burnout put the fate of your business in a vulnerable position.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Small Business

Proper Planning Can Mean Thousands of Dollars in Your Pocket

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Everyday small business owners (retailers) make drastic mistakes when selling their business and lose thousands of dollars in the process. All their hard work and long-term investment goes down the drain. As entrepreneurs, they had once dreamed of owning their own business and building it to success. They then plan to reap the rewards in the form of a successful business sale. Sounds like a great plan!

But, making the sale is not as easy as it may appear.

As an entrepreneur, I have built and sold six businesses including a car rental company, two mini-storage facilities, and three retail stores. Now as an international professional speaker and business consultant, I help other small business owners achieve this same success. Here are my five tips to help you avoid business sale pitfalls, disappointment and lost money.

Mistake 1: Not Planning Ahead or Waiting too Long to Sell

Waiting too long, or not planning in advance, can cause many business owners to miss their window of opportunity. It takes an average of two to four years to sell a small business. Therefore, long-term planning is key to any successful business sale. By keeping updated records, a detailed business history and sales portfolio on hand at all times, it will make your planning pay off. You just never know when that perfect buyer may walk into your business and make you an offer you just can’t refuse.

Succession planning is a major misstep by retailers. Even if you do not have a successor who is a relative, you are still thinking like a succession planner. The person “succeeding” you needs to be set up for success. If they see you have been planing and considering this for quite some time and that it’s not a quick “I’ve had enough” sale, your price will be much higher.

Add to that the confidence the buyer will have in a retail store purchase if they see there was a strategy for the sale and that it’s not driven our of desperation.

Mistake 2: Not Finding the Right Person to Represent Your Business

Finding the right broker and/or consultant to help you sell your business is crucial to your success. Often business owners go with the first person they meet just to list their business and get the process going. This can cost you time and money in the long run. Within a few months, you may see no results and have to go on the search all over again. Taking time to interview many brokers and looking at a realistic outcome of what is expected will get you started in the right direction.

I signed up with the first broker I spoke with. He seemed like the perfect person to sell my business. After all, he had a background in retail and that was my industry, he was friendly and best of all he came up with a BIG price tag. Unfortunately, it was too good to be true because he was asking too much. By raising the price he got me to sign the contract but never made the sale. After six wasted months without even a lead, I finally decided to move on. Learning from my mistake, I interviewed 12 more brokers before signing another contract.

The new broker had a more realistic approach and started to bring me leads within the first month.

Mistake 3: Thinking You Don’t Have to Promote or Market Yourself

Thinking a broker will do all the work in promoting your sale can be deadly. You are the best promoter for your business. Who knows your business better than you? No one is more motivated, passionate and knowledgeable about your business than you! A broker may be getting you some activity, but you continue to promote as well.

After becoming frustrated that leads were not developing, I realized that I had to be a promoter of my own business sale. But, the trick was to promote a sale without getting it out in my community, my customer base and my employees. How was I going to do that? Where do I find people that would be interested in purchasing my type of business?

After I brainstormed for ideas, I discovered a way to do this. Realizing that my sales associates might make the first contact with someone that was interested in opening a retail store — I went to the source. Again I asked myself the question, “What makes sales people take action?” Money! So I sat down and wrote a letter explaining why and how I wanted to sell my successful business. I offered a bonus to my sales associates to send me a buyer. Instantly the phone started ringing and more leads came in. Within a couple of weeks, I had created such hype that I had three different buyers working on buying the business at the same time.

Retail is a tough business — much tougher than people realize. And honestly, the number one reason someone is selling a retail store is that it is failing, not because it is successful. The more planning you put into your sale, the better the price you will be able to obtain. Keep in mind that they prospective buyer will be very suspect of your reason for selling Have your plan and strategy in place and this will eliminate any fears. Just like you started your business with a strong, sell it with a strong plan as well.

Mistake 4: Asking too Much or too Little for the Business

Setting a very high or unrealistic price tag on a business can lead to a dead end street. Expecting to get top dollar for a business that generates little or no profit is simply using bad business sense. Consider your industry, similar businesses, the economy and your marketplace when pricing your business to sell.

On the other hand, a business that does not generate profits may do well with a going-out-of-business sale. This type of sale can generate instant cash flow and quick turnover. Too many business owners that have not turned a profit, or have cash flow problems, miss this wonderful opportunity. Some reasons they miss out is due to lost energy and/or motivation or because they may not want to admit defeat or failure. Remember it is business — don’t worry about taking it personally. Look for the most valuable opportunities for your business.

Another mistake is to price the business too low. Often business owners will price their business low because they are burned out, suffer from an illness or did not get good advice. Do your homework first! Listen to brokers and consultants. Do research about other business sales before jumping in with both feet.

Mistake 5: Selling to the Wrong Person

Taking the first offer may not be a wise choice. This may not necessarily be your BEST offer. Selling your business for top dollar with little or no money down along with an extended contract may lead you to lose it all. Business sales often go bad after the new owner takes over. The new owner may lack business experience, have a closed mind or be a poor leader. The list goes on and on. A successful business owner makes it looks easy, but change that mix and disaster may strike. When this happens, the new owner ends up going out of business and leaves the previous owner holding an empty bag. It saddens me to see a business fail after years of success due to this lack of business sale judgment.

Evaluate your options and make the best selection for the long term. Ask yourself, is this the best person to buy and run my business? Or, can they quickly connect with my customer base and learn how to market effectively? When the business sale goes as planned, it creates a tremendous opportunity for both business owners and the success continues.

Debbie Allen is the author of Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters and Skyrocketing Sales. She has been featured in Entrepreneur, Selling Power and Sales & Marketing Excellence. 

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The Top 3 Unexpected Events CEO’s May Encounter During the Selling Process

When it comes time to sell a business, not everything goes as planned. Having Unexpected events when selling a company is not uncommon for  CEO’s and Business Owner’s. However, you may be one of the lucky ones. And find that selling your business is a streamlined process. But most CEO’s looking to sell a business find they can expect the unexpected. Let’s take a closer look. Here are some of the top surprises CEO’s experience.

Unexpected events when selling a company #1-

 Surprisingly Low Bids 

 

Selling a Business or Company is full of pitfall’s. Avoid mistakes and work with experienced advisers.

CEO’s looking to sell their businesses need to be ready for almost anything. One of the larger surprises that CEO’s face are surprisingly low bids. Don’t let low bids shock you. Read more here about how to increase value in your business. And get much higher bids. Click the link!

Unexpected events when selling a company #2 – 

A Huge Time Commitment

CEO’s have to a substantial amount of work to do before their company goes to market. Responsibilities like the confidential information memorandum and management presentations are highly important. They should be well thought out. Creating a list of potential acquirers also requires a lot of research. The confidential information memorandum is considered the cornerstone of the selling process. A CIM is typically at least 30 to 50 pages in length.

Most business intermediaries expect the potential acquirers to submit their initial price based on the information contained in the memorandum. Management presentations are also time consuming, but it is common to have these presentations ready before the final bids are submitted. Ideally it is best for the CEO to show the benefits involved in combining the acquirer and the seller as well as the future upside for selling the company.

Unexpected events when selling a company #3 –

The Need for Agreement from Other Stakeholders

CEO’s are able to negotiate the transaction, but the sale isn’t authorized until certain shareholders have agreed and done so in writing. Until the Board of Directors, shareholders and financial institutions who may hold liens on key assets, have agreed to the deal, the deal simply isn’t finalized. Often this legal necessity turns out to be an issue that gets in the way of a successful deal.

Sellers can take their “eye off the ball” during the time-consuming process of selling a company, however, this can be a serious mistake. CEO’s must understand that potential acquirers will be examining monthly sales reports with great interest. If potential acquirers notice downward trends they may want to negotiate a lower price. No matter how time consuming the sales process may be, CEO’s have to maintain or even accelerate sales.

Selling a business can have a wide array of surprises. Avoiding these kinds of issues is paramount. The good news is a CEO can drastically reduce them. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. It is vital to keep in mind that the best practice for selling a business is preparation and diligence. There can still be many surprises when selling a business. When selling a company. It is always a prudent move to hire or consult with a business broker or M&A specialist. Many offer free consulting and will help you prepare. Their goal is just to build a relationship. In hopes one day getting a sell side engagement.

Cody Weaver President at Business Acquisition Experts- “It is our goal to ensure the successful exit of as many fellow entrepreneurs as possible

Copyright: Business Acquisition Experts

Business Brokerage Press

 

Expert Advice to Help You Prepare to Sell Your Business

If you know you want to sell your business rather than pass it on to the next generation, these tips will help you do it right.

Expert Advice to Help You Prepare to Sell Your Business

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Do You Really Understand Your Customers?

The time you invest getting to know and understand your customers is time very well spent. The feedback you get is gold, pure gold. Yet, there are other reasons why this is a prudent move. Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons you should learn more about your customers and their specific needs.

Today’s world has become increasingly impersonal. Most of us spend a shocking amount of time looking at one type of digital screen or another. Personal interaction isn’t what it once was, and you can use that fact to help build your business.

The Ultimate Form of Customer Service

Good old fashioned human contact goes a long way when it comes to keeping customers happy, loyal and returning. The personal touch can go a long way towards building your business by improving customer service. Customer service has become, in general, a very impersonal experience for most people in the modern world.

In most businesses, the owner is more of an impersonal theoretic concept that an actual being; after all, how often do you meet the owners of the businesses that you frequent? As a business owner, when was the last time that you got on the phone or had lunch with a good customer? The truth is that customers and clients enjoy working directly with owners, and it makes them feel more connected with a business. An owner who is working directly with his or her customers or clients is engaged in a powerful form of customer service.

Building Relationships

Investing time to build your business’s key relationships is a prudent step. When was the last time that you took a moment to contact your accountant, banker, legal adviser or other key people that support your business, such as key suppliers? The time you invest communicating with these key people and institutions is time well-spent especially should a problem ever arise. Since most communication is now done online, a handwritten thank you note or a quick phone call can go a long way towards maintaining and building relationships.

It is important to rise above all the background noise of life. One of the best ways of doing so is to invest the time to add a personal touch.

Owning and operating a business shouldn’t be a stealthy activity. Instead, you the business owner should be out front meeting with customers, suppliers and other key people. Running a business isn’t a “backroom” operation, so go out there and meet your customers and other key people! This is how you build and protect your business.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Do You Really Know the Value of Your Company?

It is common for executives at companies to undergo an annual physical. Likewise, these same executives will likely examine their own investments at least once a year, if not more often. However, rather perplexingly, these same capable and responsible executives never consider giving their company an annual physical unless required to do so by rule or regulations.

Most Business Owners Don’t Know

Recently, a leading CPA firm undertook a study that was quite revealing. In particular, this study concluded that a whopping 65% of business owners don’t know the value of their company and 75% of the surveyed business owners had their net worth tied up in their businesses. Phrased another way, 75% of business owners don’t know how much they are worth! Perhaps most striking of all was the fact that a full 85% of business owners have no exit strategy whatsoever.

Having Recurrent Valuations is a Must

Business owners should know what their businesses are worth at least on an annual basis. Situations, both personal as well as in the economy at large, can change very rapidly. A failure to have a valuation leaves one exposed if issues suddenly arise involving estate planning or divorce or even partnership issues. These are just two examples of potential problems.

It is also vital to understand how your business compares to last year and previous years; after all, valuations should be increasing not decreasing. A valuation can also help you understand how your business compares to other businesses. Perhaps most importantly, an annual valuation can help you spot and fix problems.

“Buy, Sell or Get Out of the Way”

If you don’t know your valuation, then you truly don’t know where you are headed. As former Chrysler CEO, Lee Iacocca once stated, “Buy, sell or get out of the way.”

Standing still isn’t an option. You need to know your valuation in order to take full advantage of opportunities. You may feel that an acquisition isn’t the right move at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready! Having a current valuation means you’re ready to go if opportunity does, in fact, knock!

You never know when a potential acquirer may enter the picture. Imagine missing out on a tremendous opportunity because you didn’t have a valuation in place. Often hot offers and hot opportunities depend on speed. The time it takes to get a valuation could mean that the opportunity is no longer available. An accurate annual valuation of your business provides a valuable option whether you choose to exercise it or not.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Understanding Issues Your Buyer May Face

Not every prospective buyer actually buys a business. In fact, out of 15 prospective buyers, only 1 actually makes a purchase. Sellers should remember that being a buyer can be stressful. The bottom line is that buying a business is usually one of the single largest financial decisions that a person can make. In this article, we are going to explore a few of the reasons why being a buyer can be both stressful and taxing. Keeping a buyer’s perspective in mind will help you on the road to successfully selling your business.

A prospective buyer has many decisions to make before he or she decides to buy a business. Many prospective buyers are employed, and that means they will have to leave their existing job in order to buy a business. Simply stated, a buyer will have to leave the safety and security of their job and “strike out on their own.”

There are also other substantial financial concerns for buyers as well. The majority of buyers will, in fact, have to take out loans in order to purchase a business. Additionally, the new owner will need to execute a lease or assume the existing list. At the end of the day there exist an array of weighty business decisions that a buyer must make.

Ultimately, a buyer has to decide whether or not he or she is ready to take a giant step and purchase a business. This is more than just a financial decision. The enormity of the decision to purchase a business is such that touches every aspect of a person’s life. Owning a business can be very time consuming and demand a great deal of one’s attention. The end result, is that buying a business has a direct impact on both one’s financial life and one’s personal life. Owning a business can be extremely time consuming and this is particularly true for new business owners.

Prospective buyers need to weigh all the factors involved in buying a business. Caution must be exercised. Buyers need to step back and fully assess whether or not owning a business is right for them both on a personal and financial level. When sellers put themselves in their buyer’s “shoes,” things begin to look a bit differently.

When it comes to buying or selling a business, the assistance of a business broker is invaluable. A business broker understands what is involved in owning a business and can help both buyers and sellers evaluate the pros and cons of any transaction.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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