Companies are constantly being bought and sold; so regardless of what position you are in or what industry you service, selling your business is one of those topics you need to know about.
It’s a common misconception that the financial persons are overhead, are not valuable, and simply just count the numbers. But over the past 25 years, we have been converting those battling that stereotype into financial leaders. In the case of selling your business, a financial leader will do more than just put a nice price tag on the company, but transform it into a more profitable, more attractive company.
But why would someone want to sell their perfectly good company in the first place?
Why would you want to sell your company?
For an entrepreneur, selling your business is either one of two things: an unwanted but necessary action OR an opportunity to move onto the next venture. There are several events that could cause someone to sell their company. Those might include retirement, relationship issues, an illness or death, or the inability to perform financially (resulting in bankruptcy). Conversely, those in the business to sell might be bored, wanting more innovation and excitement.
Any of these reasons are not wrong; however, it should be important to you to want to get the most value of of your company in the case of a acquisition or merger.
How would sell your company?
There are a couple different ways that one could go about selling their company. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) argues that “If you have decided to get out of business and are not able to pass your business on, merge it with another business, or sell it as a going concern, liquidating the assets could be the most appropriate exit strategy.”
Liquidation is often used when your company is insolvent or unable to perform financially. This practice is often used to pay off any debt the company might have. Whenever a company is facing bankruptcy, debt restructuring is a vital part of the process to protect the debtors.
You could also sell off parts of the company, such as a practice, a product/service, talent. The reason why most companies would do this is because they have a product or service that doesn’t quite fit into their company. It’s the black sheep of the family! To create more of a synergistic entity, owners sell a part of the company or buy a part of another company. The goal of mergers and acquisitions to to bring more focus to the most profitable side of your business.
Or you could sell the entire company… Now there are two ways to sell the entire company: sell the assets (see above) or sell the stock. The later is more beneficial for the seller than the buyer. An article in the Wall Street Journal compared asset sales to stock sales and concluded that “Stock purchasers… are buying the company itself and thus are exposed to all of its potential problems.”
Valuing Your Business
Regardless of whether you are selling your business right now or not, it’s important to value your business. This just-in-case action will a) speed up the process if a buyer does come around, b) immediately add value to your company by addressing needs, and c) start the brainstorming session to improve your business. Valuing your business now will mean for a better future.
Beware of Those Destroyers
As you are valuing your business, find those “destroyers” that greatly impact the value of your company and take steps to address them immediately. What is a destroyer? We have partnered with Professor of Entrepreneurship at Rice University Al Danto to identify what areas in a business that destroy the value of your company. (You can access his free whitepaper here.)
The two most common destroyers that we see with our clients starts with the leader and the consistency of revenue.
Start with yourself… Are you destroying your company? Something at The Strategic CFO that we’ve always said is that the fish rots from the head down. If the leader of the company is not leading well, manipulating the team, abusing its employees, not managing well, or getting involved in illegal practices, then the business will loose major value. Suppose you are in a situation where you feel you are destroying your company, where do you start? First, do a self assessment on yourself. Then, interview your team on what you can do to change. Finally, put everything you learned into practice. Continue to do these three steps until you see major change in the success of the company.
As a financial leader, it is also your responsibility to communicate the consistency (or inconsistency) of your company’s revenue stream(s). Honesty is key in the financial world. Are you consistent or inconsistent? If the company has inconsistent revenue streams, present solutions to your management team to develop consistency. Buyers are willing to take risks, but they will choose a company that has more consistent revenue than a company that does not.
Prepping Your Company for Sale
The best prep you can do when preparing your company for sale is to actually prepare. What does this mean exactly? Clean up the books. Tidy up any loose ends. Address any issues you feel a buyer would be turned off from. Reflect on past performance, then focus the company to be more attractive to any buyer.
In addition, start the process of valuing your business, improving cash flow, and maximizing profitability.
Value Your Business
There are different methods to value your business, but the most commonly used method is EBITDA valuation. Reach your industry to figure out the most commonly multiple of EBITDA used in mergers and acquisitions. Once, you pinpoint that multiple, plug it into the following formula: Enterprise Value = Multiple * EBITDA
Improve Cash Flow
Cash is king. You have probably heard that a million times throughout business school and in your career. That statement cannot be emphasized or repeated enough because without cash flow, there is no business. Prepping your company for sale includes unlocking cash in your business.
How profitable is your company right now? Focus on maximizing the profitability of your company. If the focus of your entire team is to maximize profits and cash flow, great things will follow. If you’re in position to sell or just want to prepare for a potential sale, download the free Top 10 Destroyers of Value whitepaper to learn how to maximize your value.
Access your Exit Strategy Checklist Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get the most value out of your company when you sell.
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