This week’s Head Noise is presented as a guest blog by Doug Hubler, CEO of Apex Business Advisors. Apex has been providing business sales, merger and acquisition services since 1998 to help guide business owners through the completion of a successful transaction. The Head Noise editors present this post based on its valuable advice for business owners.
Small business thinking leads to small business value. Thinking as a big company will likely lead to an increase in value. Some simple things to implement now, long before you are even considering selling, that can tremendously impact the value and marketability of your business include:
- Financial record keeping. Quit using the company checkbook as a guide to financial health and analysis! Implement and utilize a consistent and intuitive bookkeeping system such as QuickBooks. Clean books are essential to calculating value.
- Management team/delegation. While an owner who does everything and puts in a 60 or 70 hour work week may save on overhead, a buyer will recognize this as a deficiency and will reduce their offer based on their perceived personnel needs. Make a move to add necessary staff now, delegate your workload, and shift your focus to working on the business.
- Sales staff. Same as above. If the owner is the main sales person, a buyer will perceive a huge risk of losing clients in a transition.
- Web presence. Seriously, no website?
- Customer concentration. If only a few customers make up a large portion of the business volume, regardless of the margins, buyers will mitigate their risk of losing key customers by simply paying less for the company.
- Separation of personal and business expenses. Stop paying personal expenses out of the business checkbook. Treating the business as a personal slush fund significantly complicates a buyer’s verification of business profitability. And reporting $5,000 in personal expenses on your business tax return may save you $1,500 in taxes, but it just nicked business value by about $15,000 or $20,000.
- Seller Motivation. The business owner needs to be committed to the selling process. A “throw it out there for an outrageous price and let’s see what happens” mentality results in fewer interested buyers and in a final selling price that is lower than if the business had been priced and marketed appropriately from the start. Business owners should demonstrate to buyers that they are serious about smoothly transitioning their business by setting a reasonable asking price, providing accurate information, and responding expediently to questions and requests. Buyers will respond favorably.
These simple steps implemented long before the selling process begins can have a strong impact on business marketability and value. Which of these will you begin to implement right now?
Doug Hubler President
Note: If you have an interesting and/or educational CEO story of Head Noise caliber, write to me, Cameron Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to speak with you and share your story in my Head Noise blog. You can tell your story either on the record or, without attribution.
Cameron Bishop is a partner with The Capitus Group. The firm provides comprehensive business value enhancement and transition strategy solutions. Partners and Advisory Directors comprise an experienced team of business professionals who have successfully owned, run, grown and sold companies. Capitus utilizes proven value enhancement and risk reduction techniques to enable superior transition options.