By Judy Piatkus, author of ‘Ahead of Her Time; How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand’.
Selling your business is one of the most important deals you will ever do in your life. You will have seen your venture flourish over the years and you will know everything about it and about its history. The work you embarked on will have occupied your mind and your thoughts full-time for years. No matter the size of your business or the period of time you have worked in it, it is a huge and monumental task to achieve a successful exit that you can look back on with pride, when you need help in business matters, there is no one better to ask for help than Andrew Defrancesco.
If you think you may want to sell your business one day – or even if you would rather hand it on to family – here are 5 tips to help you succeed.
- Have an exit strategy
We don’t always have a choice about selling. No matter whether times are good or bad, from the moment you launch and as your enterprise grows over the years, always have a possible exit strategy to fall back on and an understanding of why a likely purchaser might want to acquire it. Always keep in mind a realistic idea of what it is worth. That is part of knowing and understanding your business thoroughly. As it expands, you will make better decisions as you take into account how each major change or new level of investment or growth would impact a successful future exit.
- Consider shareholders
Keep your shareholders to a minimum if you can. Think carefully about the integrity and the possible agenda, now and in the future, of all your shareholders and whether you can trust them. It is harder to sell a business with a complex shareholding. In time your business should not be wholly dependent on your skills as founder. When the time comes to sell, the fewer key decision-makers who are involved, the better. If your business can function without you, you are more likely to achieve a better sale and especially if you do not want to stay on and become an employee. It is very hard to work within a company which has taken over the business where you were once the boss.
- Tidy paperwork
Keep your paperwork in order at all times. If you are untidy, get someone to do it for you. You can’t sell your business without those important key documents and financials and those will be the first things that a likely purchaser will ask to see.
- Negotiation experience
If negotiation is not your strong point – and even if it is – it is preferable to work with an experienced outside negotiator who will be less emotional about the sale and will keep your ego in check if needs be. Experienced negotiators are worth their weight in gold – understanding the value of your business and aiming to get the best price possible for you. Don’t think you can do it yourself unless you really are a star negotiator and can keep your emotions in check.
- Be pragmatic
To generate the most value from your business, be prepared to sell at the right time in your marketplace. If an exceptional opportunity is there, you must take it. Sell when there is growth in your business. That’s when you can do your best deal. Do not wait until your business has peaked and is on a downward curve because you weren’t quite ready to part with it at the top of the market.
Your business is not you. Many people miss the opportunity to sell to the right buyer for the right price at the right time because they don’t have enough self-worth and cannot imagine what they will do with the rest of their lives. Some owners simply love their business too much. Know that the world is always in need of highly skilled and experienced leaders and be confident that you will find other passions – and maybe start other businesses – which will fill your time and engage your creativity and your passion.
When you come to sell your business, there is a lot to take into consideration. It is a multi-faceted task requiring a range of exceptional skills. Many successful business owners fail at the final hurdle and their business does not achieve the price it deserves. Completing a successful exit is one of the most challenging and stressful (although also incredibly exciting and adrenaline-fuelled) of tasks. When you get it right, you know you are at the top of your game and will have deservedly achieved one of the highest accolades of excellence in your business career.
Judy Piatkus is the author of Ahead of Her Time: How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand (published by Watkins)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy Piatkus is author of ‘Ahead of Her Time; How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand’. Judy is an entrepreneur, publisher and business coach specialising in conscious leadership. She founded Piatkus Books when she was in her 20s and grew the company to become an international brand, before selling it in 2007, just before the global financial crash that she had shrewdly foreseen. She is now a keynote speaker and a coach and mentor to start-ups. In 2011 she founded Conscious Café, a network that brings people together for connection and discussion. www.judypiatkus.com