Maximizing your business’ sale price requires a great deal of preparation. Whether you’re a single location shop, a family-run organization or any type of business in between, there are steps you can start taking today to smooth the transition. Dominic Reolfi , CPA/ABV, MT is a manager at 415 Group and has overseen many business valuations. Read on as he takes a deeper look at how to prepare for a business sale.
Whether a business sale is in your short-term or long-term plans, there are many steps you can start taking today. Not only will these preparations help you maximize your sale price, but they’ll also help elevate your business. That’s because things like balance sheet optimization and minimizing tax liabilities are really just best business practices anyways.
The biggest mistake that I see businesses make is simply waiting too long to start preparing.
Selling a business requires quite a bit of planning. And the best time to start that planning is now, not when unforeseen circumstances force a sale. We see this scenario many times in family-owned businesses. Ownership’s plan might be to pass the business down to the next generation, however, the children may not be interested when it comes time for succession. In these cases, not being prepared to sell to an external party will put the business at risk of being sold below its actual value or create other complications–many of which could’ve been solved by preparation.
Another common issue is not knowing your business’ real value. While some businesses may have a ‘gut feeling’ of their market worth, without the proper research and business valuation, their asking price might be problematic. Starting a business sale with a value that’s too low is likely to have you leaving money on the table. On the flip side, starting at too high of a valuation can scare off potential buyers and limit offers.
At 415 Group, we’re experts in helping prepare businesses for sale. In fact, we have Stark County’s largest team of certified business valuation experts on staff. From business consultation to preparing financial compilations, we have the knowledge and tools to set you up for a successful sale.
For some business owners, succession planning is a complex and delicate matter involving family members and a long, gradual transition out of the company. Others simply sell the business and move on. There are many variations in between, of course, but if you’re leaning toward a business sale, here are seven ways to prepare:
1. Develop or renew your business plan. Identify the challenges and opportunities of your company and explain how and why it’s ready for a sale. Address what distinguishes your business from the competition, and include a viable strategy that speaks to sustainable growth.
2. Ensure you have a solid management team. You should have a management team in place that’s, essentially, a redundancy of you. Your leaders should have the vision and know-how to keep the company moving forward without disruption during and after a sale.
3. Upgrade your technology. Buyers will look much more favorably on a business with up-to-date, reliable and cost-effective IT systems. This may mean investing in upgrades that make your company a “plug and play” proposition for a new owner.
4. Estimate the true value of your business. Obtaining a realistic, carefully calculated business appraisal will lessen the likelihood that you’ll leave money on the table. A professional valuator can calculate a defensible, marketable value estimate.
5. Optimize balance sheet structure. Value can be added by removing nonoperating assets that aren’t part of normal operations, minimizing inventory levels, and evaluating the condition of capital equipment and debt-financing levels.
6. Minimize tax liability. Seek tax advice early in the sale process — before you make any major changes or investments. Recent tax law changes may significantly affect a business owner’s tax position.
7. Assemble all applicable paperwork. Gather and update all account statements and agreements such as contracts, leases, insurance policies, customer/supplier lists and tax filings. Prospective buyers will request these documents as part of their due diligence.
Succession planning should play a role in every business owner’s long-term goals. Selling the business may be the simplest option, though there are many other ways to transition ownership. Please contact our firm for further ideas and information.