Whether you think of your business as your baby or not, the fact remains that in order to have built a successful organisation, you’ll be personally invested and attached to it. Future buyers will look at it very differently, so it’s important to be clear-eyed in preparation for a sale. Consider the following questions:
1 – Is your business in the best shape it can be?
Many business-owners wait too long to sell, resulting in their business losing value. Make sure your business is in the best shape prior to a sale by creating as much value as possible. Do you have a robust P&L? Is your intellectual property protected?
2 – Do you have your documentation in order?
Firstly, make sure you have all your business documentation in order. Any prospective buyer will do their due diligence before a purchase and they’ll want to know you’ve got all the crucial documents to hand, including financial information, patents, corporate governance documents, agreements and contracts.
3 – What will a ‘good’ sale look like for you?
You need to decide what your priorities are from the sale, taking into account how much you want to get for it (and what your minimum price would be), how fast you need to sell, the long term prospects of the business and any other conditions or areas of compromise that you need to take into account.
4 – What kind of buyer will allow you to meet your goals for the sale?
Once you’re clear on exactly what you want and need out of the sale, you can prioritise different types of buyer. A Financial Buyer, who is primarily interested in the financial return of the business might get you the highest possible price, but a Strategic Buyer, who will be more interested in the long term opportunities, may be better placed to take over the running of your business sooner if that’s a priority for you
5 – Have you got all the information to negotiate the best deal?
You will need to assess a potential buyers’ suitability, relevant experience and liquidity. You’ll also need to scrutinise any offers closely to make sure that no onerous terms are slipped in. Remember that the purchase price is only one part of the agreement. You should also consider Payment terms, “Earn out” clauses, Acquisition financing security, Employment contracts, Non-compete agreements, Liability assumption and Equity ownership.
6 – How can you manage relationships with everyone involved in the sale?
It’s clear that a positive relationship with your buyer with help ensure a smooth transition and a successful exit. Equally, you’ll need to give some thought as to how to maintain transparency with your employees and other stakeholders, so that the change-of-hands leaves no one disgruntled.
7 – Who can support you to ensure the best exit?
Ensure that you identify and gather your advisers early so that they are there to support you in the framing of the principles of any deal, as well as negotiating the detail.
With a well-negotiated, positive agreement, you should be able to realise your company’s value, whilst ensuring you are leaving it in safe hands.