If you are a business owner in Clayton Missouri, there will come a day when you look at “how to sell my business” as the main question you ask yourself and perhaps the first thing to type in the search box in Google or your favorite search engine. When you type in “how to sell my business in Clayton ” I am sure you will find all kinds of information on just that. I have compiled 7 of the things most business owners don’t know about or don’t think about before that day (or the day of) that would certainly make the day you do sell your business a more profitable one. Most companies who visit with us are looking to find out what their business is worth first. Most business owners have no idea what their company is worth. Wouldn’t you like to know about what it is worth before you hire a Clayton business broker (we’re not brokers, by the way)?Before I go into all that let’s look at the 7 biggest mistake business owners make when they get to the point of asking “how to sell my business”1. They assume they “know” what their company is worth and make up a price – Look the first problem with this approach is that your business is usually “your baby”. If you have owned your business for a long time you know that you have spent more time with it than perhaps even your family, spouse and kids! It’s always there, even in the back of your mind………and sometimes it is hard to understand why someone can’t see your business worth the way you see it. That’s okay, but it is better to have a certified 3rd party give a certified opinion or appraisal of your business.Look at it this way, if you and I were going to go downtown and buy the Hilton Hotel, we would find a qualified appraiser to give us his professional opinion, wouldn’t we? We certainly wouldn’t take the owner’s word for it or even their accountant’s word for it. We would want an independent opinion and official analysis.But you say, hey my business isn’t worth that much to justify the cost. What? Even if your business is only worth $25,000, at least you would have an official 3rd party appraisal and a “floor” price you could start at. And with the discounts available when you go through someone like valuationbroker.com, you could literally add thousands if not tens of thousands to your sales price, and only pay a small percentage to have it done.I would not even consider selling any business without this step, no way, ever.You see, most business buyers are smart, like you, they have done a lot of right things to get where they are and unless they have recently inherited the money, they are sophisticated to a degree and will do their homework when looking for a company to purchase. The real advantage to having your company appraised first (by an independent 3rd party certified appraiser) is that you are the one driving the appraisal, not the buyer.2. They ask their accountant what their company is worth and use that number – You accountant is probably a very smart individual, however when coming to valuing a business or having one in on the sales process, I have one rule. I make sure they have been in on at least 10 business sales in the past 12 months, no exceptions. I have seen more deals killed by well meaning accountants. Don’t make this mistake.I don’t care what your accountant thinks your business is worth. I don’t care what MY accountant thinks your business is worth. I want to know what the market tells me.
So that’s why I want an independent look from a qualified third party to tell me the current “market value”. I have seen hundreds of business owners make this mistake and it can (and has) literally meant the difference of getting only half of what they could have! Half!What’s also most interesting about accountants is that they tend to favor using the book value of your business as a starting point and not the market value. Big big mistake. You’ll leave a ton on the table this way. Don’t do it!3. They take the number off their balance sheet and say that’s what their company is worth – You balance sheet tells you the hard value of the assets you have, that’s it! It doesn’t take into consideration what the value of your assets are that have already been depreciated or your blue sky value, or good name, or customer base……….all things that can add tremendously to the bottom line value of your business!4. They read a few articles in INC magazine and guess a number (even saying something like “companies in my industry are selling for 3 Times earnings”) They may even refer to their latest tax return for a number – Don’t be fooled by this! There are so many variables even with similar businesses in the same industry. The true value of your Missouri business is NOT the same as the guy down the street, even if you do the same thing! The true value of your Clayton business is NOT like real estate, where you can compare with the property down the street.That is like saying the space shuttle is like a bicycle. True they are both forms of transportation, but one is a bit more complicated than the other. Again, have it appraised by a “market appraiser”. Best money you will EVER spend. Ask ANYONE who has EVER sold a business! 5. They trust a FREE tool on the internet to give them the value of their business – While these free tools are valuable to help obtain a “range of value” (we have one too), they are not the complete answer and you can’t use them to justify your asking price. If you have a properly done market appraisal, it will include a “justification of purchase price” section that says, “this is what your business is worth in this market, and here is why it is worth that”That is such an important step. Buyers are smart and want to know how you came to the price you did. Now you know what to do so you can stand behind your price.
Plus you will know just what the market is doing. It isn’t the accountant or the balance sheet or your uncle attorney that dictates the price, it’s the market! So knowing this, it is important to know just what the market price is. I have seen market prices be twice what the accountant says the business is worth!6. They haven’t made their business run without them – This is a no-brainer, yet many business owners don’t think of it. Your business will be worth a lot more if it can run without you there. Otherwise whoever buys it will be buying a “job”. Nothing wrong with that, but realize, those businesses just are not worth as much when you go to sell them.7. They hire the wrong attorney to help them with the final paperwork (the wrong attorney could be their best friend) – This is just like the accountant, unless the attorney you use has closed 10 or more deals within the past 12 months, don’t use them! So many well meaning attorneys have killed countless deals, UNNECESSARILY!I wish you well and hope you take these things to heart (and action). I have seen so many sellers walk away with a lot less than they could have, had they JUST used these few tips!Good Luck, I wish you continued success! (don’t forget to get a certified third party, independent report for your business BEFORE you list it to sell) You’ll be glad you did! Buying a business? Use the same concepts! Cheers!
The Best Clayton Missouri Business BrokersYou are contemplating on selling your business and want to understand how best to maximize the value of your business. You might have heard from your industry contacts that some businesses similar to yours sold for 3 times EBITDA and some others sold for 6 times EBITDA. This variation could mean a difference of several million dollars in take-home! What makes this variation possible?How can you get the best value for your business?The purpose of this article is to help you look at your business as an acquirer might in valuing your company. The more attractive you can make your business to the acquirer, the better chance that you will get a higher value for your business. Your M&A advisor will also play a big role in the valuation and we will cover this in a different article.Here is a list of key vectors acquirers use in evaluating business:1. Strategic Fit: Strategic fit occurs when some aspects of your business (products, services, distribution channels, location, etc.) are worth a lot more to another player in the industry than it is to you. When a strategic fit is established, the acquirer sees your business on a post acquisition basis and may be willing to offer much more than the going market multiples. Give careful consideration to who the strategic acquirers may be. This is one area where a knowledgeable M&A advisor can be of great help to you.2. Cash Flow: After strategic fit, cash flow is the single largest value driver for most businesses. Think of ways to improve your EBITDA on a sustainable basis. Acquirers are suspicious of short term jumps in cash flow. So, be careful not to delay hiring or equipment purchases beyond what you believe is reasonable. Once an acquirer starts doubting your credibility, the due diligence increases and the acquirer will make changes to valuation to adjust for the risk.3. Management Depth: Keep in mind that acquirers buy a business that they hope will be functional and growing after the sale. It is tough for the acquirer to place high value on your business if you are the sole decision maker in the company and the business depends largely on your skill set. Developing your staff so that they can run the business when you are gone can pay big dividends when it is time to sell. If you are concerned about your employees leaving once you are gone, it may be good idea to consider employment contracts, stock grants and other incentives that give them a reason to stay long term. If possible, start work on staff related issues at least a year before you plan on starting the sales process.4. Customer Diversity: Acquirers are nervous about businesses where a high percentage of business comes from a handful of customers. Ideally, no single customer should contribute to more than 10% of your revenues or profits. The best solution for this problem is to diversify the customer base. If that is not feasible, be prepared to accept part of the transaction price paid as earn-outs or plan on supporting the acquirer in an advisory role to ensure customer continuity.5. Recurring Revenue Stream: Acquirers love predictable and low risk revenue streams. Any long term contracts, annual service/licensing fees, and other recurring revenue streams make business more desirable and fetch a higher price in the marketplace. In service oriented business, converting predictable customer support calls into recurring revenue stream can turn a business liability into an asset.6. Desirable Products & Services That Are Difficult To Copy: Acquirers place higher value on a business with unique products, services, or distribution systems than a business whose offerings are considered generic. What is unique about your business? Think of ways in which your product/service is unique and why it should be valuable to an acquirer. Having an edge and having the ability to communicate the edge can do wonders to your business's valuation.7. Barriers To Entry: With so much competition all around you, why is your business difficult to copy? Why will the acquirer have as much success with the business as you have had? Is it because of intellectual property (patents, copyrights), regulation (permits, zoning), difficult to get contracts (you are one of the two or three qualified vendors at each of your major accounts), or something else? Having good answers to these questions indicates that there are barriers to entering your business. These barriers make your businesses more valuable than your competitor's with similar cash flow.8. Pending Upsides: You believe you are about to come up with a compelling new product or make major inroads into a premier customer. You expect these developments will double your business next year and do not want your company to be undervalued based on current financials. Delaying the sale has other consequences that make it unattractive for you to wait. So, what do you do? A good forecast backed up by management presentations with examples on why the company would achieve the forecasts is extremely powerful. However, keep in mind that any forecasts that do not materialize as planned during the sales process can have substantial negative impact on the sales price. Having a good understanding of your product/sales pipeline and having the ability to communicate it with your M&A advisor can help structure a deal where part of the sales price can be paid in earn-out to capture some of the upside.9. Industry Exposure: Perceived industry leadership is an intangible that can enhance your company valuation. Keep a record of newspaper stories, articles in trade magazines, mentions on local TV or any other mention of your company in print or any other media. Your business is more valuable, if your company is perceived as being a leader in the industry and sought after for its expertise. Asking your employees to write articles and keeping in touch with local and industry reporters not only enhances your valuation in the long term but also helps drive your business and image in the community.10. Strategic Plan: A written strategic growth plan that clearly documents the areas the company can grow can be an asset to acquirer. Length of the document is not as important as the content. A well written 2 or 3 page growth plan is sufficient. Acquirers will also find useful prior year plans that show the history of your ventures - along with their failures and successes.11. Record Keeping: To many acquirers, high quality book keeping reduces risk and also says a lot about how the business was run. Having a set of clean, easily auditable books inspires confidence and helps during the due diligence and negotiation process.12. Accentuate The Positive: Every business has its chinks and it is very important for the seller to identify these negatives and proactively offer solutions for turning the negatives into positives. It is important sellers take steps to put out any bad news on the table early and dealing with issues upfront. Unidentified negatives can haunt you during the negotiating process.The most important takeaway from this article should be that while EBITDA matters, EBITDA is not everything. Improvement along the key vectors mentioned above will give you and your M&A advisor a considerable upper hand during the negotiation process. If the EBITDA of your business is $1 million, a difference in a multiple of 3 and 6 would mean a difference of $3M in pre-tax earnings. Not bad for doing a little bit of homework!