We often get so buried in the day to day of running our businesses, that we don’t get the time to ‘check in’ across the myriad of essential building blocks that when added up, equate to our Asset Value.
When it comes time to sell your business, you need to be in a position where these are clear, efficient, fit together cohesively, are under control and also well-documented, to the point where you are confident that you are maximising your business’s value and someone else will be keen to buy at a fair price.
Likewise, having everything in order is equally valuable when contemplating buying a business. In essence, it’s your own DD Checklist to provide confidence and clarity.
Let’s be honest though, as a business owner it’s a real challenge to keep all of the plates spinning, regardless of the size of the plates and the business itself. (notwithstanding whatever else is going on in life).
In an ideal situation, it’s a good idea to have your business ready for sale, on any given day.
Here is a top-line overview of the key building blocks, with a basic selection of themes and questions to ask yourself, as an initial checklist, for both your business and business life, to see how ready you might be.
You (+ Life & Business Life balance)
e.g. How fundamental are you to the daily operations of the business? How easily can you extract yourself so that an earn-out isn’t negotiated from the new owner? What does life look like once you sell?
Goals & Timeline
e.g. What’s your plan? Do you have one?
Value Proposition & Market Need
e.g. What are you famous for? Why? How are you unique? What pain points are you alleviating or could you alleviate given a changing, disruptive business environment?
Competitors & Horizon
e.g. How are you placed compared with others? What’s putting you in the driving seat for the foreseeable future that a new owner can be confident about simply picking up the reigns and continuing to grow?
e.g. Are you clear about what your tangible and intangible assets are, together with what their value might be? Is it our brand? Content? Are you the key Asset?
e.g. Who is/are key? Is there genuine loyalty? Can the relationships be transferred easily to a new owner? Could a current relationship be a potential buyer?
e.g. Do you have a community or a database?
Technology & Systems
e.g. Is there a need to be up to date with your Systems? What part does Data play? What’s the potential for Automation? Are your systems secure?
Marketing & Communications
e.g. What’s the ROI? Are your activities and channels working? What research is currently underway or being analysed? Are you looking at Marketing Automation to maximise revenue opportunities? Do you have a single view of your customers? Do you segment? What’s the customer journey and user experience?
e.g. Do you have any and are they working?
Operations & People
e.g. Do you have any and are they working?
Pricing, Revenue, Budgets & Cashflow
e.g. Do you feel that you’re in good shape? Have you got a good accountant?
Capital & Resources
e.g. Can we see where the business could go with further investment, that might entice a future owner?
Documentation, Governance vs Management, Legal & Risk
e.g. Is your IP on paper or in your head? Do we need a Plan B and are we covered? How easy is it for a new owner to step in, without you? Have you got a good lawyer?
e.g. What potential issues might a prospective buyer raise and how easily/quickly can you alleviate any downside?
Do you feel better now or can you see the opportunity?
Once you have gone through this top-level checklist, it’s worth putting together a workable, affordable and realistic Action Plan based on your priorities, budget and also energy levels to close any gaps that you find. You can either do this yourself or getting someone to assist you to extract this info and find a path forward. At the same time, being held accountable is often a good way to allow you to focus on the important stuff and to get things done. Have you got a sound, experienced person who you can use as a Business Advisor?
When you feel like you’re in the best position that you’re likely to be in, then it’s time to offer your business to the market.
If you’ve ticked off some important things and tweak your business, this should be reflected in a higher sale price and a shorter lead time as the business is more attractive to potential purchasers. Ideally also, you will have extracted yourself enough that you aren’t required to go along with the sale and can simply hand over the keys.
Good luck. Co-Pilot is happy to help.
[From an Article written for ABC Business Sales]