Succession Planning: Which Professionals Do You Need to Help Sell Your Company?
When it comes time to sell your business or transfer it to your children, having the right people in your corner will make all the difference
Every business owner knows it takes years of effort, dedication, and hard work to build and scale a thriving company. When you’re ready to sell your business or transfer it to the next generation of family it’s important to have a powerful team of professionals assisting you every step of the way.
Whether you’re just starting to look into a potential sale or you’ve already got a plan in place, here are the six essential players you’ll need to assemble for a smooth and profitable transition.
It is likely that any buyer will have their own appraisal conducted during the course of negotiations – but it will benefit you to commission your own appraiser up front to provide a solid, unbiased idea of the true value of the business.
Having an appraisal done by a qualified professional will give you the opportunity to assess the business’s history, value, and finances. It is important to have a concrete idea of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, and enterprise value prior to heading to the negotiating table. And it can be useful to identifying improvements that can be made to increase the value of the business.
A good business appraisal is as much art as it is science. To provide an opinion of value involves using several valuation methodologies, including:
Multiple of Discretionary Earnings: This method, otherwise known as Seller’s Discretionary Earnings, is based on a cash-payback method. The discretionary cash flow is the cash flow available to the prospective purchaser to service acquisition debt associated with the business purchase and to pay himself/herself a salary.
Discounted Cash Flow: Discounted cash flow (DCF) is a valuation method used to estimate the value of an investment based on its future cash flows, where each year after the current year the probability of receiving the stream of cash flow is discounted from the previous year.
Market Comparable Data: This valuation method determines the most probable selling price of a small business but requires available data from other recent transactions, which can be hard to find.
Asset Replacement Value: The market value of the assets being acquired helps to form an opinion of value but does not include intangible items like the value of a customer list, trade secrets, proprietary systems, etc. that make up what is referred to as “goodwill.”
Rule-of-Thumb Method(s): There are industry-specific rule-of-thumb formulas based on what businesses have actually sold for, and they can be acquired by a few proprietary sources like the Business Reference Guide by Tom West and the California Association of Business Brokers.
Looking to get an estimate of value for free? We offer an assessment based on the discounted cash flow method. And we provide a series of recommendations on what you can do to improve the value of your business. For a complimentary assessment and recommendation, visit our site.
2. Investment banker
If you’ve been focusing on building and scaling your business, you may not have invested a lot of energy into figuring out who possible buyers are and where they are located. An investment banker – or business intermediary as they are sometimes called – or a business broker can help you understand the landscape, scope out candidates inside and outside your niche, and identify and secure potential buyers.
Their input and the amount of work required to market and sell your business is going to depend upon a number of factors including size, complexity, and marketability of the business. The banker’s role will include presenting and negotiating the deal between parties and working through any material issues that come up during the sale process.
3. Business advisor/coach
This is the role I’ve played for some of my clients that has earned me respect and a little extra money.
A business advisor or coach can help you craft the best possible pitch and presentation for selling your business. A great advisor can come aboard early on in the process to assess areas that need improvement to make it more attractive to potential buyers. They can help you understand the valuation of the business and those drivers that will increase the value, and they will continue working up until and through the closing of the sale to create more value, which can result in a higher sale or transfer price. As well, a good advisor can be a great sounding board because they are neutral in the transaction outcome while taking a stand for your most desired outcome.
If your finances aren’t organized, for instance, they can help you get things in order quickly by bringing in a trusted financial resource such as a bookkeeper, controller, or CFO. If you’re understaffed or overstaffed, or if you have the wrong people in the company or don’t have important positions filled, they can get your staffing levels dialed in and help with recruitment of important positions so you can be more attractive to buyers. These are just a few activities that I’ve been involved in on a recent sale.
An attorney is necessary for helping draft or review contracts and addressing any legal issues that may arise. While you may have your investment banker assisting with the negotiation, an attorney will be vital to ensuring that all regulatory and legal aspects of the sale offer you the most possible protection.
These can include any concerns about liabilities, human resources and personnel, warranties, confidentiality agreements, tax structure, and any other applicable issues. The attorney can review the contracts and documents pertinent to the sale and help protect your legal interests as much as possible.
On a recent transaction I was involved in, we needed an immigration attorney to resolve the employment of under-documented workers who might not have been legal to work in the U.S. This type of “deal killer” was haunting to my client’s buyer when they found it out nine months into due diligence.
A good accountant or CPA can make all the difference in the speed, ease, and profitability of a potential sale. Their role is to guide you through the transaction and afterward, to assist as you transition into the new situation.
The accountant can help you through the sale by working with the appraiser and business coach to identify and strengthen strategic strong points and shore up weaker areas. They can also assist in aggregating data for presentation, crafting an appropriate tax structure, preparing forecasts and projections, and more.
6. Insurance agent
A wise insurance agent helps protect owners of property and employers. Risk protection is a complex, nuanced issue for today’s businesses, and keeping an insurance agent in the loop will be key to ensuring that you’re covered where you need to be.
Insurance agents can be especially helpful in family transition planning, where key man insurance plans may be needed or where the owners and family members can benefit from setting up executive deferred compensation plans that fund into an insurance policy.
Selling your business doesn’t have to be stressful
There’s no doubt that the ins and outs of selling a business are complex. The right team of people can smooth out the rough edges and make the process as easy – and profitable – as possible. If you’re looking for an experienced mentor to guide you using proven solutions to almost every business challenge and opportunity imaginable, and to support your growing company – we’re the coach you want.
Goldhill Group has helped coach hundreds of companies to grow cash flow, increase profits, maximize teams, and build focus, engagement, and satisfaction for owners, leaders, and their teams. Contact us today to book your complimentary strategy session.