What to focus on when looking to sell your business.

Summary: What to focus on in selling your business. 


The time to sell your business is when you want out. The best time is when you have a new exciting project that you want to commit to. The optimum time to sell is when investors are excited by your sector and your business is in tip-top fighting condition within a dynamic market. 
This simple checklist should be at the heart of all business owners when looking to define their exit strategy timetable.  Buyers buy because of the potential they can see in making money from the business they are buying. They will pay a premium for a well-run company, with a motivated and dedicated management team, delivering efficient processes to loyal customers.     


Buyers Expectations

Buyers look at potential business acquisitions through the lens of perceived financial risks and rewards. Buyers weigh up the potential rewards over 3 to 5 years both in terms of profits coupled with its potential asset value (share value) as their return on their exit plan. The stronger your key business drivers, from the market you operate within through to how well you deliver your products and services define the start-point of the business value. In essence how you manage the risks around and within your business combined with how well you maximise your opportunities is what buyers are prepare to pay 
The strength and quality of your key business drivers is critical to receiving the highest possible price. In every business there are a whole host of significant business factors, depending upon industry, but the key common ones are consistently recurring income streams from diverse sources, strong strategic business plans delivering sustainable growth, strong future profitable cashflow all being delivered by a strong management team with appropriate operating systems.   
Business owners today looking to sell need to build each of these drivers to maximize your company’s purchase price.

1. Business History

The first driver buyers look at is a history of increasing revenues and profits year over year for the past three to five years. Remember, buyers buy businesses to make money. They want to see the track record, based upon the old adage that the past is the key to the future. Your history reduces risk to buyers as it shows your position with your market, and explains your product / services in terms of income and returns and it shows consistency of you operations.   

2. Strategic Business Plan

The second driver, the strategic direction (business plan) demonstrates the businesses strong organic growth, what happens if the new buyers do nothing once they have bought it. This provides buyers with a base case or buying the business.  Is it sustainable without the purchase, or is the purchase propping it up, if so the investment is being salted away on running the business not in creating value for the investors. 

The second fundamental element of this driver is the buyers investment plans, or often called their the inorganic growth plan.  Their plan must create a compelling competitive advantage within the target market for scalable growth.  High-growth markets are key target for investors particularly where that can be coupled with multiple market development to accelerate that growth. So if your business operates across multiple sectors, or can be able to then it is more appealing to investors than one which operates within a single or limited market.   

3. Future Cashflow 

Expected future cashflow is the third major business driver of business value. Cashflow in all its elements, from profit generation to working capital and investment capital requirements (including any future CapEx) all fit into the mix which financial assessment will include. 
The future EBITDA, as this is assessment is expressed are all-dependent upon the business owners strategic business planning. Understanding your market from the macro factors through to the micro drivers all combine into a well throughout plan which demonstrates sustained profitable sales and market growth. The strategic business plan needs to thoroughly explain how your business is both organically able to grow but also how the buyer will be able to leverage enhanced growth through its investment.  

4. Operational Risk

The fourth major business driver is in operational excellence through a strong management team in place supported by effective operating systems. The more your business revolves around only you or another “key people,” the greater the perceived risk among buyers. If that person is the owner, then any sale will buy them in, so owners need to make themselves redundant within the business. 
A strong management team, from leadership through to operational delivery people, is an ideal buyer purchase scenario. So metrics such as a high quality recruitment strategy and low staff turnover are highly desirable. What buyers are looking for is a strong culture and a stable labour force for future growth.

Next Steps

If you are looking to sell your business then the first steps are to get some professional advice to see where they are compared to where they need to be. Owners need to understand the key business drivers, which they can influence and take steps early towards developing these to improve your business drivers. That will drive your business value upwards and begin the process of polishing your business, making it more attractive to potential buyers.  
Strategic planning is one of the most effective things that business owners can do to add value to their business. Like to learn more then contact us to learn about our strategic planning services enquiries@cowdenconsulting.com or learn more at www.cowdenconsulting.com/strategy

Most popular posts by Richard Gourlay

Strategy: out compete the competition

Strategy: How Steve Jobs changed the world

What Great Leaders DO Differently

The power of WHY to consumers

Why GREAT LEADERSHIP is all about VISION