Business owners – does anyone know your company as well as you do?
If you answered no, then your chances of finding the optimal buyer for your business just dropped. Why? Because when buyers size up your company as a target for acquisition, they want to know it has great prospects with or without your guidance. If you fall into the trap of building a business that is too reliant on your vision, ideas and dedication to succeed (or if you make all of the daily decisions), it becomes very difficult to exit for the optimal value.
It all boils down to this – RISK is a buyer’s least favorite word and something they seek to reduce at all costs. A company that relies solely on the guidance of its owner constitutes a major risk. Will the business continue to grow without the influence of its owner? Is the company’s success dependent on the personality of its founder? Are the relationships with key clients managed by the owner? These questions severely impact the value of your business in the eyes of potential buyers.
“The transferable value of your company is what someone is willing to pay you for your company without you. If you haven’t worked on making your business transferrable — meaning it works without you — you’re going to get less when you sell your company. Period.”
So, ask yourself these three key questions:
If you feel your business suffers from a severe case of owner dependence, here are five helpful ways you can reduce this reliance.
1. Build Your Management Team
First things first – build the key players in your team. Hiring the right people that are passionate about your industry and understanding how your business works is critical in demonstrating its future success to potential buyers.
These will be the people that will build on the foundations you laid for your business, contributing ideas, hard work and taking responsibility for its long-term growth. Hopefully, by choosing the right people, your business will run smoothly whether you’re there or not.
2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
It’s not enough to simply hire the right people: you need to empower them to make decisions. Of course, we understand it can be difficult to delegate responsibilities when you believe you know how to run your company better than anyone (a very dangerous trap to fall into by the way).
But, a buyer needs reassurance that your business will operate well without your presence. Resisting the desire to delegate hinders company growth and buyers will be unsure about its potential when it’s no longer in your hands.
3. Document Key Information
You may have all the answers, but how can you prove it? Even if you and your team have a crystal-clear view of the processes that make your business run, it’s important to document these so prospective buyers can grasp them.
Take the time to note your procedures down to help familiarize interested parties, as well as bring potential new members of your management team up to speed quickly. We understand that most entrepreneurs loath “paperwork” like this. However, if you take the time now to document your procedures, it will pay off handsomely when you negotiate with buyers later.
4. Talk Up Your Team
If you have built the perfect management team, don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. A potential buyer needs to know the business will grow without you and one of the best ways to do this is to show them how capable your management team is. Endorse their knowledge and expertise – remember, these are the key assets of your company’s growth, so they will be expected to play that role for the next owner.
Above all else, talking about how good your team is takes attention away from how big a role you play, which is what buyers want to see. So when you create your organizational chart and bios for your key people in your offering memorandum, be sure that your bio is not the longest!
5. Build with the Exit in Mind
Finally, it’s essential to take the mindset that you will one day exit your business. It may not be tomorrow, next year or in the next ten years, but it will happen, which is why it’s vital to prepare for it now. This approach will ensure you follow the above steps – by building an effective team around you, as these human assets will enhance your company’s valuation.
Overall, this attitude will help you avoid the red flags buyers pick up on and will end up enhancing the appeal of your business. If you’d like to learn more about how to adopt this mindset and sidestep the trap of owner dependence, download our complimentary white paper How to Make Your Company “Buyer Ready”.
For a more in-depth look, join us for a complimentary executive conference, which are held throughout North America all year round. The experienced M&A professionals at Generational Equity will guide you on building a buyer-ready company and creating the optimal exit strategy, as well as getting to know you and your ambitions for your business. In just a short space of time, you will leave with a clear understanding about your business future, armed with valuable knowledge on how to get there.
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward. P.S. Given my experience with GE I felt comfortable enough to sign up with Generation Wealth Advisors!Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
We had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.Pete L.
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
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