SELLING a business is the most important transaction a founder will ever complete. When planning for a change of ownership the key is to get your business in the best of shape.
But how do you maximise your return? I advise that planning should begin years before the preferred date of sale to make sure the business is flawlessly structured.
It is very important that the business has a strong second tier management team with experienced, knowledgeable and competent employees who can take it forward.
Strong firms with a good, secure order book and history of good cash management, preferably with freeholds and intellectual property, will attract good multiples and interest from prospective purchasers.
Make sure your business is well regarded within its sector. What’s your unique selling proposition? Why would a purchaser be interested in acquiring your business? You need a compelling story which focuses on company strengths.
When advising your shareholders of future plans, try to identify obvious purchasers two years before the business comes to market. Look into their acquisitions and study their business. Your business can be shaped in alignment with a preferred purchaser if you plan in advance.
Competitors also need to know of your strengths. Effective PR and marketing build brand and goodwill in target sectors.
To make the most of your company’s potential you should seek expert advice. The right professional advisers will add real, tangible value. Corporate finance and accounting advisers are key, to ensure finances are in order and clearly presented and shares are correctly structured.
They have the insight to transform the value of a business prior to and during the disposal process by identifying and negotiating with potential purchasers. Solicitors will advise on the legal structure of the business and compliance.
Buyers make their decision based not only on current performance, but also potential. Your advisers can boost confidence with detailed forward planning and financial forecasts. The devil is in the detail, so the earlier your business has a plan for sale in place, the better.
:: Carl Swansbury is director of corporate finance at Ryecroft Glenton