EXIT STRATEGIES: BUILDING A BUSINESS FOR SALE
It’s no secret that the internet is flooded with all kinds of information for business owners on what to do next and how to do it. The problem is: most are written in a way that are not easily understood or lack actual experience and expertise. It’s true, many articles online are written in a way to just score more site hits through search engine optimization (more about SEO later). That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t truly genuine pieces out there designed to help. Our purpose is to provide a platform to share our expertise and make readers aware of who we are and what we have to offer.
I will start off by saying that I would not, by any means, consider myself the end authority on business decisions. What I bring to the table instead is my personal knowledge, experience, along with a lot of successes and a few failures. The thing that I absolutely know for certain: strategy is the key to winning in business.
Three Keys to Business Success
Owning a company and having been in the field of helping others with theirs, I have learned a few key pieces that I share at presentations, on podcasts, and to pretty much anyone who will listen. First, you must have something that somebody wants. You can have the greatest idea in the world, and it may be something you enjoy, but it’s completely worthless from a business standpoint if no one wants to buy it. The purpose of the enterprise, after all, is to make money.
Second, you must know who it is that wants whatever you have to offer. This is the beginning piece of what I will cover further down but, to put it simply, it’s crucial to know your buyers. Having a targeted client helps save a lot of time and unnecessary expense, as well as gives your strategies an overall focus.
Finally, you need to have a way for that person previously mentioned to get what you’re selling. While all of these are important, this is the most crucial one of the three. That said, you must have the first two pieces in order before you get to this step. This leads us to the real meat of this write-up.
Strategic Marketing Plans
I promise that marketing is not a dirty word and is the actual life source of successful businesses. In my personal experience, most people have an aversion to marketing for two reasons: 1) because they don’t understand it and 2) they have tried something in the past without a focus and it failed to bring a return. Anyone in business, myself included, has spent money on something that didn’t pan out at one point or another. That doesn’t mean it should be avoided altogether.
Most of the business owners that I have served are great at what they do on the product or service side, but most have little experience or knowledge with strategic marketing. Again, that’s perfectly okay. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as when and who to bring in for assistance. It is not uncommon for small and medium-sized businesses to triple their revenue in a short period of time with the right marketing strategy.
Where to Begin in Building a Business For Sale
So, how do you do it? It can be as simple and complex as you want it to be, but it also depends on industry and business itself. Look at your most profitable clients. Are there certain characteristics that they all share? Where do they get their information? How do they make purchasing decisions? My suggestion is to send out a market survey to all of your current and previous clients to gather this information (you may even want to include people outside of that if you have less than 100). If you’re unsure of what questions to ask, take some time to google market surveys that were done by others. Once you’ve gathered as much data as possible. trends will quickly emerge. Take time to analyze that information and then make decisions accordingly.
Selling Your Business
So, you’re building the business but how does it help with selling it? Companies are more likely to find qualified buyers for acquisition if they have a clear target and marketing strategy. Sellers can mitigate a lot of questions and doubt with a proven track record of consistent revenue based upon a data-driven marketing plan. This applies to general buyers, strategic buyers, and private equity firms (most of which have specific criteria of wants before they’ll even review a potential purchase).
Think of it like the HVAC system in your home. Yeah, someone might buy it without one as a “fixer-upper” for a tremendously discounted price. That said, it’s no secret that sellers will usually get their asking price if everything is in working order, has curb appeal, and may need just a little updating or tune-up.
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Written by Joseph L. Fleenor, Jr. MBA MSA
As an Acquisitions Associate for Indiana Business Advisors, Joseph assists advisors throughout the entire transaction process. With his formidable experience in M&A, Joseph is able to inform all stages of the process, from initial valuation, estimates, through due diligence documentation and final purchase. When he’s not doing a deep dive into company financials, Joseph is working hard to ensure that IBA finds the right buyers for our client’s businesses by prepping informational materials and creating targeted marketing lists. As a fellow business owner and prior consultant, Joseph understands the intricacies and complexities that come with navigating corporate finance and strategy.
Joseph comes to IBA with a strong educational background. Joseph earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in 2012, Master of Business Administration in International Business and International Finance from Butler University in 2018, and Master of Science in Accounting from Purdue in 2021. In addition to his degree, he has a Financial Modeling & Valuation Analysis Certification and is working toward CFA level 1. Before becoming involved in the financial and investment industries six years ago, Joseph did a term in the United States Army as a multiple launch rocket system crewmember.