Many business owners are emotionally attached to their businesses, and it is easy to understand why. Typically, business owners invest not only a considerable amount of time and money into their business, but a good bit of themselves as well. Owning and operating a business often becomes part of one’s identity. However, the fact is that no one will work forever, as retirement eventually comes for almost every business owner. With this in mind, it is important to prepare for selling your business well in advance.
Brokerage professionals can take your knowledge regarding your business, and use it to help you frame your business in the best possible light. Your expertise in your business can also help a broker find ways to improve your business so that it is more attractive to potential buyers. With all of this in mind, let’s turn our attention to the key steps you should take when preparing to sell your business and transition into retirement.
Select Your Second-in-Command
Any savvy buyer will want to know that the business is well supported by a capable team. Buyers rightfully worry about having a smooth transition period, and nothing helps dispel those fears like having a proven and capable second-in-command standing by. When selecting this important individual, it is important that you pick someone that understands how your business works and is a proven asset to its operation.
Automate, Automate and Automate
Buyers can be intimidated by taking control of a business. Having a proven second-in-command ready to assist is one smart step. Automating as much as possible is yet another prudent move. In short, you want your prospective new buyer to feel more confident about buying and operating your business.
Make a “Smooth Transition” List
As the seller, you have the critically important job of removing buyers’ fears. When you boost their confidence that they can successfully run your business, you increase the odds that your sale will go smoothly. Making a smooth transition list, which includes all the steps that you can take to improve the odds of a buyer being successful, is a smart investment of your time and effort.
A good transition list will include information about how to work with key customers, employees and vendors. You want to ensure that your customers, employees, and vendors understand that a sale will take place, but also understand that the process will be smooth and trouble-free. Whether large or small, take any steps that you can to show buyers that the transition will be well-received.
The average business owner has, in fact, never sold a business before, and is unprepared for this very complex process. Since the process of buying or selling a business is a very complicated one, they should strongly consider working with an experienced Business Broker or M&A Advisor who can help guide them through the process. Brokerage professionals are experts at buying and selling businesses. They understand what both buyers and sellers want and need. As a result, they can help you take the necessary steps to get your business ready to be sold.
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There is a considerable difference between determining the value of a privately-held company and a publicly-held company. Topping the list of considerable differences is the fact that privately-held companies do not have audited financial statements. Let’s look at how the owners of privately held companies should proceed in establishing a reasonable price for their company.
An audited financial statement is a costly endeavor. In order to avoid the cost, many companies simply don’t go public. Of course, it should be noted that publicly held companies, as the name indicates, reveal much more about their finances than their privately held counterparts do. Privately held companies are often seen as being more mysterious whereas publicly held companies are considered more “open.”
Business owners looking to sell their business will, of course, want to address the fact that their company lacks the public information associated with publicly held companies. Providing prospective buyers with as much verified information about your business as possible is one of the fastest and easiest ways to overcome buyers’ concerns. A smart move for any business owner is to work closely with their accountant to go over the numbers and create an easy-to-understand presentation for prospective buyers. This should serve to allay many of their concerns.
Working with your accountant is only the first step in providing prospective buyers with the information they need to feel comfortable. The second step is to work with an outside appraiser or other expert who can determine the value of your business. After that, you’ll want to decide on what your market price will be, as well as your “wish price,” or the price that you would ideally want. Third, you must know your “rock bottom” lowest price. You, as the owner, need to have this information as it will greatly facilitate and streamline all negotiations.
When buyers are reviewing materials and working to determine what price they are willing to pay, they will look at a wide range of factors including:
- Product diversity
- The size of your customer base
- Potential competitors in the area
- Competitors on the horizon
- Potential disruptions to your business, such as supplier problems
- The stability of your earnings
- The stability of the market
- Need for capital
Different buyers may place differing levels of emphasis on certain areas, but you can be certain that the aforementioned areas will be examined with care. The process is undoubtedly rather complex. This complexity underscores the need for professional assistance.
Ultimately, the market will determine the sale price of your business. For business owners, the first and most important step is to work closely with professionals such as accountants, appraisers, Business Brokers and M&A Advisors to establish the price of your privately held business. You can count on brokerage professionals to properly organize the facts and numbers that support that price.
BizBuySell’s Insight Report is filled with key statistics and information on a range of topics, including the labor shortage and hiring problems that many businesses currently face. Visit BizBuySell for more information about the findings that they recently reported for the third quarter of 2021. This website also offers an archive of past quarterly reports dating back to 2013.
The pandemic has “reshuffled the deck,” causing many to reassess their positions in corporate America. At this point in 2021, businesses are recovering, but the pandemic continues to play a role in business operations. 71% of business owners surveyed noted that they are facing higher costs than before the pandemic. Most respondents indicated that labor shortages have been having a significant impact on their businesses. There are issues both in hiring and retaining employees.
As the report explains, “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail spending in September increased 13.9% over the previous year. However, many businesses still struggle to attract or retain employees. In fact, 49% of owners say the labor shortage is impacting their business, while Business Brokers see it as the number one concern facing small businesses.”
Some of the problems related to the issue of labor shortage are not immediately obvious. As it has become common knowledge that employers are having trouble filling positions and are having to increase pay in order to attract new employees, existing employees are taking note. Since existing employees realize that new hires are being hired at higher wages, they are themselves often expecting raises. In turn, operational costs are going up for many businesses.
The fact is that the business owners are still selling and for a variety of reasons. BizBuySell’s statistics also indicate that of buyers who are planning to sell, 20% cite retirement as their main reason for selling, whereas 38% cite burnout as the primary reason.
According to the data collected by BizBuySell, transactions are up 17% over the last quarter, but are still 7% below pre-pandemic levels. However, it is expected that the number of transactions will grow to be well above their pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Buyers and sellers alike should remember that the pandemic has changed business and will continue to do so in the near future. In short, the business landscape continues to evolve.
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Many prospective business owners believe that it is impossible to purchase a business without collateral. The simple fact is that banks do expect collateral when making a loan. Since this is the core reality of the business world, it means that many who are eager to own a business will ultimately not be able to acquire one. However, while it is true that banks want collateral for loans, there are some ways that would-be business owners can still progress towards their goal of owning a business. In this article, we will explore a couple of the ways that a prospective business owner can still succeed.
First, we must make a key distinction: there is a difference between not having collateral and having no funds whatsoever. It is key to note that the larger the business you plan to buy, the more money you will ultimately need.
A great place to begin the process of buying a business without collateral is to talk to the SBA. The SBA’s 7 (a) program offers up incentives to banks to make loans to potential buyers. The SBA’s 7 (a) program is a simply fantastic program for those without collateral, as the program will cover a whopping seventy-five percent of the loan amount; this means that you, as the business owner, only need to have twenty-five percent of the price of the business. As though this program was exciting enough, the SBA’s 7 (a) program also allows prospective buyers to use money from investors or gifts towards the needed funds. Thanks to this great SBA program, you may qualify for a collateral free loan option.
A second option is seller financing. Seller financing is actually quite common in various forms. If you can find a motivated seller, such as one who is eager to retire, then seller financing becomes a potentially viable option. It may even be possible to combine seller financing with the SBA’s 7 (a) program for a powerful one-two punch. In this situation, a key part of the process is to find the right business and the right seller.
Working with a Business Broker or M&A Advisor can serve as a massive shortcut towards finding just such a business and seller. Brokerage professionals have databases of businesses for sale along with unique insights. A Business Broker or M&A Advisor may instantly know of a business that is a good fit for buyers without collateral.
Ultimately, prospective business owners shouldn’t be dissuaded by the challenges that a lack of collateral represents. It’s true that a lack of collateral is an obstacle, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. By teaming with an experienced brokerage professional, it is possible to find a path towards owning a business even without having collateral.
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Every business has an array of important legal documents. However, the partnership agreement holds a unique and important place in your business and its future.
The facts are that many people choose to go into business with close friends or family members, and often these personal relationships lead to a forgoing of the partnership agreement. Don’t go this route, as it would be a major mistake. As a business owner, you have a responsibility to protect, maintain, and grow your business.
A well-written partnership agreement can greatly reduce the number of potential problems that your business can face down the road. Establishing a legal framework for the operation of your business is a must.
A good partnership agreement is one in which every major aspect of how the partnership should run is outlined and spelled out in detail. At the end of the day, your partnership agreement should be viewed as a legal document that serves as a key guidepost for the operation of your business. Since a partnership agreement is a legal document, it is essential that you work with a lawyer to create a contract that is specific to your company.
This type of agreement is often a more complex agreement than many business owners would initially expect, and for good reason. Due to the wide scope that a partnership can entail, the partnership agreement can address many different points.
It is important to remember that partnership agreements are designed to minimize misunderstandings and outline how the business should function. Issues such as how money is distributed, what percentage each partner will receive, and which partners are to receive a draw, should all be covered.
However, a partnership agreement does more than simply address how money is to be distributed. It should also outline key operational factors such as what happens in the event of the death of a partner. If that were to occur, for example, who will be in charge of managerial work? Issues such as how business decisions should be made, and how conflicts are to be resolved, are additional important issues that should be addressed.
A good partnership agreement, one that strives to foresee as many problems as possible, serves to protect your business against future disruptions. Every successful operation or enterprise has rules by which it operates, and your business should be no exception.
People frequently dream of owning their own business, as ownership has a range of perks and benefits. However, it is important for prospective business owners to step back and consider if they are truly ready. In this article, we will explore three essential questions that you need to answer before taking the next step and buying a business.
Question One – Do You Have the Right Personality Type?
Truly not everyone has the right personality type to enjoy being a business owner, and it is best that you understand if you have the right set of traits before attempting a purchase. For example, you must be comfortable assuming a certain degree of risk.
Risk and business go hand-in-hand. This is true no matter how well your business may be operated. Not everyone is comfortable with this level of risk. Owning a business means that you are not only taking financial risks, but you are also giving up the stability that can come with just being an employee. Summed up, you must have the right mindset to operate a business.
Question Two – Are You Determined to Grow Your Income?
Owning and operating a business means that you’ll have to put in a great deal of work and potentially longer hours than you are accustomed to. This is typically necessary in order to build your business and increase your income. It is key that you ask yourself if you are ready for the amount of work that typically comes along with owning and operating a business. Statistics show that the longer you own a business, the more money you will generally earn.
Question Three – Are You Comfortable with Achieving More Control in Your Life?
At first glance, many people may instantly feel that they want more control over their professional lives. Yet in reality, this is not always the situation. Being a business owner means that you have far more control over your professional and business life. Most people will view this as a very good thing. Not having someone else control your fate is a good feeling, as you’ll be able to allocate your time as you see fit. As a business owner, you are not just part of a business, but instead are the person controlling, modeling. and guiding it. At the end of the day, there is nothing quite like being your own boss.
If you are ready for the amount of work and risk that goes along with owning a business, then it might be time to take the next step. One of the easiest ways to move forward, and begin the process of owning your own business, is to work with a Business Broker or M&A Advisor. These types of professionals have years of hands-on experience in the buying and selling of businesses and can help determine what kind of business is the best for you.
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Without a doubt, there are a multitude of factors that go into buying a business. Since there are so many variables involved, it is easy to potentially neglect some important aspects. In this article, we will explore some of the key areas that can be overlooked when buying a business. Three areas in particular warrant special attention.
#1 Legal Documents
Upon first glance, it might seem obvious that all legal documents should be evaluated; however, many buyers forget that all legal documents are important and should be given weight. In short, there is no such thing as an irrelevant legal document, as one never knows what problems could be lurking within any given legal document.
For this reason, you’ll want to carefully examine any legal document before making a purchase. The stakes are simply too high to not evaluate everything from trademarks and copyrights to leasing agreements.
#2 W-2 and 1099 Forms
It is important to note whether or not 1099 forms were given out instead of W-2 forms. The reason is that the IRS has very specific rules regarding these forms. The last thing that any buyer of a business wants is to sign on the dotted line only to discover that there are problems with the IRS. Taking ownership of a new business only to learn that there are IRS issues is something that should clearly be avoided.
#3 Retirement Plans
Just as it is vital to look over all financial documents, including W-2 and 1099 forms, the same holds true to evaluating retirement plans. You shouldn’t buy a business unless you know if the business’s qualified and non-qualified retirement plans are completely up to date with the Department of Labor. A failure to properly evaluate a given company’s retirement plans can be a very costly mistake.
Ultimately, there are many potential topics that can be overlooked when buying a business. In this article, we outlined three areas, but in reality, there are many more. This fact underscores the tremendous importance of working closely with a business broker, as well as other trusted professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, in order to properly vet any business that you are considering. One of the key steps in buying any business is to take every possible step to perform due diligence. No business is a flawless enterprise, but a seasoned business broker or M&A advisor can help you to successfully chart a path forward.
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At some point, every business owner will need to think about selling his or her business. This means you’ll need to be ready to overcome a range of obstacles, as the process of selling a business can be both confusing and time-consuming. This is especially true for those who have not gone through the process before. Let’s turn our attention to some of the key reasons why deals can fall apart.
Buyers, like sellers, enter the process with a variety of preconceived notions about how the process should work, as well as what they consider to be “a great deal.” The psychological factors involved in selling a business shouldn’t be overlooked.
Sellers need to understand the specific wants and desires of the buyer as well as their own psychology.
Even serious buyers may have highly unrealistic expectations regarding various aspects of a business, ranging from its price to its opportunities for future growth. In some cases, they may stall due to the fact they are not quite ready to buy a business and see no urgency in the matter.
Buyers can also be influenced by outside parties, whether advisors or friends and family. In short, sellers may discover that, for all practical purposes, buyers may actually be several people who are forming a collective opinion on issues regarding the business.
A seller’s own psychology can play a huge role in whether or not a business is successfully sold. Many sellers enter into the process without a full understanding of what is involved. This factor, of course, underscores the tremendous importance of working with professionals months, if not years, before you actually place your business on the market. These professionals should include an M&A Advisor or Business Broker.
Another major obstacle is that many sellers have unrealistic expectations about both price and the time frame in which their business can be sold. Sellers should enter the selling process with their eyes open and realistic expectations in place. Be sure to establish a fair price. It’s also important to understand that it may take a year or longer before a buyer is found.
Acts of Fate
Sellers should remember that there are many “acts of fate” that can disrupt a deal. A deal may seem like everything is moving along without problems, only to discover at the last minute that the buyer isn’t able to secure the needed funds as expected.
It is important for all parties involved to realize that until a deal is finalized, problems can still arise. In fact, they can arise from unexpected directions. But it is difficult to anticipate and spot every potential disruption. The complexity of selling a business is one of the main reasons why so many business owners opt to work with a brokerage professional.
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When it comes to finalizing deals, successful negotiations are at the heart of the matter. It only makes sense to think about how to improve your communication skills and to choose a Business Broker or M&A Advisor who is well versed in the art of negotiation.
Cultivating Win-Win Situations
Achieving a win-win for all parties is essential, and there are many components involved. It’s essential to understand what the other party is seeking and to help them also feel as though they succeeded in the deal.
One tried and tested strategy is to lead people through a series of “yeses” by starting with topics and points that can be agreed upon and then working forward. In the beginning of this negotiating strategy, the yeses may come from getting others to agree on what may be seen as trivial things. However, this step works to create the right climate for moving forward so that yeses can be obtained on more important issues.
Maintaining the Flow of Information
The flow of information is a critical aspect of the negotiation process. For this reason, it’s best for negotiations between buyers and sellers to go through their brokerage professionals, rather than conducted directly.
The simple fact is that otherwise there are too many variables and opportunities for something to go wrong, ranging from egos getting in the way to miscommunications. When you choose a qualified Business Broker or M&A Advisor, you’ll be able to place trust in that person to achieve optimal outcomes.
Understand One Another
It is important to keep the other side talking and show that you understand their perspective and the issues they may have. It is in this way that you can encourage cooperation and diffuse resistance in advance.
Ultimately, great negotiations stem from proper strategy, preparation, proper education, enhanced communication, and understanding the other party’s needs. When you and your Business Broker or M&A Advisor foster good communications with the other party, it will enhance the chances of achieving the kind of cooperation you are seeking. This in turn, dramatically increases the chances of achieving win-win outcomes.
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Recently, the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) released its Q2 survey report, The IBBA and M&A Source Market Pulse. This survey features feedback from an impressive 301 brokerage professionals across 44 states with 266 transactions taking place in the quarter. The report had numerous key findings that will be of interest to those looking to buy or sell a business.
The Emergence of Covid-Proof Businesses
One key fact of interest is that a full 25% of businesses are still operating below capacity due to the pandemic’s enduring impact. The Market Pulse survey concluded that a quarter of all small and medium sized businesses are either in a position where they are temporarily closed or are operating below capacity. On the other side of the equation, the survey noted that 29% of businesses have either emerged as “Covid proof” or have actually benefited from the pandemic.
For sellers with Covid resistant businesses, now could be an excellent time to sell. For buyers, there are potential deals to be had, especially for those who are willing to look beyond the current pandemic fueled environment and towards the future.
Why are Sellers Selling?
The report also noted that burnout is a major factor impacting deal activity. Retirement continues to be the leading reason why businesses are selling, but burnout has become a quickly rising secondary reason.
The top five reasons that sellers are putting their business on the market are: retirement (35%), burnout (27%), health (15%), tax increases (7%) and general Covid fatigue (7%). The pandemic is still likely playing a role in the minds of many business owners who are looking to sell, which means that buyers could find good deals due to the pandemic. It is important for buyers to note that as pandemic conditions improve, many of today’s good deals will likely vanish.
While the IBBA and M&A Source Market Pulse report noted that over the last year it took longer for deals to close in most sections, there were exceptions to that rule. For example, in the $5 million to $50 million sector, there has actually been an acceleration. On average, deals in that range are taking a mere ten months to close.
Top Buyers in 5 Sectors
Sellers will be pleased to hear that the report concludes that buyers are indeed active, noting that in the Main Street market, personal services were trending. In the lower middle market, it was manufacturing and construction/engineering that dominated industry transactions.
The top buyers in the $0 to $500,000 sector were first time buyers (39%), in the $500K to $1MM range, the top buyers were first time buyers (37%), and in the $1MM to $2MM range, entrepreneurs (29%) lead the way. For the $2MM to $5MM range, it was first time buyers (36%) and serial entrepreneurs (28%) who led the way. For the $5MM to $50MM range, PE firms seeking a platform deal (33%) were the most represented group of buyers. It is interesting to note that with the exception of the $5MM to $50MM range, first time buyers topped the list.
Buyers and sellers will be pleased to learn that the IBBA and M&A Source Market Pulse report clearly outlines just how much the climate has changed from 2020 to 2021. Today’s market conditions are different than they were a year ago. If you’re looking to purchase a business, you can still find great deals. Those looking to sell should find increased interest from an array of buyers, especially first-time buyers.