Deciding to sell your business is most likely the biggest decision you will ever make as a business owner.
Are you thinking of selling?
Careful thought and planning is vital if you want to successfully sell your business. Making your business as attractive as possible to allure prospective acquirers is critical.
What do you want to achieve?
Gaining clarity on what you want before starting the exit process is paramount to the transaction. You should have an idea of whom you would like to purchase your life’s work. Just anybody is not going to cut it.
Motivation to remain involved and experience the growth investors can finance?
Preserve the culture?
Maintain family heritage?
Is now the right time to exit?
If you are unable to answer these questions now, then start to think about what you want. If you know the answers to the above, then you are on the right path.
Can you take a break?
Day to day I speak with business owners heavily involved with their companies. If you are relied upon, it is time to reduce this dependence!
Freight, logistics and transport providers are people businesses, so step back and make sure you have experienced management in place that can shoulder responsibility for these key relationships. This will only enhance the value of the company.
Early planning significantly increases the chances of a successful outcome. Preparation puts the seller in a strong position. Think like an outsider, identifying key risk areas and take steps to ensure that these risks are mitigated. Have ammunition prepared in order to receive a favourable price for your business.
Being able to provide accurate, timely financials is imperative to a smooth transaction. Preparing forecasts and making comparisons is a good place to start. This goes hand in hand with having a strong finance director who has a clear understanding of methods to improve financial management. If confidence can be secured by investors the transaction is less likely to slip up during financial due diligence.
Keeping financials up to scratch assists the process but portraying the story of your business helps the acquirer understand the peaks and troughs you have experienced. Most importantly, it helps them understand the plan for the future. The underlying focus of your ‘story’ should be what separates you from your competitors and what drives your success.
During the sale process, it is critical to keep the business running on its trajectory. Transactions are complex and can be highly emotional, but you should aim to minimise the impact on your employees and ensure that key client relationships are maintained. This is hard, but important to ensure that value is solidified for the potential purchaser.
You need to understand the business’s value drivers, industry benchmarks and market trends to ascertain what you can expect prior to the process beginning. Many factors affect the value of your business that are not in your control. You should note this and be prepared.
When you are ready to transition, you should be confident everything is prepared to allow the transaction to progress. If you have thought about the above points, the rest should take care of itself.
David Roberts, M&A Consultant, Freight Mergers