10 Secrets to Selling a Business and Making it Attractive to Buyers & Investors
Before you decide to sell a business, you need to assess its readiness. How attractive will your business be to qualified and interested buyers? Will anyone want it enough to pay a price that meets your business sale and financial goals?
STRATEGIES FOR FAMILIES WORTH $5 MILLION TO $500 MILLION
7 Secrets To High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning
The insights you’ll discover from our published book will help you integrate a variety of wealth management tools with financial planning, providing guidance for your future security alongside complex financial strategies, so your human and financial capital will both flourish.
Clients frequently share with us how the knowledge gained from this book helped provide them tremendous clarity, shattering industry-pitched ideologies, while offering insight and direction in making such important financial decisions.
We get a lot of business owners calling our office asking about this.But many of them are more interested in talking about how to invest and protect their payoff from taxes and risk, once the business sale is finalized. For that, you can begin by reading the 7 Secrets to High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning, an exclusive guide written for anyone with high or ultra high net worth between $5 million and $500 million.
But from our perspective, the investment question is usually not the biggest concern on the table. We can easily take care of that for you afterward.
The bigger challenge that almost always reveals itself once we get into the details of their business is, how attractive is their business going to be to a buyer? Can we find enough serious business investors, buyers, or potential merger candidates to drum up a sweet deal?
There are some things a buyer just wants, and you can’t control them. For example, your business must be in an industry they are interested in. Your company must be of a size that’s within their wheelhouse. It must be the right timing for them to buy a business of that size. And it must fit with their investment strategy.
None of that is within your control.
But here’s the good news:
A whole lot more IS in your control than not. So let’s look at ten attributes of your business that are within your control. When these ten qualities are in place and looking good, your business will be very attractive to the right buyers.
1. Good Marketing and Financial Data
There are several types of data you will want in order to make your business as attractive as possible to buyers and investors.
As you tell the story of your business to prospective buyers, you will probably start with the financial data. This includes things like your balance sheet, P&L or income statement, and cash flow statement. These statements give the broad picture of what’s happening with big categories like assets, liabilities, revenue, and expenses.
Clear, easy to understand, and accurate financial data is non-negotiable if you want your business to be attractive to buyers.
The most optimal data will show at least three years of sustained growth, or at the very least, three years of solid and consistent revenue generation. Have any data that looks less attractive? Be ready to explain what caused it.
Process Data and Metrics
Are you tracking things like your various lead sources? Can you diagram out the conversion process for your funnels? Do you know your lifetime customer value, average order size, retention rates, referral rates – any other metrics that reveal the functional health of your business and its processes?
These sorts of metrics prove the worth and value of your business, and demonstrate much more detail than the broader financial documents listed earlier. When a buyer asks why your profits are up, down, growing, or holding steady, these metrics are how you will answer them.
It’s one thing to have marketing assets. It’s another to know and be able to show on paper how effective they are.
Examples of marketing data include:
• Landing page conversion data
• Email automation data like CTRs and conversions
• Direct mail conversion data
• Google Ads and Facebook data
• SEO website traffic data
You want whatever data demonstrates the effectiveness of your marketing assets. Most valuable of all would be testing data that shows how you have worked at improving these various marketing assets over time.
2. Growth Potential
Business growth potential could come from a number of sources.
You might have a proven track record of new product or service development. You’re coming out with new stuff consistently, and your customers respond to it. This tells a buyer they can rely on your business to continue innovating and producing, and not getting too reliant on past successes.
Another source of growth potential can be shown by continually improving your marketing strategies. Are you always testing, trying new things, working on new methods of lead generation, launching new campaigns?
Continuous marketing improvement is a good indicator of future growth potential.
3. Well-Functioning Workplace
Buyers and investors want to know that when they complete their purchase and take over, your company won’t fall apart into division and dysfunction.
Can you demonstrate what you’ve done to develop a healthy workplace culture? Do you have data that backs it up, like employee satisfaction surveys, anecdotes, data showing low turnover, and salary growth?
Do you have an effective management and leadership team in place? A good hiring track record?Business buyers and investors want to see a business with excellent leadership that isn’t all dependent on you.
4. Clear Processes with Documentation
Most businesses require a great variety of tasks and processes to be completed and managed in order to function. But sometimes, when a long-time employee retires or departs, you realize you forgot something – asking them to create documentation showing how to do their job. Then, the new person comes in and has to learn it all from scratch.
Your business will be very attractive to a buyer if you can show them detailed manuals on key procedures and policies. It’s even better if they have been regularly updated.
5. A Vision and a Plan to Achieve It
Where is your company going? What are you building toward? Do you have a plan for how to get there?
A buyer will love it if they can be shown your company’s long term goals, and the plans to make them happen. To make an extra good impression, break down the plan into chunks, using one month plans, one year plans, and five year plans, each with goals and tasks worked into each time frame.
Visions are inspiring.
But a vision without a plan is just a wish.
The more fleshed out your plans, the more attractive your business to a buyer.
6. Diversified Revenue Streams
Just like you don’t want your business operations to be overly dependent on one person, you also don’t want your revenue to be overly dependent on one source. This invites too much risk, and will scare away otherwise great buyers.
There are many ways this type of risk can show up:
• Too much revenue from one client
• Too much revenue from one product
• Too much revenue or too many leads from one marketing channel or strategy
• Too dependent on a single location
• Too dependent on a particular government regulation you are taking advantage of
• Haven’t faced any serious competition yet, especially if it’s a new business with a new idea
Make sure you are drawing revenue, customers, and leads from a wide variety of sources, and your business will be much more attractive to investors.
7. Loyal Customer Base
Do you spend almost all your marketing finding new customers, or do you have a healthy supply of existing, returning, and recurring customers? Recurring revenue is always attractive to business buyers because it supports the underlying health of the company.
Work to build up and solidify your customer loyalty and the metrics that show how well you’ve succeeded.
8. Large and Responsive Email List
An email list is one of the most valuable assets a business can have. One reason is because email marketing consistently earns the highest ROI of all marketing channels.
So if you have an active and profitable email list, and that list is large and continually grows because you’ve put effective processes in place, this is a very attractive business asset.
A buyer wants to acquire or merge with a business in your industry, and he has two profitable companies he’s looking at. Company A has an email list with 2 million names, and consistently uses it to generate revenue. Company B has an email list with just a few thousand because they haven’t made that a priority and are relying on new website traffic, TV ads, foot traffic like in a shopping mall, and other sources.
Both companies may be doing well right now, but Company A has an asset that can be monetized in all sorts of ways and for many years to come, and Company B does not. More buyers will be drawn to Company A than B.
9. Differentiation Makes Businesses Attractive to Buyers
This one is hard to achieve, but if you can manage to differentiate your company from the competition in any significant way, you can use that to increase the perceived value of your business to a buyer.
Differentiation can be earned in a number of ways:
• New or innovative use of technology
• Product delivered in a unique way
• Solve a problem that no one else has solved
• Customer targeting – specializing in a narrower niche
• Ease of doing business
• Customer engagement
Each business has to figure out what’s attainable for them, given their industry, resources, products, and prior track record.
Probably the most famous differentiation was when Dominos Pizza used to offer guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less, or the pizza was free. That’s a service differentiator. It had nothing to do with the quality of the food, the friendliness of the service, the price, or anything else. But it earned them massive growth for the first couple decades of their existence.
Find a way to make your business stand out from every other competitor, and your company will be more attractive to buyers and investors.
10. Customer Satisfaction
Lastly, how happy are your customers, and how do you know?
This is about more than customer retention and recurring revenue. Do you ask them how well your products work and how they felt about your customer service? Do you use Net Promoter Score emails, which use a one-question survey asking customers to rate their experience from 1 to 10? Do you record calls to your customer service team, and track the number that are successfully resolved?
Depending on the business, there are a variety of ways customer satisfaction can be measured. But you need to find a way to do it, because then you can show your prospective buyers that your company is solving problems for people and delivering great service.
Preparing to Sell Your Business for 8, 9, or 10 Figures?
For a successful business sale worth over $10 million and that will result in you becoming an ultra high net worth individual, you will need a qualified team of experts working to give you the best possible outcomes.
We use the word ‘outcomes’ because this is about much more than the sales price. You want a deal with favorable terms, the right timeline, and a plan for how to maximize your final payout and not lose too much of it to taxes.
A financial advisor plays a critical role in delivering the best possible outcomes for the business seller.
Pillar Wealth Management specializes in helping ultra high net worth businesses get sold. We have served as the financial advisor on dozens of successful business sale teams alongside other experts in law, accounting, and banking.
If you’re looking into selling your business, and you expect a price in the range of 8, 9, or 10 figures, get on our Calendly schedule for a free call and let’s discuss your situation.
To be 100% transparent, we published this page to help filter through the mass influx of prospects, who come to us through our website and referrals, to gain only a handful of the right types of new clients who wish to engage us.
We enjoy working with high net worth and ultra-high net worth investors and families who want what we call financial serenity – the feeling that comes when you know your finances and the lifestyle you desire have been secured for life, and that you don’t have to do any of the work to manage and maintain it because you hired a trusted advisor to take care of everything.
You see, our goal is to only accept 17 new clients this year. Clients who have from $5 million to $500 million in liquid investable assets to entrust us with on a 100% fee basis. No commissions and no products for sale.
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