I often call bullshit for the litany of reasons that people sprinkle on me for wanting to start a business; talking about wanting to make an impact on the world, a dent in the universe, change and better lives… Such a load of crap!
Spare me the soft, fluffy and sordid motivations behind starting a business, we all know that often, the biggest driving force behind that decision is money – cold, hard cash.
9 times out of 10, people predominantly want the wealth and power that comes with owning and running their own business; perhaps enjoying the journey along the way, while making a positive impact and supporting people in that venture of self-discovery.
When digging deeper, though, I find that quite a sizable portion of my clients have the goal of creating a business just to sell it down the line, cash out and then retire with millions in the bank.
These people often don’t go in with the right mindset to approach that in the best possible way – that’s where I come in.
Cut The Bullshit; Let’s Call A Spade, Well, A Spade.
By identifying that your mission is to ultimately work on creating a great business in order to sell it 3, 5 or even 7 years down the line, you’re already on the right track to discovering what it might take to find the right buyer.
A lot of people try to build a business with the sole intention to sell that business. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that and I will often push for my clients to find the right way to go about it, if that’s really what they want.
As a business coach and having successfully owned and run a few great businesses, myself; I know how to make a business run beautifully, but I also know a gorgeous opportunity when I see one.
Clients will often approach me and tell me that that’s what they want to do, the route that they want to take and I make them ask themselves a few important questions, “firstly, what does the buyer of your business, in five years, look like?”. You should ask yourself what kind of business or buyer will want to buy your business and what makes your business attractive to them.
It’s absolutely crucial to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and define what it is that you’re looking for if you were the one wanting to buy a business.
What To Flaunt In Your Business, So That You Find The Right Buyer
There are numerous factors to consider when looking at it from the buyer’s perspective and you should ensure those factors cross your mind in some way or the other, so that you make the most desirable and mouth-watering business, possible.
Most of my clients run businesses that provide the service of selling time, so the approach is fairly different to all enterprises, but many of these aspects can be applied to one that is product-based, as well.
To flaunt that sexy business of yours, you want to take note of a few very important things, such as brand value and how valuable or desirable your brand is; how deep your defensible moat is in protecting the business; the lifetime value and scale of your clients/customers; how stable your profits are; and the overall quality of your product and clients.
There’s plenty more to be discussed and it will turn your company from a typical, boring 6 to a desirable, gorgeous catch of a 10!
Starting with brand value: in the past, I was offered a very tempting amount by a large multinational to buy one of my product lines; interestingly enough they didn’t want product, stock, people, nor the assets – they simply just wanted the labels and the brand. It fascinated me that all they wanted was to take over the IP and this taught me the real value of the brand that you present to the world. The way your business looks, is presented and talked about is crucial in selling to a potential buyer.
In creating a product or service that is difficult to replicate or duplicate, one that is expensive for anyone to hop into the same market and to compete with; you begin to form an impenetrable moat around your business, so that it becomes even more desirable to the buyer. Vertical integration (do you own the service, product, supply chain, outlets?) will make that moat run even deeper, like a bottomless pit. The more vertical integration there is, the more stable you are and the more likely your business will sell.
Next, your clients become just as important: as long-standing customers that bring lifetime value and a stable income are golden-nuggets to the buyer. If your overheads are always covered and there’s a consistent flow of profit coming in, the likelihood of making that big sale increases drastically.
Do you have all of the necessary contracts in place? Contracts between you and your clients, between you and your suppliers and any other stake-holders in your business are all of value to the buyer. Ensure that all of those contracts are rigorous, so that no unforeseen circumstances rock-up and that nobody can just walk away with no obligations.
Take a stroll down memory lane – generally around the last 3-5 years – and determine how consistent your profits and revenues are, while identifying whether or not they are continuing to grow, or if they are in decline. The person that wants to buy your business is ideally looking for consistent (and consistently growing) profits. Having one great year and one shockingly bad year will make any potential buyer a nervous and reluctant wreck. It also doesn’t hurt if your revenues and profits are higher than that of your competitors.
Quality clients are also very attractive – do you supply large multinationals, do you supply large, comfortable and secure businesses? Or do you supply lots of bottom-feeders that tend to be inconsistent and unpredictable? These questions can make or break the attractiveness of the business. If you have consistent annuity-based clients with great reputations, you will tickle the buyer’s taste buds.
If you have intellectual property, or proprietary technology that’s patented and protected; a stable management team with trustworthy and reputable leaders that are suitable for advancement in your business; and a variable overhead, where the staff and employee-base is small enough to cut back on and find freelance work if crises like Covid might arise: you’re on the right track to finding the most suitable buyer for your business.
Most buyers also look at geographical reach and whether or not you dominate only one province, or city, or if your reach extends to the entire country or even a global customer-base; also, an excellent and high NPS (Net Promoter Score) that indicates how likely your clients, customers and staff are to refer you and whether or not they adore and believe in your business, willing to spread your brand like unrelenting Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It doesn’t end there, trust me.
Synergy also becomes important to the buyer, as potential savings are always a major benefit to them. If the buyer has the option to immediately save money by removing some of your costs, because they already have it built into their business, it becomes more desirable. An example might be that your business and theirs have a full-time server, where they can transfer everything to one of the two and cut back on some of the costs of operating both. This can also extend to particular staff that both businesses might have, like a bookkeeper that can be let go of, because they already have one, or in the delivery of products and distribution (instead of using two trucks, transport duties can be shifted to one).
Is your solution plug and play, that it solves the buyer’s needs so that they can plug your solution into their client-base with ease?; what is the level of automation in your processes and policies, so that there isn’t huge reliance on extra employees, that it is fully-functional and works fluidly without too much human interaction; and does your USP differentiate you in the market and is it very obvious to the potential buyer?
Finally, does your business sit in a ‘blue ocean’ marketplace? Is it in a clean environment that has plenty of opportunity to dominate that market or industry, or does it sit in a ‘red ocean’ market that is surrounded by constant competition, rivalry and challenges? It’s far more attractive if the buyer doesn’t have to deal with strong competitive forces and can dominate that area with far more ease.
Throw All Of Those Ingredients Into The Crucible
In taking all of those elements into deep consideration, you create a solid business that any buyer would leap at the opportunity to acquire it from you.
Your goal is to make it as attractive to the potential buyer as humanly possible. By paying such careful attention to what they would be looking for in a business, you’re able to create the most impressionable and desirable set of circumstances to sell.
Now, with you filling the shoes of a prospective buyer, are there any other important things to consider when looking to buy a business? What else would have you gunning for the opportunity to take over such a high-potential company?
I want you to walk away that much richer, having made the right decisions behind selling your business and for the highest possible amount. All of this with the peace of mind that both you and the buyer will be happy with the decision you’ve both made.
Who knows, maybe if you tick all of those boxes correctly, you might find that your business is a keeper and end up hogging it all to yourself.
If you’re looking to sell your business and are in need of an evaluation, based on what I’ve talked about, definitely hit me up. We can run through your goals in attracting and manifesting the most suitable buyer and what exactly it’ll take to sell, effortlessly.
I’m a phone or video call; a lunch or a quick beverage; a whatsapp or an email away from making your dreams a reality:
+2783 253 3339