If you are thinking of selling your business… How is your Exit Plan?
A business should be a constant ball of energy moving in different directions as the economy changes, new tools and innovations come to the market, the stress and strain from competitors and the ever changing demands of customers. This is what gets an entrepreneur out of bed every morning; the chance to do something different, learn something new, to see the rewards of hard work, to plant new ideas and watch them grow or to help someone do something they thought they may not be able to do.
If the entrepreneur loses the hunger to learn, be the vision and leader of the business, it’s time for a change. Because a business is so dynamic, it requires leadership. If this doesn’t happen it will shrivel and die. Capital, time and energy must keep moving otherwise it will fade away.
If the entrepreneur leading the business recognizes it is good business to plan for a change of ownership and therefore handle the matter in a proactive way, the chances of success are so much greater and so are the chances of getting the highest price possible. There is a very simple reason for this. The buyer of a business looks at and includes many things in their decision making process. However, there are basically two ingredients, the cash flow the business generates and its potential to generate more cash flow in the future. If either one is missing, the buyer will require a discount on the purchase price of the business. If both are missing, it will be an extremely difficult business to sell.
Each exit plan will differ for each entrepreneur. My golden rule is that when selling your business, put your feet in the shoes of the other party and see things from their perspective. This is true for the buyer who has no history of the enterprise, has to put down a sum of money they may never see again, has to take the emotional risk of not only being good enough to own and operate the business as well as the current owner, but learn as much as possible as quickly as possible or suffer the embarrassment of it all crashing down on them.