Three Ways to Attract Business Buyers
Are you thinking about selling your business? Here’s the good news: The mergers and acquisitions marketplace is on the rebound. With the gap between seller- and buyer pricing expectations beginning to close, entrepreneurs are now asking, “Should I start thinking again about selling my business?”
More than 25 years ago, I founded a firm specializing in identifying buyers and handling business negotiations. In my experience, when it comes to selling a business, entrepreneurs worry that they’ll either sell too soon or wait and miss another opportunity to exit their business at maximum price. I always tell my clients to run their businesses in line with their eventual goals to sell. Whether their timeline is 90 or 900 days, they will be increasing value to potential buyers should they come knocking, which can translate into improved profits in the meantime.
Here are three more ways entrepreneurs can make their businesses more attractive for potential buyers:
Understand your buyer universe. If you took your business to market,
who would your potential buyers be? The more plentiful, the higher your
chances of commanding a desirable bid on the business. Understanding who your potential buyers are today allows you to take measures to expand that universe, if necessary. For example, my client, who services the commercial construction industry, is considering expanding into residential, which would double potential buyers of the business.
Think like a potential buyer. If you were considering buying your company, what would motivate you mto pay more? Conversely, what would make you ask whether the selling price is too high? Key value drivers you can focus on today to impact buyer perception tomorrow include your management team, client base and proprietary products and services.
Retain key employees. Losing critical employees during a sale can
be a deal breaker because they are often integral to the new owner’s
success. Keep employees in place for future buyers through employment agreements and stock options. Leading up to the consideration of a sale, maintain confidentiality to help deter panic and sudden turnover, and help the buyer keep employees on board post-sale.
It may take you anywhere from several months to several years to sell your business. In the meantime, I’ve learned that the key to the perfect sale is to preserve and build value so you can maximize price when that buyer comes knocking.