It's odd how things happen sometimes. Unknown to one another, a good friend and a valued client each called me this week to say that they'd made the decision to sell one of their respective companies. Both businesses are successful. Both are solid cash-flow generators. Both are growing in growing industries. The owners, however, have too many other irons in the fire to comfortably continue to manage these ventures. And since the businesses are profitable, they are marketable and potential profit-makers for both sellers. Wonderful. Right?
The fly in the ointment is that each of their companies is dependent upon THEM — the owner — to function and that's not one bit wonderful. As things stand, those businesses may actually lose $$ value when it's time to display the For Sale sign. Why? The current owners just don't have systems in place to allow someone else to walk in the door and hit the ground running. Yes, the purchaser would get tangible assets (buildings, equipment, etc.), but they would not get a business poised to quickly generate cash and recoup the purchase price. And, duh, THAT is what most buyers of businesses want from their investment.
Put Systems in Place
After swallowing hard, they each asked me if they could quickly solve this dilemma and protect their respective business' value. I just had to be honest and tell them that there's no quick fix to their far-from-unique circumstance—but there is a solution. First, they must put systems in place that clue other people (i.e., primarily their staffs) to what the heck it is they're trying to accomplish. I then assigned each of them strategic planning homework: What role does the staff play in the plan? What needs to happen and by when? What values do they want their companies to exhibit?
Basic strategic planning is not only crucial for organizations planning a long life, it is essential for businesses that are being groomed for sale. A business with drive, value, direction, and energy is much more attractive and viable than one without. You gotta do your homework.
If you want to sell your business—if you want to hand the reins of leadership over to someone else—what are they actually getting? A building and equipment or a business?
Copyright MMIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.