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Assembling the Right Transaction Team

As you consider selling your company, there are many different topics that an owner needs to evaluate to effectively assess whether you are ready to sell your company.  In evaluating whether to sell, an owner’s time and energy typically is focused internally towards evaluating whether the appropriate internal management team exists, whether the business is financially ready for a transition, and among other topics, the impact a sale or merger may have on existing employees. In connection with conducting this due diligence, the owner or management team should also focus their energies externally.  Once it is determined that a company wants to explore the possibility of a transition or sale, the business should build a transaction team of outside professionals to assist with the various internal questions that come up in this process.

The Key Players

While not all transactions are cookie-cutter situations, there are external professionals that are typically retained to assist a company during a sale process.  Most transitions involve:

  • a corporate lawyer to document the transaction;
  • an investment banker or business broker that focuses on assisting the company to maximize the value at sale;
  • an accountant, financial advisor or valuation expert with the proper certifications; and
  • an emerging trend towards retaining an exit planning advisor.

If you are contemplating an ESOP transaction for your company and employees, there are additional or specialized professionals that have a seat at the table as well.  In addition to the professionals listed above, an ESOP transaction will also involve an ERISA lawyer, an appraisal firm that has a background in being involved in ESOP transactions.  Additionally, the company, as opposed to the owner, will appoint a trustee which is typically either a bank or trust company that specializes in ESOPs.

Building the Transaction Team

Identifying the types of professionals that you need to execute your vision is half the battle.  The other half of the battle is ensuring your outside advisors are aligned with a common goal. When everyone who works for your company is aligned with your vision and values then it positively impacts the image and the results the business can achieve.

To attract a team of advisors, an owner should ask for recommendations, interview prospective professionals and assess which professionals are focused on the owner’s needs and goals. Part of this process is spending time with the potential members of your outside advisory team, evaluating their personality, acumen, experience, and ability.  There should be shared values that you hold dear, such as integrity, growth and excellence.  However, there also needs to be a balance to the characteristics, talents and skills that your advisory board brings to the table in order to find the right synergy for the transaction.

For instance, the transaction lawyer is an intricate player.  In this instance, while a company may have a go-to outside corporate counsel, many CEOs find that their long term business lawyer may not be ideal to assist with a transaction.  Typically, the business lawyer may be too close to the company and the founders having worked with them for a long time. A deal transaction lawyer, on the other hand, can evaluate the deal from a truly outside perspective, and is typically focused on the deal as an expert in corporate sale transactions.  This can, in turn, ultimately expedite the overall process.  Also, CEOs tend to understand that while they have to be the decision maker, they need an honest appraisal of the business, its worth, and where value can be maximized.  This is why many companies work with investment bankers and business brokers.  These professionals are interested in seeing a deal come to fruition, while also maintaining a perspective on the real value of the company in the market place.

In the selection process, it is also a good idea to put professionals on the team that worked well together before. Typically, in these scenarios, the personalities mesh and it is easier to create a solid transaction team, and ultimately a deal may be more readily obtained.  Your newly created transaction team should be familiar with each other, aligned in the approach, strategy and vision for the prospective transition you’re planning for the company.  The team should also be aligned with your decisions and you feel open and comfortable sharing your strategic plan. The team also should feel comfortable sharing honest feedback across team members.

Once completed, you will have a team that can be led towards the end-goal, a sale of the business.  The transaction team did not form immediately; it might have taken time to accumulate the team. However, these advisors share your daily focus and goals, and assist you on a professional level, plan for your long term success. Ultimately, the team is knowledgeable about your business operations, financial management, and willing to work along-side your management team, anticipating your timely needs instead of you having to wait for them to

As you contemplate the sale of your company, it is important to remember that the process is not always immediate. It can take years to plan a transition or sale and for it to materialize as you focus on maximizing the value of the business you have built.  Continuing the evaluation process as you move through this transition may lead to removing or adding new members to the team to maximize the value of your transaction.  As the CEO, continuously evaluating your team will assist you in ensuring you actualize your vision and you succeed in reaching your goals.

For more in-depth information on selling your business, check out this webinar from Financial Poise.

About Randy Joy Epstein

Randy Joy Epstein's transformational strategic growth career spans over 15 years advising businesses on strategic plans, financial and team operations. Randy Joy is a sought after speaker, CEO curator and has been quoted in articles in WorkstyleMagazine, Forbes.com, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Randy Joy is the founder and producer of TEDxTimesSquare, New York’s premier speaking event…

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