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business valuation

‘Housekeeping’ Tips to Maximize Business Value

Making Improvements that Will Benefit the Seller and the Buyer

As you start thinking about selling your business you should also think about how you might make some improvements to the business to maximize business value to a buyer. Identify the company’s shortfalls and consider fixing them. Look at your business through a prospective buyer’s eyes, and ask:

  • Can this business operate independently of the owner?
  • Does the business have a unique differentiator that sets it apart from all others in the industry?
  • Is the business generating consistent sustainable profits?
  • Is the customer base diversified and capable of further business development?
  • Are the systems and processes considered first-rate for the industry?
  • Is the right team in place for growing the business?
  • What is the strength of the management team?
  • Are there proprietary assets that have future value?
  • Does the business have contracts with key stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees, other owners?
  • Is there a business plan in effect that demonstrates the business’ potential?

By determining how your business stacks up against the questions on this list, you will be able to identify areas that may you may want to begin to work on. The key concept is an understanding of the company’s value drivers. Perhaps the key driver is the history of the normalized earnings and cash flow the business has generated. Is it stable with consistent growth?

Cash Flow for Buyers

For the most part, cash flow is what buyers are buying, unless an owner is fortunate enough to have some unique product or other offering. Often, a strategic buyer might only be interested in the business sales volume, or the specific sales territory footprint.

The second driver is the earnings multiple. This is determined by the buyer’s assessment of risk. Hence, the key here is for the business owner to work on those things that reduce buyer risk. The lower the assessed risk, the higher the multiplier will be, which results in a higher business value.

Reducing Risk

As a business owner, how do you reduce this risk? Make sure your business has few, if any, dependencies. These could include dependencies on a single customer, supplier, employee or on you, the owner. Buyer’s risk can also be lowered by referring to the questions above, and having as many ‘built-ins’ as you can; a strong management team to take over, a motivated and fully engaged team, strong culture, lean and efficient processes and systems, etc.

Monetizing the business’ value to meet desired retirement lifestyle needs, is every business owner’s hope and desire. To successfully plot the path to build the required value, one should begin by obtaining a formal business valuation.

[Editor’s Note: For more information on this topic, please check out our “What’s it Worth? Valuing a Business for Sale” webinar, or “How to Select the Right Valuation Expert” webinar. Read more about Business Transition and Exit Planning. You may also like “Legal and Practical Advice-Roadmap to Selling Your Business.”]

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an article first published on April 3, 2015

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About Terence Shepherd

Terry is a Principal with ROCG which is an international professional service and consulting firm with offices throughout North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. ROCG is the only international firm specializing in the areas of business transition strategy, finance and operations for privately owned and emerging growth enterprises. Terry Shepherd has advised small…

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