You’ve put countless hours into building a successful business. But when the time comes to leave it, what will you do?
Recent studies indicate that even founders of highly successful businesses find themselves facing a similar problem: they regret the way they handled leaving their businesses.
A successful exit takes planning and coordination. And when you plan ahead, you can also maximize your company’s value before you sell. Here’s how to do just that.
Recruit (and Keep) Top Talent
Employees are at the heart of every business. In order to make your business as attractive as possible to potential buyers, you should make every effort to make sure your most qualified employees stay on after a sale.
But how do you do that? The key is to incentivize staying on with your business. You might consider offering employees equity ownership in your company. Alternatively, you could offer bonuses tied to company profits. With these incentives in place, your employees will be as invested in your company’s success as you are.
Organize Your Books
If your business’s books have gotten jumbled and disorganized over the years, you aren’t alone. But cleaning up your books and making them easy to follow is essential if you want to make top dollar on your business sale.
One of the best ways to do this is to hire a professional bookkeeping team — professionals can not only fix issues with your books but also optimize them so your business makes a great impression on potential buyers.
Find a Niche
Certain sectors are saturated with businesses; if your company doesn’t have anything distinguishing it from its competitors, you’ll have trouble selling it for a high price. In some cases, you might have trouble selling it at all!
The easiest way to stand out to buyers is to find a niche to dominate. For example, maybe you specialize in computer repair but you’re the only company that will go to a customer’s home to do the repair. Once you find a way to stand out, emphasize that facet of your business to potential buyers.
Make Sure You Have a Clear Sales and Marketing Process
When a would-be buyer evaluates your business, they’ll want to see that sales and marketing will continue just fine without you. For instance, if lead generation is an important part of your business and how it works, you should be able to document the lead-generation process for a potential buyer.
It’s also wise to make sure that you don’t depend on a few customers for the majority of your sales. This type of situation is a risky one for buyers. After all, if one of your customers starts buying elsewhere, a significant portion of your sales will disappear. Before you sell, analyze your customer base to make sure it’s significantly diverse.
Clean Up Your Website
Having a nicer website might sound trivial, but it’s an important part of the impression you make on buyers. In many cases, your website is a buyer’s (or customer’s) introduction to your company. If your site is jumbled, hard to navigate, or rife with grammatical errors, you’ll come off as unprofessional.
On the other hand, if you have an aesthetically appealing, navigable website, you’ve already made your business look trustworthy. Your site also allows you to point out key business attributes — something potential buyers are certainly looking for.
Here are a few things to make sure you include on your website:
- How long you’ve been in business
- Why you do what you do
- What sets you apart from competitors
- How to contact you
If you don’t have existing web design skills, hiring a web designer is worth it. The one-time fee you pay will likely end up getting you a higher price when you do finally sell your business.
Handle Leaving Your Company the Right Way
Don’t be like the countless founders who came to regret the way they left their companies. Long before you’re ready to leave, it’s a good idea to start formulating a plan — and part of that plan is maximizing your business’s value.
It’s never too early to start looking to the future! Use this checklist to start developing your long-term plan.