Why The Sale of a Business Falls Apart

When the sale of a business falls apart, everyone involved in the transaction is disappointed – usually. Sometimes the reasons are insurmountable, and other times they are minuscule – even personal. Some intermediaries report a closure rate of 80 percent; others say it is even lower. Still other intermediaries claim to close 80 percent or higher. When asked how, this last group responded that they require a three-year exclusive engagement period to sell the company. The theory is that the longer an intermediary has to work on selling the company, the better the chance they will sell it. No one can argue with this theory. However, most sellers would find this unacceptable. In many cases, prior to placing anything in a written document, the parties have to agree on price and some basic terms. However, once these important issues are agreed upon, the devil may be in the details. For example, the Reps and Warranties may kill the deal. Other areas such as employment contracts, … [Read more...]

Family Businesses

  A recent study revealed that only about 28 percent of family businesses have developed a succession plan. Here are a few tips for family-owned businesses to ponder when considering selling the business: You may have to consider a lower price if maintaining jobs for family members is important. Make sure that your legal and accounting representatives have “deal” experience. Too many times, the outside advisers have been with the business since the beginning and just are not “deal” savvy. Keep in mind that family members who stay with the buyer(s) will most likely have to answer to new management, an outside board of directors and/or outside investors. All family members involved either as employees and/or investors in the business must be in agreement regarding the sale of the company. They must also be in agreement about price and terms of the sale. Confidentiality in the sale of a family business is a must. Meetings should be held off-site and selling … [Read more...]

What Are Buyers Looking for in a Company?

It has often been said that valuing companies is an art, not a science. When a buyer considers the purchase of a company, three main things are almost always considered when arriving at an offering price. Quality of the Earnings Some accountants and intermediaries are very aggressive when adding back, for example, what might be considered one-time or non-recurring expenses. A non-recurring expense could be: meeting some new governmental guidelines, paying for a major lawsuit, or adding a new roof on the factory. The argument is made that a non-recurring expense is a one-time drain on the “real” earnings of the company. Unfortunately, a non-recurring expense is almost an oxymoron. Almost every business has a non-recurring expense every year. By adding back these one-time expenses, the accountant or business appraiser is not allowing for the extraordinary expense (or expenses) that come up almost every year. These add-backs can inflate the earnings, resulting in a … [Read more...]

Top 10 Mistakes Made By Business Sellers

These are the top 10 mistakes made by business sellers: Neglecting the day-to-day running of their business with the reasoning that it will sell tomorrow. Starting off with too high a price with the assumption the price can always be reduced. Assuming that confidentiality is a given. Failing to plan ahead to sell / deciding to sell impulsively. Expecting that the buyers will only want to see last year’s P&L. Negotiating with only one buyer at a time and letting any other potential buyers wait their turn. Having to reduce the price because the sellers want to retire and are not willing to stay with the acquirer for any length of time. Not accepting that the structure of the deal is as important as the price. Trying to win every point of contention. Dragging out the deal and not accepting that time is of the essence. … [Read more...]

Why Sell Your Business?

Selling one’s business can be a traumatic and emotional event. In fact, “seller’s remorse” is one of the major reasons that deals don’t close. The business may have been in the family for generations. The owner may have built it from scratch or bought it and made it very successful. Considering the facts above, why would you sell your business? The answer is that there are times when selling is the best course to take. Here are a few of them: Burnout – This is a major reason, according to industry experts, why owners consider selling their business. The long hours and 7-day workweeks can take their toll. In other cases, the business may just become boring – the challenge gone. Losing interest in one’s business usually indicates that it is time to sell. No one to take over – Sons and daughters can be disenchanted with the family business by the time it’s their turn to take over. Family members often wish to move on to their own lives and careers. Personal problems – Events such … [Read more...]

Buying (or Selling) a Business

The following is some basic information for anyone considering buying a business. Is may also be of interest to anyone thinking of selling their business. The more information and knowledge both sides have about buying and selling a business, the easier the process will become. A Buyer Profile Here is a look at the make-up of the average individual buyer looking to replace a lost job or wanting to get out of an uncomfortable job situation. The chances are he is a male (however, more women are going into business for themselves, so this is rapidly changing). Almost 50 percent will have less than $100,000 in which to invest in the purchase of a business. More than 70 percent will have less than $250,000 to invest. In many cases the funds, or part of them, will come from personal savings followed by financial assistance from family members. He, or she, will never have owned a business before. Despite what he thinks he wants in the way of a business, he will most likely buy a … [Read more...]

Closing the Price Gap

  The deal is getting down to the wire, the price differential is close, but the parties are not yet in agreement. Following are some ideas that might get the ball rolling and help bring the parties together and close the price gap: Let the seller retain the real estate and rent it to the buyer, thus reducing the price. The same could be done for major pieces of equipment. Let the seller lease them to the buyer reducing the price. The lease should, however, like most leases, provide for a buyout at the end. Structure a royalty on sales rather than an earnout on gross margins or EBIT. Have the parties create a subsidiary for the fastest growing part of the business in which the buyer and seller share 50/50. Let the buyers acquire 70 percent of the business with the requirement that they purchase 10 percent more each year on the same multiple of EBIT as in the 70 percent sale. Arrange a consulting agreement with the seller to provide additional compensation to be paid … [Read more...]

The Deal is Almost Done – Or Is It?

The Letter of Intent has been signed by both buyer and seller and everything seems to be moving along just fine. It would seem that the deal is almost done. However, the due diligence process must now be completed. Due diligence is the process in which the buyer really decides to go forward with the deal, or, depending on what is discovered, to renegotiate the price – or even to withdraw from the deal. So, the deal may seem to be almost done, but it really isn’t – yet! It is important that both sides to the transaction understand just what is going to take place in the due diligence process. The importance of the due diligence process cannot be underestimated. Stanley Foster Reed in his book, The Art of M&A, wrote, “The basic function of due diligence is to assess the benefits and liabilities of a proposed acquisition by inquiring into all relevant aspects of the past, present, and predictable future of the business to be purchased.” Prior to the due diligence process, buyers … [Read more...]

Selling Your Business? Expect the Unexpected!

According to the experts, a business owner should lay the groundwork for selling at about the same time as he or she first opens the door for business.  Great advice, but it rarely happens.  Most sales of businesses are event-driven; i.e., an event or circumstance such as partnership problems, divorce, health, or just plain burn-out pushes the business owner into selling.  The business owner now becomes a seller without considering the unexpected issues that almost always occur.  Here are some questions that need answering before selling: How much is your time worth? Business owners have a business to run, and they are generally the mainstay of the operation.  If they are too busy trying to meet with prospective buyers, answering their questions and getting necessary data to them, the business may play second fiddle.  Buyers can be very demanding and ignoring them may not only kill a possible sale, but will also reduce the purchase price.  Using the services of a business broker is … [Read more...]

Selling a Business: How Long Does It Take?

A recent survey revealed that the average time between listing and sale was 9 months. Why does selling a business take so long? Price and terms are the biggest reasons.  Not over-pricing the business at the beginning of the sales process is a big plus, as well as structuring the transaction to include a reasonable down payment with the seller carrying the balance. Having all of the necessary information right from the beginning can also greatly reduce the time period from listing to closing. Being prepared for the information a buyer may want to review or having the answers available for the questions a buyer may want answered is also key. Here is the basic information that a prospective acquirer will want to review: Copies of the financials for the past three years. A copy of the lease and any assignments of the lease from previous sales. A list of the fixtures and equipment that will be included in the sale. Note: If something is not included, it is best to remove it … [Read more...]