It’s not too late to make 2019 the year you sell your business. Prices are rising. The market is favorable, and 60% of owners assert they are confident they could get a favorable price if they put their business on the market today.
This optimism has fueled a deal-making frenzy. But it has also caused some owners to jump into the M&A market unprepared. You need a clear exit strategy and a plan for maximizing value. Here are three things sellers who want to sell this year must do.
The 2019 market offers some exceptional deals. But a strong market never lasts forever. GDP may slow in 2020, which is also an election year. That can mean a sluggish market and fewer sales. Some owners think they can continue riding the tide of growing values forever, but the truth is the best time to sell might be right now.
Baby Boomers are also exiting their businesses at record rates. They’re expected to sell or transfer nearly $10 trillion in assets over the next decade or two. That could drive more sales during an even sluggish market. So while it’s important to sell now if you can and want to, don’t rush the process. There are more opportunities down the road as Baby Boomers head into retirement. A rushed sale is often a less valuable sale.
Invest in Your Company
Many owners decide to sell and then quit doing the daily grunt work of running their company. Don’t fall into this trap, because doing so can cause your business to rapidly lose value. When you sell, it becomes more important than ever to continually invest in the business. Take a proactive approach, with a keen eye to factors that motivate sellers to choose your business instead of the competition. Some simple upgrades—more marketing efforts, better equipment, selling off obsolete inventory, recruiting the strongest possible team—can drive value and make your business an enticing option for the right seller.
Get Your Financials Under Control
Interests rates are rising along with labor cots and overhead. That can reverse gains in revenue. Small businesses are increasingly struggling to compete with larger companies to retain exceptional employees. In 2018 alone, labor costs increased by almost a percent.
With so many competitive businesses available, buyers expect a premium return on their investment. They’re undertaking an exhaustive due diligence process to evaluate potential profitability of each company they consider. Even small revenue declines can be a red flag, so you must have a good explanation for variation over time. Buyers do not like risk.
You need consistent reports and clean financials. A clear profit and loss sheet for at least 3-5 years reassures buyers that you’re on top of financials. It also can encourage them to place more faith in your forecasting.
For many owners, a strong and favorable market offers plenty of motivation to sell. It’s difficult, though, to predict what the future holds. This year will likely be pivotal, and could affect the M&A landscape for the coming years. Owners who invest in their businesses, who act quickly and decisively, and who rely on expert input are better positioned to profitably sell their companies.