You can’t underestimate the complexity, the time needed, and the assistance required for a successful outcome when you’re trying to sell your business. This is why we advocate that business owners educate themselves on all the aspects of exit planning and work with experienced professionals who will keep their best interests at the forefront.
It’s likely that transitioning out of your business will be the biggest financial transaction of your life, and you want to make sure that you have a team on your side who is working to make it as successful as possible. Experienced professionals will give you the best possible advice to make your transition a successful one.
Here is an overview of the players you need on your business transition team and the varied roles they play during the exit process:
Business Broker or Investment Banker (for larger businesses)
If you’re selling externally, you’ll want to work with a business intermediary who has experience marketing and selling businesses like yours. This individual will assess your business and determine a likely range of selling prices. In addition, he or she will prepare a confidential marketing piece, invite and help qualify prospective buyers, and work with you to close the transaction.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
A CPA can estimate the taxes that will be due on your transaction and can help structure your deal to avoid negative tax consequences. In addition, they can assist with preparing and pulling together the necessary financial and tax documents that will be required by potential buyers. You definitely want to work with a CPA who has experience doing business transition transactions.
Your attorney will be instrumental in the deal negotiations and will draft or edit sale agreements, contracts, leases, employee retention, or other agreements that may be needed. It is essential that you work with an experienced attorney to protect you both prior to and after the transaction.
Personal Wealth Advisor
Most owners are dependent on their business sale proceeds to fund their post-transition lifestyle. Before you sell your business, be sure to engage with your personal wealth advisor to update your financial plan and determine how much you need to net after taxes. Your wealth advisor will also coordinate your estate and contingency plans to be sure you and your family are protected if anything should happen to you before or after your business sale.
Business Transition Advisor
A business transition advisor can help you determine what your goals are, what your business is worth and whether to sell to an outside or inside buyer. In addition, they will stay with you until the business is transferred to ensure that your goals are achieved to the greatest extent possible. If necessary, they will recommend other seasoned, specialized advisors you may need through his or her extensive professional network.
Think of a business transition planner as the quarterback of your transition team. The business transition planner’s skill keeps all of your advisors working together in a timely and efficient manner while focused on your goals and objectives.
Three tips for finding the right advisors:
Do Your Due Diligence
Many of the advisors you meet will be equally qualified, so to make an informed decision, you should fully understand their roles, services, compensation, and focus. If you need a team leader, are they willing and able to take on this role? Verifying their experience and training and seeking (and contacting) references are integral to due diligence on any professional; this should be part of your process for enlisting the services of these specialized advisors. Remember, you and your advisors professional share the responsibility for a successful outcome.
Keep Communication Open
Imagine going to your doctor and revealing only some of your symptoms while expecting them to give you a correct diagnosis and treatment. Your business sale is a similarly individualized plan, and the integrity of the result will be determined not only by the planning professional’s talent and experience but also by your candor and openness. Communication and teamwork between you and your advisors are of the utmost importance.
Maintain Honesty, Integrity, and Confidentiality
Your exit planner is responsible for seeking and involving other professionals who have expertise in areas outside their own specialty. Of course, keeping the entire process confidential is always of great importance. As with all your advisors, a professional (regardless of whether their discipline requires licensing) should be working within a framework of honesty and integrity, with your best interests and goals—not their own—as the focal point.
The key to a successful sale is a combination of preparation, planning, and having the best team in place to assist you at every step of your exit planning journey.
This list of advisors is not all inclusive and may vary depending on type of transaction and specific situation. You want to make sure you have assembled a team of advisors that will work collaboratively and in a holistic, integrated, comprehensive manner to assist you in achieving your desired outcome. It takes a well-rounded team of talented exit professionals to successfully sell a business. And, you want to enlist the assistance of trained, qualified advisors with the tools, resources, and objectivity who can assist you with this process.
If you need help assembling your exit planning dream team, please contact us. We have a network of trusted advisors across the country. Let us help you find the right advisor for your specific situation!