Even in an active business sale market, business owners need to understand the time, and the expertise required when selling a business – if you want to achieve a successful outcome. Maximizing business value, personal financial planning, vetting potential buyers, minimizing tax, retaining key employees – these are only some of the areas that you need to address. Which is why you shouldn’t go it alone.
We’ve been talking about the importance of working with experienced professionals who will keep your best interests at the forefront of the exit planning process. While the number of deals your advisors have successfully navigated is important, another benefit of working with professionals who have experience helping owners sell their businesses is that they’re likely to have a network of professionals you might need.
Of course, if you have existing advisors you want to keep in place, like your CPA or wealth advisor, they should be integrated into your overall exit planning team.
Here's an example of how we worked with one business during the exit planning process, integrated their existing advisors, and referred additional professionals who were needed to round out the team.
We were engaged by a growing professional services firm with around 25 employees. There was one majority owner and three minority shareholders, who the owner had given stock to a number of years earlier.
We worked with the owners on comprehensive exit planning to determine all of their options for the business, considering internal and external sale options, in addition to making sure the business and owners were financially prepared. We conducted our proprietary six-phase planning process, and the owners thought that an internal transition was probably going to be the best option for the business and everyone involved.
As we worked through the planning process, we were able to work with the owners’ existing CPA and attorney, and refer a personal financial advisor to help with wealth and estate planning. Things were moving along smoothly until one of the minority shareholders suddenly passed away. Soon after, another minority shareholder decided to leave the company.
Things changed dramatically in a matter of months.
We had to quickly adjust the plan. As we always say: Exit planning is a process not a one-time event. And because life is so unpredictable, as part of building your exit plan, you will need to take unforeseen, potential contingencies into account.
At this point, the remaining owners determined that an external sale was now the best option for the business and themselves. This was clearly a big decision that will affect the owners and their families, not to mention the management team and employees so everything had to be considered.
Fortunately, amid all the changes with the leadership team and the exit plan, the business continues to do extremely well. We made introductions to business brokers/investment bankers who could assist with bringing the business to market and worked with the owner to select the best representative to help them sell the business. We interviewed three bankers and chose the one we believed would help them best position the business for sale and ultimately get them the most value for the business.
Throughout the planning process, the owners made the business as appealing as possible to potential buyers by cleaning up their books, developing consistent internal processes and procedures, maximizing business value, and ensuring that the business would continue to grow at a steady rate.
As with many companies during COVID, employee attrition had become an issue – and something that the team saw as a potential red flag for buyers. The client developed a full-time position to ensure employee satisfaction and cut their attrition rate by two-thirds.
Along with the wealth advisor we brought to the team, we were able to provide financial and estate planning expertise to the owners which included implementing trusts and minimizing estate taxes for their heirs.
The business is in the process of being sold – and the owners will get everything they deserve.
Because they were so proactive with their exit planning and building their exit planning dream team in advance, the owners had time to consider all of their options, react when things didn’t go as planned, and prepare themselves and the business for sale – basically an orchestrated exit.
If you’d like more info, we’ve also recently written about which types of advisors you’ll likely need to sell your business, how to put together your advisory dream team, and how much they might cost.
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!