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What to Consider Before Handing Your Business Over to the Next Generation

No business owner will be able to stay with their business indefinitely. For this reason, you will either have to eventually sell or hand your business off to the next generation. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of handing a business over to a family member and how you can make sure that the business is in optimal shape when the time comes. 

If you want your business to be prepared for succession and the next generation, you’ll want to repair any key problems before handing it over. Some experts advise putting your focus on evolving the business. One key recommendation is to focus on sales, marketing and distribution in the coming years, so that troublesome issues, such as sales plateaus, are properly addressed and hopefully circumvented.

Also, you’ll want to consider boosting communication with key employees so that current management understands where all the employees stand. Skilled and motivated employees are rare commodities, and they are absolutely critical to the future success of any business. For any business owner considering handing over their business to their children, employee skill level, motivation and commitment will be essential to the success of the business during a potential transition period.

Some people see their business as a form of job creation for their children, instead of being what it truly is, a business. For a wide variety of reasons, it may not be feasible for your descendants and relatives to take over the business. They may not be capable of the demands or they may simply have no interest. But if you are able to successfully pass it down, you’ll want to optimize their chances for success. 

Just as buying or selling a business involves preparation, the same holds true for handing the baton to the next generation. There is no replacement for advance planning. The sooner that you begin thinking about, and taking tangible steps to prepare for the next generation taking over the reins, the better off everyone will be.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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What Can Negatively Impact Your Chances of a Sale?

The last thing that any business owner wants is for a sale to fall through over something that was completely preventable. The good news is that with proper preparation and planning, these mistakes can be minimized or avoided altogether.

Workforce Issues

One of the top mistakes that business owners can make is allowing for an unstable workforce. It should come as no surprise that prospective buyers want to buy a business that produces consistent results. A key part of business stability resides in a stable workforce. Having a great product or service and then knowing that you have good dependable people to deliver those goods and services is essential. Buyers will be looking for this when they make their buying decisions. 

Faulty Recordkeeping

You can be very certain that any serious buyer will want to examine your books for the last several years. It is only prudent to expect that a prospective buyer will look at every part of your financials, including everything from your operating costs to your sales history. Proper recordkeeping will help convey the message that you are a responsible business owner, and this in turn, will increase the perceived value of your business.

Delayed Improvements

Delaying key investments and improvements may sound good for the foreseeable future, but it can be costly in the long run. It also points to a lack of vision and planning on the part of business owners. If you’d like to maintain your business’ value for when it is time to sell, you must constantly invest in your future. This will help your business thrive today and grow in the future. 

Another mistake that business owners can make is to fail to innovate. In a sense, this failure often goes hand-in-hand with a failure to invest in the business. A business that is not innovative is one that may be seen as a business that is not well positioned for the future. 

Of course, every industry is different. For this reason, it is important that business owners evaluate their business, the competition, and what opportunities exist if they embrace a constant stream of innovation. It is key to note that innovation is not always about making grandiose and costly moves. Quite often, innovation is the result of adopting a different mindset and finding small ways to boost customer or client satisfaction and reach new customers.

Failing to Work with Professionals 

Business brokers and M&A advisors understand all of these variables. They understand the mistakes that business owners can make when preparing to sell their business. Just as importantly, they understand the steps necessary to circumvent them. Working with a brokerage professional well before putting your business up for sale will dramatically increase your odds of a successful outcome. You’ll also want a solid team of other professionals including an experienced attorney and accountant.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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What You Need to Know About the Confidential Business Review

There are many different strategies that will likely be deployed during the sales process. In this article, we’ll focus on how to utilize the Confidential Business Review CBR and/or CIM. Frequently, the Confidential Business Review is also referred to as a Confidential Information Memorandum. But no matter what name is used, the CBR/CIM provides a pathway for obtaining the highest selling price possible.

It is important to understand that the CBR/CIM must be factual at its core. Yet simultaneously, the CBR/CIM can function as a promotional and sales tool. The CBR/CIM can be integrated with an Executive Summary in the document, which allows prospective buyers a way to learn more about the business.

Through the Executive Summary section of the CBR/CIM, prospective buyers can quickly gain insight into the key highlights of a given company. The outline should include key factors, such as an overview of the ownership and management structure as well as a description of both the business and financial highlights. The company’s products and services should also be covered in detail. Importantly, the CBR/CIM should include why the business is for sale and some information about the market.

A well-constructed Executive Summary helps to both guide and motivate a prospective buyer so that they become motivated to learn more and take action. The Executive Summary should grab hold of anyone who reads the high points and illuminate why your business is valuable.

Many variables can be included in the CBR/CIM. Everything from the history of your company and what it does for the markets it serves and the products it creates can all be found in this document. Other topics such as the current state of competition, your key customers, management, your growth strategies, various financial information and other important variables can all be included in a CBR/CIM.

The creation of a coherent and persuasive CBR/CIM, one that motivates a prospective buyer or their representative to take action, is an artform. Much like it is prudent to invest both time and resources to the creation of an excellent confidentiality agreement, the same holds true for the creation of a CBR/CIM.

Business Brokers and M&A Advisors are experts in the creation of key sales documents, such as the CBR/CIM. One of the quickest and easiest ways to create an excellent CBR/CIM is to work with an experienced Business Broker as they understand exactly what should be in an offering memorandum. This document may very well be the first important contact point with a prospective buyer. For this reason, it should be designed to work to your benefit in a variety of ways.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Making the Most Out of Your Confidentiality Agreements

Great deals can quickly be derailed when confidentiality agreements are not properly used and observed. The number of headaches that can occur due to a failure to follow the requirements of a confidentiality agreement are rather extensive. Whether it is employees discovering the potential sale, to the loss of key customers or even alerting a competitor that your business is for sale, there is no end to the headaches that can arise when a confidentiality agreement is not in place or adhered to. Simply stated, adhering to confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of the entire sales process.

Thanks to a well-constructed confidentiality agreement, sellers can enjoy protection from the disclosure of critical and confidential information during the sales process. While confidential agreements may have originated as a way to safeguard against prospective buyers revealing information about a seller’s business, these agreements have evolved to consider numerous seller concerns. 

A good confidentiality agreement helps to protect all sorts of important details that may be revealed during the sales process including trade secrets and proprietary information. It can also outline the fact that a prospective buyer will not attempt to hire away key employees.

Considering the importance of a confidentiality agreement, it is well worth the time to create an agreement that covers all key areas. Everything from how confidential information should be shared to how breaches in confidentiality should be remedied must be addressed by a confidentiality agreement. It is not prudent to cut corners to save money and time when drafting a confidentiality agreement, as it is likely one of the most important business documents your business will ever create.

Just as no two businesses are the same, this fact holds true for the content of important legal documents. The sale of every business is a unique situation, and for that reason every confidentiality agreement must be tailored to fit the precise circumstances of the business.

Business brokers and M&A advisors are experts in the buying and selling of businesses. Part of that expertise extends to the creation and execution of confidentiality agreements, which are also sometimes referred to as non-disclosure agreements. 

At the end of the day, the last thing any business owner wants is for key information regarding their business to be revealed. Working closely with a brokerage professional is an important way for sellers to safeguard their confidentiality throughout the process.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Discovering How to Leverage SBA Lending Options

For most entrepreneurs, finding the money to launch their first business stands as a tremendous challenge. The good news is that getting a loan through the Small Business Association (SBA) is turning out to be a viable option for many business owners.

The SBA doesn’t directly provide loans itself, but instead, works to facilitate lending. SBA assistance can even extend into the realm of micro-lending. It is very important for prospective buyers to realize that since SBA loans are government backed, lenders are typically much more willing to offer a prospective buyer a loan. Impressively, the SBA will cover seventy-five percent of a lender’s loss in the event that a loan ultimately goes into default.

Many entrepreneurs find the issue of collateral to be a challenging one. Once again, the SBA can be of assistance. In some cases, an SBA loan may bypass the need for collateral altogether.

Overall, SBA loans do in fact have a good deal in common with other types of loans. Prospective buyers should have all of their financial documentation ready and well organized. In short, prospective buyers should have all their information organized as they would when dealing with a bank without SBA involvement.

Not every prospective buyer will qualify, so the first step that should be taken is for a would-be business owner to check and verify that they do indeed qualify for a loan. The next step for a prospective buyer is to find a lender and complete all necessary SBA forms.

There are several factors that determine eligibility for an SBA loan. Here are the two top factors that are important for qualifying for a loan 

  1. The business must be based in the United States, the business must be a for-profit venture. 
  2. Prospective buyers should expect that their application will take two to three months to process once it has been submitted.

All too often, people assume that they simply won’t qualify for an SBA loan. The statistical data tells a different story. Every year, thousands of people are approved for SBA loans. It’s important to keep in mind that these loans are not just for those looking to buy a business. The SBA also helps existing businesses that are looking to expand.

For the end of 2023, the SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman announced that this year, the SBA delivered $50 billion and this included capital, disaster relief and small business support. Guzman stated, “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to simplifying and addressing persistent inequities in accessing capital to ensure all small business owners can get the funding needed to grow and create jobs for our economy. In Fiscal Year 2023, the SBA transformed its lending and investment programs and expanded its capital partners to deliver nearly $50 billion in startup, growth, and recovery capital, as well as surety bonds, including more small business lending to people of color, women, and veterans.” [1]

Business brokers and M&A advisors are experts in working with the SBA. Entrepreneurs looking to buy a business can benefit enormously from their years of SBA experience. Working with a business broker or M&A advisor can help you streamline the SBA process and dramatically increase your chances of success.

[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sba-announces-biden-harris-administration-154000629.html

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Employees and the Long-Term Success of Your Business

There can be no doubt that the quality of your employees will directly impact the quality of your business and its long-term value. Employee quality and the success of your business are intrinsically linked. Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs learn this lesson too late, and their businesses suffer as a consequence. Employees who do not feel invested in a business and its long-term growth and success can damage your business on a daily basis. 

The quality of employees stands as one of the most important factors that entrepreneurs should consider before buying a business. With this fact in mind, it is critically important that business owners do everything possible to put together a great team. 

It’s important to keep in mind that your employees can be either an asset or a detriment to the success of your business. A dedicated and knowledgeable team of employees will help boost not only a business’s bottom line, but also its value when it comes time to sell.

Along similar lines, if you’re considering buying a business, you should take a careful look at how much work the current owner is responsible for and how well they are supported by the staff. If the owner is shouldering too much work and not relying on capable employees, then owner burnout can be a real possibility. Remember that the amount of work the current owner is doing could be what you’re facing down the line.

It is also important to consider the loyalty of employees and how likely it is that they may quit and join a competitor. Potential buyers should carefully evaluate employees and how they operate before signing on the dotted line.

At the end of the day, most businesses are only as strong as their employees and management. It should come as no surprise that employees who don’t feel invested and are just doing the “bare minimum” to not get fired are not the kind of employees that help build a successful business. 

A successful business is one with longevity, and the future of a business depends on employees that care about the business. In doing so, they will work to ensure customer or client satisfaction and loyalty. There are many variables that you must consider before deciding to buy a business, but buyers should never overlook the strength of employees.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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How Can You Find the Ideal Buyer for Your Business?

In the day-to-day routine of running your business, it is easy to forget that eventually the day will come when you need to sell. The last thing that any business owner wishes to discover is that they are ready to exit, but they are hopelessly underprepared. One of the key ways to prevent this from happening is to prepare for the sale of your business as far in the future as possible. 

1. Always Look Ahead to the Future

Many experts consider not having an exit strategy to be a risky endeavor. 

So, what are some of the most important steps that business owners need in preparation for selling their business? The first step is thinking about your exit strategy on the day you found your company. 

If you build your business while keeping an eye on the fact that you will one day be seeking to be acquired, then you will adjust your plans and strategies accordingly. All of this means understanding the market and knowing exactly what prospective buyers want from a business. In other words, the sale of your business should be built into its very foundation.

2. Think About Prospective Buyers 

There are a variety of reasons why acquisitions occur. For example, sometimes it is an entrepreneur looking for opportunities, and sometimes it is a business in the same industry that is looking to expand. The more you can learn about the motivating factors that cause individuals and entities to buy businesses, the better positioned you will be. 

3. Constantly Network 

Another good idea is to constantly network and make connections. The more people you know, the better off you will be. You may be running and developing your business for decades. During this time, get to know as many people in the industry as possible. 

While it may be necessary to modify the exit strategy in the future, having one in place serves to create an invaluable framework for when the time comes to sell. A savvy business owner will have a well thought out exit strategy in place at the very beginning.   

When you work with a business broker or M&A advisor, you will also benefit from their professional connections and years of networking with buyers. Selling a business is all about preparation, making connections, and finding the right advisors and partners.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Key Steps for All First Time Buyers

Are you a first-time business buyer? If so, it is critical that you work with a business broker or M&A advisor. If you’ve never purchased a business before, you simply can’t anticipate all that is involved in buying a business. 

Buying a business is vastly different than buying a home, which is typically the largest purchase that most first-time business buyers have made. Sometimes buyers assume that since they have made large investments before, they will have a leg up in the business buying process. However, they typically quickly find out that they still need a great deal of assistance to navigate the complexities of the business buying process.  

Business brokerage professionals know the process, the lay of the land, and the players involved. Additionally, business brokers and M&A advisors know where the traps and pitfalls are located. When it comes time to buy a business, all prospective business buyers can benefit from a guide. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps that are involved in purchasing a business. 

Sign a Confidentiality Agreement

Prospective business buyers should always be ready to sign a confidentiality agreement. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the seller. They have invested a great deal of their lives in their business and allowing someone to peak behind the curtain can be a stressful prospect. Signing a confidentiality agreement is an initial sign of good faith.

Investigate the Business

Next, you’ll want to gather a good deal of information about the business. Once more, working with a business broker or M&A advisor is a prudent move as business brokers understand what kind of information should be acquired. They have an understanding of how to uncover important information that might otherwise go unseen.

Armed with as much relevant information as possible and an experienced brokerage professional, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the business in question. With the right information and experienced professionals at your side, you can be sure that you are making a wise investment. 

Make Your Decision 

The next step is to either decide to make an offer or pass on the business. You and your business brokerage professional will carefully evaluate a range of information including financial statements and tax returns. When choosing to make an offer, it is important that all key details are clearly laid out in writing, and this includes contingencies. 

Finding the right business for you, in part, means determining what kind of business you truly want to own. The good news is that business brokers and M&A advisors are experts in every point examined in this article, and they can even assist prospective business buyers with determining what type of business is a good fit. The sooner you begin charting out a plan, the greater your chances of finding the right business for your unique needs, preferences, and specifications.

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What Are the Financial Considerations of Seller Financing?

Deciding how the purchase of a business should be structured is no small task. If you are planning to help finance the sale of your business, you’ll want to tackle this issue very early in the sale process. When it comes to small business sales, a high percentage of deals include some seller financing. Here are some of the most important things you’ll want to think about beforehand.

Interest Rates

The simple fact is that interest rates cannot be overlooked. In an era where interest rates continue to climb, the future rates are far from certain. That’s why it is critically important to factor in interest rates to your buying decision. In the event that you find a buyer, you’ll need to decide what is the acceptable interest rate for a seller financed sale.

The Buyer and Debt

It is also quite important to know whether or not a buyer will assume any long-term debt or secured debt. Early in the process, you’ll want to address this topic and come to a conclusion regarding the optimal path forward. If there are favorable terms, this usually means a higher sales price.

Taxes

There will, of course, be tax implications to the sale. It is only prudent to work well in advance with a tax professional, to understand every tax implication. You should gain an understanding of how the taxes will work long before a sale takes place. You’ll also want to talk to an experienced attorney to understand the legal implications of seller financing.

Without a doubt, there will be tax implications that affect your sale. That’s why you’ll need to understand what those implications are and what it will mean for you.

Additional Costs

Just as taxes can throw a curveball into the mix, this fact holds true for additional costs. You’ll want to consider if there are any unsecured creditors that still need to be paid in full. Closing costs are another commonly overlooked issue. It is prudent to determine whether or not the seller plans on paying for part of the closing costs. Closing costs, just like taxes, can be sizable and should not be overlooked.

Knowing Your Lowest Price

Before walking into any negotiation, you need to know what is your lowest price. It can take months or even years for a business to sell. You need to know what your lowest price is for when the day comes that an offer is made. 

Working with a business broker or M&A advisor is a savvy way to address all of these issues well in advance. There are many factors that go into the sale of a business and having an experienced professional by your side is simply invaluable.

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Prepare for Your Exit When You Launch Your Business

You’ll often hear business brokers and M&A advisors say that the right time to prepare for your exit is when you first launch. By that they mean that it’s important to always be thinking about how to optimize your business so that it is streamlined for an eventual sale.  Some of the savviest entrepreneurs and business owners are also thinking about partnering with those who will ultimately want to buy their businesses, even if the prospective sale of their business is many years away. It is easy to see why so many top-level entrepreneurs feel this way, as it is prudent to plan for the outcome you want from the very beginning.

It Pays to Think Ahead

The simple fact is that in most endeavors in life, it pays to think ahead. Selling a business is no exception. The rate of businesses that are being acquired is rising significantly. In a recent study at the University of Maryland, researchers found that in the last three decades the rate of venture capital-backed startups that have been acquired has soared from 10% to 90%.[1]

Anyone building a business should build that company in such a way that it will be appealing for acquisition down the line. Thinking about who the ideal buyer might be will help you to properly shape your business operations.  

Many owners have an eye on businesses that work to serve similar markets. You may also want to think about how your product and your business model work to address an overlooked need within the existing customer base of that larger entity. If you can clearly show that acquiring your company will instantly lead to new business, then much of the battle is already won. By finding customers that a business is overlooking, you have positioned your business to be an attractive target for acquisition. 

Have a Success Oriented Strategy from Day One

In short, company founders must understand their customer, their product, and why a customer will want and need what they offer. Being able to attract the right talent is also important. If a successful staff is firmly in place, your business will be far more attractive to potential buyers.

Understanding from day one the path of your startup and where you want to go will make all the difference in your success. It is important to remember that it is much easier to build an acquisition friendly company from day one than it is to retrofit your existing company years down the road.  

1. The Great Startup Sellout and the Rise of Oligopoly

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