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How to Lose $200 Million

You’ll never know the ideal time to sell your company — but in many cases, it’s when someone’s willing to buy it.

Rand Fishkin, the bestselling author of Lost & Founder, learned this lesson the hard way when his company Moz received a $25 million dollar offer from HubSpot despite only expecting to do around $8 million in sales that year. HubSpot was offering three times forward revenue for Moz and Fishkin thought four times revenue would have been more reasonable. HubSpot’s bid included some cash and a hefty amount of their stock. With strong conviction that his company was worth more, Fishkin declined the offer.

HubSpot shares would go on to grow in value more than tenfold, while Fishkin struggled to manage his company after an $18 million injection of venture capital. Fishkin grappled with depression and ended up stepping down from Moz. During our interview, Fishkin reveals that today, his liquid net worth is around $800,000 – a far cry from the roughly $200 million he stood to gain had he accepted HubSpot’s offer.

What follows is a candid and heart-wrenching tale of ‘the one that got away’ told by Fishkin with humility and grace. You’ll learn:

The best time to sell is when someone’s buying
The early mistake that landed Fishkin in nearly half a million dollars of debt
The one mistake to avoid when approaching venture funding
The math behind venture capital and why it’s almost always a mistake to seek it out

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Being ready to sell when someone wants to buy your company requires that you have a business that’s ready to sell. That’s one of the main benefits of going through the 12 steps of The Value Builder System™. Complete Step 1 for free right now by getting your Value Builder Score.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

 

5 Ways To Package Your Service

If you’re a service provider, it can be difficult to separate the service from the provider. Your customers might demand you, which means you can’t scale your business beyond the number of hours you’re willing to work.

In the absence of a point of differentiation, offering generic services leads consumers to evaluate the people doing the work. Referring to your service in a generic way e.g. “graphic design services”, or “lawn care services”, means you’re lumping yourself in with the other providers of the same service.  A quick scan of your LinkedIn profile will reveal that you are likely an expert in your industry which means prospective customers will often demand you, rather than your underlings.

The secret to overcoming this dilemma is to “productize” your service. This involves marketing your service as is if it were a thing. When people start buying the thing, rather than the people providing it, you can grow well beyond the hours in your day.

Proctor & Gamble is the granddaddy of product marketing, so grab a tube of Crest toothpaste and follow their process for productizing your service:

  1. Name it

Crest is the brand name and it is always written in the same font. Having a consistent name avoids the generic, commoditized category label of “toothpaste.” Do you have a catchy name for your service?

  1. Write instructions for use

Crest gives customers instructions for best teeth cleaning results. If you want your service to feel more like a product, include instructions for getting the most out of your service.

  1. Provide a caution

The Crest bottle tells you that the product is “harmful if swallowed.” Provide a caution label or a set of “terms and conditions” to explain things to avoid when using your service.

  1. Barcode it

The barcode includes pricing information. Publishing a price and being consistent will make your service seem more like a product.

  1. Copyright it

P&G includes a very small symbol on its bottle to make it clear the company is protecting its ideas. Do you Trademark the terms you use to describe your service?

Productizing your service is the first step to separating your service from its provider and the key to getting your service company to run without you.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

3 Strategic Reasons Big Companies Buy Small Ones

Ottawa-based phone company Versature was acquired by net2phone in the fall of last year. In this episode of Built to Sell Radio, you’ll hear Versature co-founder Jonathan Moody describe:

• The surprising downside of offering too many things
• The impact your geographic location can have on the value of your company
• How Moody and his partners survived due diligence

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One of Versature’s strengths was its recurring revenue. Not only did it give the company a stable income, but even banks recognized it as a key driver of company value when Moody and his partners sought new funding. Module 5 of The Value Builder System™ explores how you can incorporate recurring revenue into your business. Get started for free right now by completing Module 1.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

What Kind of Buyers are You Most Likely to Meet?

Selling a business can be an exciting and rather lucrative time.  But going through the sales process means embracing the notion that you’ll have to be very prepared for whatever might be thrown your way.  A key aspect of preparing to sell your business is to know what types of buyers you’re likely to encounter.

It is only logical to anticipate the types of buyers you may be dealing with in advance.  That will allow you to plan how you might potentially work with them.  Remember that each buyer comes with his or her own unique desires and objectives.

The Business Competitor

Competitors buy each other all the time.  Frequently, when a business is looking to sell, the owner or owners quickly turn to their competitors.  Turning to one’s competitors when it comes time to sell makes a good deal of sense; after all, they are in the same business, understand the industry and are more likely to understand the value of what you are offering.  With these prospective buyers, a great confidentiality agreement is, of course, a must.

Selling to Family Members

It is not at all uncommon for businesses to be sold to family members.  These buyers are often very familiar with the business, the industry as a whole and understand what is involved in owning and operating the business in question.

Often, family members are prepared and groomed years in advance to take over the operation of a business.  These are all pluses.  But there are some potential pitfalls as well, such as family members not having enough cash to buy or not being fully prepared to run the business.

Foreign Buyers

Quite often, foreign buyers have the funds needed to buy an existing business.  However, foreign buyers may face a range of difficulties including overcoming a language barrier and licensing issues.

Individual Buyers

Dealing with an individual buyer has many benefits.  These buyers tend to be a little older, ranging in age from 40 to 60.  For these buyers, owning a business is often a dream come true, and they frequently bring with them real-world corporate experience.  Dealing with a single buyer can also help expedite the process as you will have fewer individuals to negotiate with.

Financial Buyers

Financial buyers are often the most complicated buyers to deal with, as they can come with a long list of demands.  That stated, you should not dismiss financial buyers.  But just remember that they want to buy your business strictly for financial reasons.  That means they are not looking for a job or fulfilling a lifelong dream.  For financial buyers, the key point is that your business is generating adequate revenue.

Synergistic Buyers

A synergistic buyer can be an excellent candidate.  The reason that synergistic buyers can be such a good fit is that their business in some way complements yours.  In other words, there is a synergy between the businesses.  The main idea here is that by combining the two businesses they will reap a range of benefits, such as access to a new and very much aligned customer base.

Different types of buyers bring different types of issues to the table.  The good news is that business brokers know what different types of buyers are likely to expect out of a deal.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

12587279/BigStock.com

What Kind of Buyers are You Most Likely to Meet?

Selling a business can be an exciting and rather lucrative time. But going through the sales process means embracing the notion that you’ll have to be very prepared for whatever might be thrown your way. A key aspect of preparing to sell your business is to know what types of buyers you’re likely to encounter.

It is only logical to anticipate the types of buyers you may be dealing with in advance. That will allow you to plan how you might potentially work with them. Remember that each buyer comes with his or her own unique desires and objectives.

The Business Competitor

Competitors buy each other all the time. Frequently, when a business is looking to sell, the owner or owners quickly turn to their competitors. Turning to one’s competitors when it comes time to sell makes a good deal of sense; after all, they are in the same business, understand the industry and are more likely to understand the value of what you are offering. With these prospective buyers, a great confidentiality agreement is, of course, a must.

Selling to Family Members

It is not at all uncommon for businesses to be sold to family members. These buyers are often very familiar with the business, the industry as a whole and understand what is involved in owning and operating the business in question.

Often, family members are prepared and groomed years in advance to take over the operation of a business. These are all pluses. But there are some potential pitfalls as well, such as family members not having enough cash to buy or not being fully prepared to run the business.

Foreign Buyers

Quite often, foreign buyers have the funds needed to buy an existing business. However, foreign buyers may face a range of difficulties including overcoming a language barrier and licensing issues.

Individual Buyers

Dealing with an individual buyer has many benefits. These buyers tend to be a little older, ranging in age from 40 to 60. For these buyers, owning a business is often a dream come true, and they frequently bring with them real-world corporate experience. Dealing with a single buyer can also help expedite the process as you will have fewer individuals to negotiate with.

Financial Buyers

Financial buyers are often the most complicated buyers to deal with, as they can come with a long list of demands. That stated you should not dismiss financial buyers. But just remember that they want to buy your business strictly for financial reasons. That means they are not looking for a job or fulfilling a lifelong dream. For financial buyers, the key point is that your business is generating adequate revenue.

Synergistic Buyers

A synergistic buyer can be an excellent candidate. The reason that synergistic buyers can be such a good fit is that their business in some way complements yours. In other words, there is a synergy between the businesses. The main idea here is that by combining the two businesses they will reap a range of benefits, such as access to a new and very much aligned customer base.

Different types of buyers bring different types of issues to the table. The good news is that business brokers know what different types of buyers are likely to expect out of a deal.

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Whether you are looking to exit your privately held business, represent an acquisition-minded corporation, value your business, or are personally interested in owning or building value in your own company or franchise, Colonial Business Brokerage offers the professional services that successfully bring buyers and sellers together.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

12587279/BigStock.com

Two Exiting Tips From One Of The Top 40 Under 40

Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera has started 12 businesses, six of which he has exited. His exits have ranged in value from the $6 million he got for one of his recent start-ups to $1.3 billion when he sold Wind Mobile. He did it by following two key tips.

  1. Understand what kind of company you are running

Lacavera has owned hyper-growth unicorns and lifestyle businesses and urges entrepreneurs to be clear about their long-term prospects. Lacavera started a business supplying hotels with internet access and understood the company would be a good cash generator, but would never sell for a mint. He ran the business for almost two decades and used the cash it generated to fund various other ventures. Recently, he finally sold the business, which was generating $1.5 million in pre-tax profit, for $8 million—a relatively modest 5 times earnings, which was fine by Lacavera, because it had served its purpose of funding other companies along the way.

  1. The role of CEO and owner are not the same

Lacavera encourages entrepreneurs to separate the role of CEO and business owner. Even though they may be the same person, they have different functions and, at some point, your business may be better served by separating the two roles. Entrepreneurs who are comfortable handing the reins to a professional manager may do better in the long run than those who need to control everything.

Lacavera had great success, which is visible in the fact that he has won just about every business award there is, including 2010 CEO of the Year, Top 40 Under 40, Deloitte Technology Fast 50, and Canada’s Fastest Growing Company. One of the top secrets to Lacavera’s success — knowing when to bring in a CEO to replace himself in any of his ventures.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

 

How to Get One Million More from PwC

Can a small, 30 employee team make a successful transition to the corporate environment of one of the Big Four auditors (and stay on-board)? Find out  what happens post-sale on today’s candid episode.

Ann Bennett was founder of Applied Information Services (AIS) – a first-of-its-kind, PC-based software company that processed K-1s (internal tax forms given to investors in partnerships). AIS was not an accounting firm, giving them a competitive advantage to powerhouses like PricewaterhouseCoopers –whose K-1 department was plateauing, still operating on traditional mainframes.

PwC realized they needed to evolve and offer the flexibility and responsiveness that only AIS’ software provided – so they approached Bennett. The two parties would eventually settle on a price (only after Bennett went back to ask for one million more), but it was the price she would later pay that has her reflecting on this story 20 years later.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

 

 

How To Avoid Disappointment When It’s Time To Cash Out

How do you avoid not being disappointed with the money you make from the sale of your company?

Perhaps you’ve heard that companies like yours trade using an industry rule of thumb or that companies of your size sell within a specific range, and you want to get at least what your peers have received.

While these metrics can be useful for tax planning or working out a messy divorce, they may not be the best ways to value your company.

The Only Valuation Technique That Really Matters

In reality, the only valuation technique that will ensure you are happy with your exit is for you to place your own value on your business. What’s it worth to you to keep it? What is all your sweat equity worth? Only when you’re clear on that will you ensure your satisfaction with the sale of your business.

Take Hank Goddard as an example. He started a software company called Mainspring Healthcare Solutions back in 2007. They provided a way for hospitals to keep track of their equipment and evolved into a slick application that hospital workers used to order supplies.

Goddard and his partner started the business by asking some friends and family to invest. The business grew, but there were challenges along the way: Goddard had to fire his entire management team in the early days, product issues needed to be solved and operational issues needed to be resolved.

At times, it was a grind, so when it came time to sell in 2016, Goddard reasoned that he had invested more than half of his career in Mainspring and he wanted to get paid for his life’s work. He also wanted to ensure his original investors got a decent return on their money.

He was approached by Accruent, a company in the same industry, who made Goddard and his partners an offer of one times revenue. Accruent had recently acquired one of Goddard’s competitors for a similar value, so presumably thought this was a fair offer.

Goddard brushed it off as completely unworkable. Goddard had decided he wanted five times revenue for his business. Even for a growing software company, five times revenue was a stretch, but Goddard stuck to his guns. That’s what it was worth to him to sell.

A year after they first approached Goddard, Accruent came back with an offer of two times revenue and, again, Goddard demurred.

Mainspring had developed a new application that was quickly gaining traction and he knew how hard it was to sell to the hospitals he already counted as customers.

He told Accruent his number was five times revenue in cash.

Eventually, Goddard got his number.

Being clear on what your number is before going into a negotiation to sell your business can be helpful when emotions start to take over. Rather than relying on industry benchmarks, the best way to ensure you’re not disappointed with the sale of your business is to decide up front what it’s worth to you.

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If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or call Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

Fortune 500 Companies Helped This Founder Exit

We know consumers have shifted their eyes from televisions to mobile devices, so how are companies raising upwards of $28 million to capitalize on this evolution?

For Mitchell Reichgut, co-founder of Value Exchange Advertising (VEA) company Jun Group, he helped create a service that has multi-national and luxury brands running to them to reach their target customers.  Jun Group is a pioneer in VEA where a marketer will offer a mobile phone user access to something cool like a game or some valuable content in exchange for watching an ad.

Jun Group raised $28 million in venture financing before ultimately being acquired by Advantage Solutions last fall.

In this interview with Reichgut, you’ll learn:

  • A refreshingly simple way to evaluate potential investors
  • The surprisingly tough question to ask interested investors
  • What to do when a partnership falls apart

Listen Now

Do you want to improve the value of your business?

If you’re interested in improving the value of your business, take our questionnaire or contact Colonial Business Brokerage today at 443-982-7332.

New Year’s Resolutions & Selling Your Business

Most people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolutions. But where buying and selling a business is concerned, failing to keep those resolutions could mean an abundance of lost opportunity.

Todd Ganos at Forbes recently penned a thought-provoking article entitled The 8 New Year’s Resolutions for the Sale of Your Business. In this article, he compares selling a business to getting in shape in the months preceding your visit to the beach. It is necessary to do a great deal of planning and hard work if you want to be in good shape for the big “beach body reveal.”

When it comes to selling a company, Ganos believes that there are eight factors that must be taken into consideration. Listed below are those factors he feels are a must for business owners looking to get their business ready for “the beach.” These are the eight factors that Ganos believes are most essential and should be on your New Years’ Resolution list for your business:

  1. Planning
  2. Legal
  3. Leadership
  4. Sales
  5. Marketing
  6. People
  7. Operations
  8. Financial

In order to get your business ready, it is necessary to take a good long and honest look at each of these eight important categories.

Planning is at the heart of everything. He points out that owners who truly want to get their business ready for the market will want to adopt a focused month-by-month plan.

This plan means having discipline, developing a business plan and involving your team in the development of that plan. Once the plan has been developed, it should be reviewed with your leadership team each month.

New Years’ Resolutions fail because they don’t get properly integrated into peoples’ lives. And the same holds true for making changes in one’s businesses. Ganos correctly asserts that in order to get your business ready to sell, you have to make it an “all-of-the-time thing” in which you are constantly focused on success.

New Years’ Resolutions have to be about doing things differently, having a plan and then sticking to these changes permanently.

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Whether you are looking to exit your privately held business, represent an acquisition-minded corporation, value your business, or are personally interested in owning or building value in your own company or franchise, Colonial Business Brokerage offers the professional services that successfully bring buyers and sellers together.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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