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4 Big Exits, 1 Smart Entrepreneur

Earlier this year, Steve Murch sold BigOven, a cooking app with over 13 million downloads and more than 4 million members, to Aisle Ahead, Inc., capping off an incredible run of successes:

  • Former Chairman of the Board, Escapia, Inc. (http://www.escapia.com), a leader in vacation rental software, sold to vacation rental leader HomeAway (NASDAQ: AWAY) in 2010
  • Director, Adventure Central, Inc., sold to AdventureLink in 2008
  • Founder, President & CEO of VacationSpot.com, a leading reservation network for villas and vacation condominiums, sold to Expedia in January 2000 for $87 million

Steve is the real deal, and in this episode, you’ll learn:

  • A surprising workaround for getting a big company to write a fat check
  • How Steve knows when to bootstrap instead of raising money
  • What liquidation preferences are and why they can be so damaging to founders
  • How to identify your strategic buyer

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Do you want to improve the value of your business?

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire and getting your Value Builder Score today:

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What Makes the Sale of a Business Fall Through?

There are a myriad of reasons why the sale of a business doesn’t close successfully; these multiple causes can, however, be broken down into four categories: those caused by the seller, those caused by the buyer, those that just happen (“acts of fate”), and those caused by third parties. The following examines the part each of these components can play in contributing to the wrecked deal:

The Seller

1. In some instances, the seller doesn’t have a valid reason for entering into the sale process. Without a strong reason for selling, he or she has neither the willingness to negotiate nor the flexibility to see the sale to a conclusion. Without such a commitment, the desire to sell is not powerful enough to overcome the many complexities necessary to finalize the sales process.

2. Some sellers are merely testing the waters. As detailed above, they are not at that “hungry” stage that provides the push toward a successful transaction. These sellers merely want to see if anyone wants to buy their business at the price they would like to receive.

3. Many sellers are unrealistic about the price they want for their business. They may be sincere about wanting to sell, but they are unable to be realistic about how the marketplace will value the business. The demand for their business may not be there.

4. Some sellers fail to be honest about their business or its situation. They may be hiding the fact that new competition is entering the market, that the business has serious problems or some other reason the business is not salable under existing circumstances. Even worse, some sellers do not disclose that there is more than one owner and that they are not all in agreement about selling the business.

5. A seller may decide to wait until a buyer is found and then check with their outside advisers about the tax and/or legal consequences. At this point, the terms of the deal have to be altered, and the buyer won’t agree. Sellers should deal with these complications ahead of time. Nobody likes changes–especially buyers!

The Buyer

1. The buyer may not have an urgent need or a strong desire to go into business. In many cases, the buyer may begin with positive intentions but then doesn’t have the courage to make “the leap of faith” necessary to go through with the sale.

2 Some buyers, like sellers, have very unrealistic expectations regarding the price of businesses. They are also uneducated about the nature of small business in general.

3. Many buyers are not willing to put in the hours or do the type of work necessary to operate a business successfully.

4. Buyers can be influenced by others who are opposed to the purchase of a business. Many people don’t or can’t understand the need to be “your own boss.”

Acts of Fate

These are the situations that “just happen,” causing deals to fall through. Even considering the strong hand of fate, many of these situations could have been prevented.

1. A buyer’s investigation reveals some unmentioned or unknown problem, such as an environmental situation. Or, perhaps there are financial deficiencies discovered by the buyer. Unfortunately, these should have been on the table from the beginning of the selling process.

2. The seller may not be able to substantiate, at least to the buyer’s satisfaction, the earnings of the business.

3. Problems may arise, unknown to both the seller and the buyer, with federal, state, or local governmental agencies.

Third Parties

1. Landlords may become difficult about transferring the lease or granting a new one.

2. Buyers and/or sellers may receive overly-aggressive advice from outside advisers, usually attorneys. Attorneys, in their zeal to represent their clients, forget that the goal is to put the deal together. In some cases, they erect so many roadblocks that the deal can only fall apart.

Most of the problems outlined here could have been resolved before the selling process was too far advanced. There are also some problems that could not have been avoided–people do sometimes enter situations with the best of intentions only to find out that this is not the right answer for them after all. These are the exceptions, however. Most business sales can have happy endings if potential difficulties are handled at the appropriate time.

Business brokers are aware of the various ways a deal may fall through. They are experienced in resolving issues before the business goes onto the market or before a buyer is introduced to the business. To buy or sell a business successfully, sellers should resolve any potential deal-wreckers, following the advice of a professional business broker.

Although business brokers cannot provide legal advice, they are familiar with the intricacies of the business sale. They are also familiar with local attorneys who specialize in the details of these transactions. These attorneys will usually be more efficient, and therefore more cost-effective, than the attorney who handles a general practice.

 

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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When It’s Time to Sell, Put Your Strengths First

Putting your strengths first will help you sell your business. While this may seem obvious, a surprising number of business owners will either improperly index the strengths of their business or fail to emphasize those strengths adequately. In this article, we will examine five key business strengths that you should focus on when it comes time to sell.

Understand Your Buyer

You know your business, but you don’t necessarily know what buyer is best for it in the long run. If you’ve never sold a business before (and most business owners haven’t), then you may not know how to best position and present your business for sale.

A business broker is immensely valuable in this regard. These professionals are very good at determining which prospective buyers are serious and which ones are not. Additionally, a business broker will use their own databases of prospects and vetted buyers and try to match your business up with the prospective buyers that are most likely to be a good fit. When dealing with a buyer, a seasoned business broker will put emphasis on your strengths whenever possible.

Be Sure to Maintain Normal Operations

Selling a business can be very demanding and underscores, once again, the value of working with a business broker. A business broker will focus on selling your business so that you have more time to focus on the day-to-day of running your business.

The last thing you want is to waste your time on buyers who are not serious. Remember, if your business suffers as a result of the time you spend away from your business in the sale process, then the value of your business to prospective buyers could suffer.

Determining the Best Price

If you incorrectly price your business, you could dramatically reduce the interest. Business brokers are experts at pricing businesses and can help you determine the best possible price. Many business owners have unrealistic valuations and others may even undervalue their businesses or they fail to incorporate all aspects of their business. Working with a professional business broker can help you quickly achieve the best price. The best price possible will work to maximize the strengths of your business.

Getting Your Business Ready for Sale

There is a lot that goes into getting your business ready to sell. The simple fact is that getting your business ready to sell isn’t a one-dimensional process, but instead involves every aspect of your business. Getting your business ready to sell isn’t about making it look presentable and putting a “new coat of paint” on things, although this is a factor.

Instead, it is necessary to have every aspect of your business in order. From paperwork such as tax returns, contracts, and forms to a business plan and more, it is important to consider every aspect of your business. You should consider what you would want to see if you were the one looking to buy the business. Be sure to do everything possible to build up your strengths.

Confidentiality

If word gets out that your business is up for sale, there could be a range of problems. Employees, including key management, could begin looking for other jobs and suppliers and key buyers could begin to look elsewhere. In short, a breach of confidentiality could lead to chaos.

Getting your business ready for sale means factoring in the strengths and weakness of your business then fixing weaknesses whenever possible and building upon your strengths. Working with a business broker can help you address every point covered in this article and more.

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Evaluating Your Company’s Weaknesses

The time you spend evaluating your company’s weaknesses is, as it turns out, one of the single best investments you can hope to make. No one should understand your company better than you. But to fully understand your company, it is essential that you invest the time to understand your company’s various strengths and weakness.

Your company, from the beginning, has been an investment. It’s an investment in your time, your mental energy and, of course, your financial resources. The time and effort you expend to locate, understand and then fix your businesses’ weaknesses is time very well spent. Addressing and remedying your businesses’ weakness will not only pay dividends in the here and now, but will also help get your business ready to sell. Let’s turn our attention to some of the key areas of weakness that can cause some buyers to look elsewhere.

An Industry in Decline

A declining market can serve as a major red flag for buyers. You as a business owner must be savvy enough to understand market situations and respond accordingly.

If you spot a troubling trend and realize that a major source of your revenue is declining or will decline, then you must branch out in new directions, offer new goods and/or services, find new customers and also find new ways to get your existing customers to buy more. Taking these steps shows that your business is a vibrant and dynamic one.

You Face an Aging Workforce

It has been well publicized that young people, for example, are not entering the trades. Many trades such as tool and die makers will be left with a substantial shortage of skilled workers as a result. No doubt, technology will replace some, but not all, of these workers.

This is an example of how an aging workforce can impact the health and stability of a business. If your business potentially relies upon an aging workforce then it is essential that you find a way to address this issue long before you put your business up for sale.

You Only Have, or Primarily Rely Upon a Single Product

Being a “one-trick pony” is never a good thing, even if that trick is exceptionally good. Diversification increases the chances of stability and can even help you find new customers. Additional goods and services allow you to weather unexpected storms such as a supply chain disruption while at the same time provide access to new customers and thus new revenue.

The Factor of Customer Concentration

Many buyers are concerned about customer concentration. If your business has only one or two customers, then your business is highly vulnerable and almost every prospective buyer will realize this fact. While it is an investment to find new customers, it is well worth the time and money.

A business broker can help you evaluate your company and, in the process, address its weaknesses. Remedying your businesses weakness before you put your business up for sale and you will be rewarded.

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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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.

      2. The roles 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.

Do you want to improve the value of your business?

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Why A NYSE-listed Giant Bought This $2M Business

Angela Mader founded fitlosophy®, a fitness and lifestyle products company, in 2008. Beginning with a fitness journal she called “Fitbook”, Mader built a brand that focused on helping customers achieve their fitness goals.

By 2017, fitlosophy had grown to 6 employees, $2 million in top-line revenue and Mader was selling her journals in 16,000 stores including giant retailers like Target, Walgreens and CVS. That’s when CSS Industries (NYSE: CSS) came knocking.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

– How to get acquirers to place a value on your brand

– The surprising secret to getting national retailers like Walgreens to carry your product

– How licensing deals can act as a Trojan Horse for finding an acquirer

– How to think about up-front cash, employment agreements, and earnouts when reviewing an offer letter from a public company

– The ultimate acid test for any entrepreneur

Listen Now

Do you want to improve the value of your business?

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

The Top Three Major Legal Mistakes to Avoid During a Sale

The business sale process can be complex, which is part of the reason why it makes sense to have expert help in the form of a business broker. Legal mistakes can be very costly mistakes. A legal mistake can also bring the entire sale process to a sudden and complete halt. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to avoid these kinds of issues when selling your business.

Major Mistake 1 – You Skipped the Non-Disclosure Agreement

Nothing quite invites trouble like skipping the non-disclosure agreement. If a deal falls through, then you have the NDA backing you up. This document ensures that the prospective buyer doesn’t tell the world that your business is up for sale. Never assume that a deal is going through until it actually is 100% complete. Buying or selling a business is a complex process with lots of moving parts. There is plenty of room for things to go wrong, and that is why you always need to have an NDA in place.

Major Mistake 2 – You Don’t Work with an Attorney

Let’s be very blunt here, if you are selling a business, then you need an attorney. Just as there is no replacement for an NDA, the same holds true for working with a lawyer. It is also vital that you properly prep your business for sale, which means getting paperwork organized and making sure that you have legally checked all your boxes. Working with an experienced and proven attorney will help you ensure that your business is ready for sale. If you’re not prepared for the deal, it can make buyers nervous.

Major Mistake 3 – You Failed to Get a Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is a valuable, and necessary, legal document. Some sellers are reluctant to use it, fearing that it will slow down the momentum of the deal. However, since this letter works to protect your interest and outlines expectations, this step should not be skipped. For example, a letter of intent details the termination fee for the buyer, meaning that the buyer can’t walk away without consequences simply because he or she is having a bad day. Importantly, a letter of intent ensures that you are only dealing with serious buyers.

Many things can go wrong while selling a business. The more prepared you are before you begin the process, the greater the chances that you will not only avoid headaches but also be successful. Long before you put your business on the market, you should begin working with a capable business broker and attorney. Their input and advice will prove to be invaluable and help you avoid a range of costly and time-consuming issues.

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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5 Key Factors in Transferring Your Business to a Family Member

The odds are that you’ve put a great deal of yourself into your business. Inevitably, the day will come when you have no choice but to walk away from your business and begin a new chapter of your life. Quite often, businesses are transferred from one family member to another. In this article, we will examine 5 of the key factors you’ll want to consider when transferring your business to a family member.

Factor #1 Gifting Can Have Numerous Benefits

Will you be selling your business to a family member or simply gifting that business? Gifting comes with several major advantages, for example, this approach can reduce your real estate taxes. Also, the gifting process can allow you to maintain a level of control if the agreement is written properly.

Factor #2 The Buy-Sell Agreement

Don’t overlook the importance of the buy-sell agreement, which works to put everything in writing. You may be tempted to forgo a contract since you are dealing with a family member, but this is a mistake, no matter how close you might be with your loved ones. A buy-sell agreement adds clarity to the process, which can help to keep confusion levels low and the chances of success high. When the time comes to transfer your business to a relative, you’ll want an expert to create a document that outlines all relevant details. It should feature everything from the value of the business and the amount being paid for the business to who will be kept on the payroll to what level of involvement you’ll have once the process is finished.

Factor #3 Seller Financing

Seller financing is quite common among sellers, and when relatives are involved it becomes even more common. One option is to consider a private annuity. A private annuity allows for payments to be spread out for many years and can even extend until the end of your life.

Factor #4 Considering the Self-Cancelling Installment Note

In the installment note, it is possible to feature a self-canceling clause, which can definitely benefit your family in the future. This part of the paperwork will confirm that if you were to pass away before all the payments have been made, the remaining debt can be attached directly to your will. If you are a parent selling a business to a child, then one of the key benefits of an installment note is that it keeps your other children from paying excess income tax on your estate.

Factor #5 Transferring a Business to a Relative and the IRS

You can expect the IRS to take a second look when you sell a business to a family member. The IRS does this to make sure that everything is above board, due to the fact that many past business owners have acted in an unethical manner. You’ll want to be very sure that every aspect of the sale is done professionally and that you have all your paperwork in order.

A business broker can help you deal the unique particulars that come along with selling a business to a relative. Every business is different, and every sale is different too. A professional business broker can help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

Do you want to improve the value of your business?

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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The Biggest Mistake Owners Make When Selling Their Company

One of the biggest mistake owners make in selling their company is being lured into a proprietary deal.

The Definition Of A Proprietary Deal

Acquirers land a proprietary deal (or “prop deal”) when they convince owners to sell their businesses without creating a competitive marketplace.  Acquirers running a proprietary deal know they don’t have any competition and tend to make weaker offers with more punitive terms because they know nobody else is bidding.

Many founders become the target of a proprietary deal without even knowing they have been duped.  First, someone senior from the acquiring company approaches the founder, complimenting them on their business.  The acquirer suggests lunch, and then high-level financials are exchanged.  Soon, the owner starts going down a path that is difficult to come back from.

As the parties in a proprietary deal get to know one another, founders often share information with the acquirer that puts them in a compromised negotiation position.  The interactions are set up as friendly exchanges between two industry leaders, but many founders reveal key facts in these discussions that end up being used against them when negotiations turn serious.  Business owners also become more emotionally committed to selling the more resources they invest in the process and the more time they spend thinking—perhaps dreaming—of what it would mean to sell their business.

How To Avoid Getting Taken In By A Proprietary Deal

Savvy sellers avoid the proprietary deal by creating a competitive process for their company.  Take for example Dan Martell, the founder of Clarity.fm, among other companies.  When Martell decided to sell Clarity, he knew the likely buyer was one of five New York-based companies. Instead of negotiating with one, he invited all five to an event he hosted in New York.  The five CEOs—all of whom knew one another—saw a room full of their competitors and realized that if Clarity went on the market, they would have to outbid the other buyers in that room.

Hosting the event was Martell’s way of communicating to all the potential buyers that a proprietary deal was off the table and that if they wanted to buy Clarity, they would have to compete for it.

It’s flattering to receive a call from an executive at a company you respect.  Just know that if you accept their invitation of lunch, you run the risk of becoming the latest casualty of the proprietary deal.

Do you want to improve the value of your business?

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

Maintaining Confidentiality Throughout the Sale Process

There are two key ingredients when it comes to selling a business: professionalism and confidentiality. If either of these two ingredients is lacking, then you’ll most likely run into problems. Sadly, many sellers see their deals fall apart due to a breach of confidentiality. You certainly don’t want to be among their ranks.

The simple fact is that a breach of confidentiality can negatively impact everyone from suppliers and vendors to creditors. For example, vendors could change their terms and this, in turn, could have a major, negative impact on cash flow. There can be a chain reaction of events that spiral out of control.

The potential negative outcomes of a breach in confidentiality are quite numerous, for example, employees and customers alike could begin to worry about the future of the business. Employees could begin to worry about the safety of their jobs and begin looking for a new position. Dangerously, this situation could lead to changes in management and the loss of key employees. Likewise, customers, fearing instability within the business, could also decide to take the business elsewhere, leading to revenue problems.

Yet another complicating factor comes in the form of the competition. If the competition hears that your business is up for sale, they could sense blood in the water and look to steal your customers.

Ultimately, a breach could give potential buyers cold feet. At this point, it should be very clear that protecting confidentiality is a must. One of the single best ways to ensure that confidentiality is maintained is to opt for an experienced and proven business broker. Business brokers understand the simply tremendous value of keeping things under wraps.

It may be tempting to try and sell your business on your own, but it is vital to understand that doing so can damage your businesses’ reputation. A good business broker knows how to shield your business from breaches of confidentiality. By working with a business broker, not only are confidentiality agreements signed and taken seriously but also you’ll know that prospective buyers are vetted and fully pre-qualified. According to an article on Inc.com, broker feedback has revealed 9 out of 10 interested parties who respond to “business for sale” ads are not qualified to make the purchase. Why would you want to risk giving away key details to these parties?

In short, you’ll have a much better idea of who you are dealing with and how serious they are about buying your business. At the end of the day, there is no replacement for maintaining confidentiality.

 

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.

Call Colonial Business Brokerage today at (443) 982-7332.

Find out how you score on the eight factors that drive your company’s value by completing the Value Builder Questionnaire:

Get Your Value Builder Score Now

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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