A Business Owners Primer on Exiting Their Business
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you probably won’t end up there.” Forest Gump.
It’s never too early to start planning for an exit. At CFO Consulting & Advisory, we believe that you should begin every long-term planning session with the end in mind. It can take years to properly get your company ready for an eventually successful sale. There’s a lot to consider when planning an exit.
CFO Consulting and Advisory will help you plan and execute the sale of the company and will make sure to avoid mistakes that buyers do not want to see. Our services will add to the price of your company’s sales and will exponentially pay for themselves
DETAILS OF PREPARATION FOR AN EXIT
The most important issue is to set your goals in writing and have a plan to meet them…well in advance of your exit. Your goals should be driven by your answers to the following questions:
- How much do you need to enjoy your current lifestyle when you retire? How much do you have?
- If there’s a gap, will the sale of your business fill that gap?
- If not, then what is the written plan to increase the value of the business to fill the gap?
- Who do you want to take over your business? Will you be transferring to a family member, and if so, what is the best way for you to get the value you need out of it and still leave a viable business to them?
- How will that possibly affect the rest of your family? Is that family member ready to take control of the business and if not, what plan do you have to groom him or her and how long will that take?
- How do you want to structure the deal and how will that affect not only the taxes you will pay, which you want to minimize, but also how it dovetails or not into your retirement requirements?
Professional advisors, can and do produce a superior return on their fees in terms of not only price and structure, but on taxes and protection in the sale – they are well worth it. Advisors can, and often will include;
- An Attorney for experienced advice on cautionary issues and the deal structure.
- A Banker to be prepped and ready for any financing that might be needed.
- A Merger and Acquisition Specialist to find a pool of buyers and provide advice.
- A CPA and Tax Advisor to provide audited Financials, help with due diligence and provide tax advice.
- An Estate Planner to help set up tax advantaged retirement protections through trusts.
- An Insurance Specialist to provide protection for your business and life insurance to pay estate taxes.
- A Valuation Specialist to give you a better idea of what your business could realistically sell for.
- A Wealth Manager to plan and advise you for your post sale asset investments.
And finally, An Overall Advisor– Your CFO, a partner you can trust and to guide you through all of the intricacies of an exit. Someone to keep an eye on your goal(s) and bring you in only for the key decisions. Someone to manage the process while you continue running and growing your business.
These are the types of things a CFO does to help you meet your financial and personal goals and exit in the way you plan:
- We bring together a “Success Team” of Trusted Advisors who are experienced in their part of a transition. The CFO filter and assure cross communication among all the various advisors, in order to keep fees reasonable and not watch as specialists go off attending to and billing for non-important issues and details. The CFO oversees the entire process from start to finish.
- We aid you in making sure your company has the features that buyers want to see and does not have those that they do not:
WHAT BUYERS WANT TO SEE IN A COMPANY
The key to a successful sale is knowing and preparing for what a buyer wants to see in an acquisition. The main items they are concerned with are:
- A history of repeatable revenues and profits.
- Future projections that are realistically prepared.
- A solid management team that will remain with the business.
- A diversified customer-base.
- A tight financial ship – competent staff, effective processes, good software apps and clean financials.
- A clean, audited or reviewed set of financial statements for 2 to 3 years with few surprises.
- Well documented procedures and processes
What they do not want to see is:
- A company that is dependent upon the owner only (though this can be overcome).
- Warts and or surprises in the financial statements.
- Risky revenues that are not scalable.
- Due diligence that is a mess and takes too long.
- Blue sky projections that are not supportable.
- Dependency of greater than 30% on any one customer.
At CFO Consulting & Advisory we assess these areas and aid in establishing a company that has all the right attributes for a quick and successful sale. More deals are killed during the due diligence process than from any other item. If surprises suddenly appear during due diligence it will inevitably reduce the price or kill the deal.
Again, doing it right means more money for you, less stress, and reaching your personal and financial goals in the best possible way while not letting your business fall by the wayside during the process. Not attending to pre-planning and strategy, for the most part, results in frustration, disappointment, regret, high fees as well as not having enough for yourself financially in the end, if the deal even closes.
You’ve built your business successfully from the beginning, now it’s just as important to have a successful finish.