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How to visualise your bountiful business exit

Visualise your bountiful business exit

Bountiful_Harvest_1440x1080Visualise your bountiful business exit, it’s worth it. Einstein considered imagination to be more important than intellect. Before doing an actual experiment, he would visualise the experiment in his mind, thinking about each and every detail and the whole sequence. As a result, he was prepared for the minor or major problems that he could encounter during the experiment. Establishing your business takes a lot of effort. It is only fair for you to consider a bountiful exit when selling your running business. However, like everything else, a business sale also requires a proper strategy. If you are well prepared, your business sale will conclude smoothly, with maximum returns for your hard work. The best way to be prepared for a business sale is to visualise successful business exit.

Visualising the Solicitor

A good advisor can make the difference between a successful or stalled business sale. Apart from looking at qualifications and experience, you should also visualise yourself to be working together with your solicitor —preparing a sales pitch, drafting a Memorandum, finalising Heads of Terms, and most importantly, negotiating. Try to imagine what working with your advisor will be like. This will help you in choosing the solicitor that you feel most comfortable working with.

The solicitor I chose was a word of mouth recommendation. When we first met, he spent quite some time with me outlining my options, explaining the process and cover potential costs. During our discussions I felt that he was genuine, straightforward and able to help me get what I wanted. As the sale process progressed I often visualised leaving my solicitors office with a big smile. And towards the end I pictured myself hugging my solicitor (and he’s not really the huggable type)! Looking back now, I remember the day clearly when I got up from the boardroom table, concluding the deal and wraping my arms around my solicitor. What a great day!

Visualising the Sales Pitch

The sale proposal is the first thing that you are going to need. It is also known as a Memorandum of Information. The memorandum should be prepared very professionally and should be a lucrative document for the buyers. It should emphasise the strengths of your business, and underplay the weaknesses. But, everything should be done artfully. You can improve the impact and quality of your  document by adding graphs, charts and other data that looks credible. Try visualising that you’re that the buyer rather than the seller. Think about the points that you, as a buyer, would like to see in the Memorandum. Your solicitor will also give you valuable advice, but it’s you who should be calling the shots rather than just towing the line that your solicitor gives you.

Visualising Meetings

You’ll be required to attend many meetings with the buyer’s team, during which you’ll be asked to explain different parts of your business. Before the pre-completion day, there may be a number of negotiation sessions to finalise the prices, payment terms, and other terms and conditions of the sale. Visualising each such meeting beforehand will make you better prepared to handle them.

Never show that you are desperate to sell your business. In fact, you should give the impression that there are other buyers also interested in buying your business. Remember that a delayed sale is usually a declined sale; therefore, you must do everything to speed up the sale process. Do not be available for meetings too readily. It might make the buyer think that they are the only party interested in your company. Rather, schedule appointments for meetings and inquire about the agenda beforehand. Some companies launch a media campaign just before they send out a sale memorandum, so as to improve the image and the potential price of their business. Visualising a successful business exit is about visualising each one of the activities right until the pre-completion day point.

Visualising Negotiations

For negotiating the terms and the price, you should first sit together with your business sale team and your business broker. Brainstorm your priorities about the price, and know the limit to which you can show flexibility to. Identify the weaker aspects of your business and be ready to answer tough questions. Remember, that your buyer will focus on the weaknesses of your business in an effort to reduce the price. You should be prepared for the counterarguments. You can either focus on your strengths and show that they offset your weaknesses, or you can find ways to underplay your weaknesses and convince the buyer that the price that you are demanding is profitable for them. Visualise negotiations always ending on a positive note where both you and the buyer walk away satisfied.

Visualising Indemnities, Warranties and Representations

The most sensitive aspects of a business sale are the representations, warranties and indemnities that you provide in your documents. A representation is a statement about a certain fact or aspect of your business. By giving a representation, you are taking responsibility that the information that you are providing is true and authentic. Similarly, the warranties that you issue are assurances about some aspects or assets that they have been correctly stated. Any wrong information from your side for which you have provided a warranty, will put you in the breach of the sale agreement. Indemnities are also similar; however, while indemnifying your buyer, you are taking responsibility to compensate the losses that the buyer may suffer in case a particular term of the agreement is breached by you.

Before issuing indemnities, warranties or representations, you should visualise the ramifications of issuing these documents or including these clauses in the sale agreement. It is best to keep the warranties and indemnities to a minimum. And when you do have to issue them, make sure that they should not keep troubling you even after you have sold your business.

Finally, you can visualise having a vacation at your favourite destination after you have successfully exited from your business. Do this from the start!

If you’re approaching an imminent completion day, have a look at our  Completion Day Checklist. It’s provides everything you need to know and do for the big day.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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Top 5 tips when starting a new business all over again

Top 5 tips when starting a new business all over again

Starting Over AgainStarting a new business all over again? What about your existing business? There can be many reasons for selling a business. It may be that you have realised that you are in the wrong line of business, and would like to switch industries. Or, you might have realised that your business is not performing as expected, and you would rather sell your business while it’s still making some profits. After all, over 50% of business start ups go under in the first five years. And, if you are lucky, you have a business that’s roaringly successful, and you would like to cash in the good will and start up a new business.

Start-up business owners usually have little experience of managing their own business. After they have done it for some time, the level of their awareness about the market and the industry is improved. Two years down the line, their vision improves significantly and they can spot opportunities better. For instance, let’s say you have a website that’s also making money. However, by virtue of your experience, you know that another niche is driving more traffic and could deliver more profits. You can always dispose of your existing business without making a loss, and hopefully for a big profit, and start a new business that appears more lucrative to you.

Here are five tips from highly successful entrepreneurs to guide you through the business-switching process.

1. Do Not Jump the Boat

Switching between businesses is like switching between boats. If you jump off one onto other, there are chances that you might end up landing in the cold water. Do not try to start a new business while you are still running your old one. This will require you to be disciplined in your thinking and actions. Once you are focused on a new business, you may get distracted and your old business may suffer in the process. You might not be able to concentrate on the sale of your old business and may lose money selling it a in a hurry. Also, your new business might also suffer because you would not be devoting full time and attention to it. The key is to do one thing at a time. Once you are convinced that you should be going for a new business, concentrate on selling the old business first. This will free important time and financial resources that you can devote to building your new business start up.

2. Devote Time and Attention to Planning

Starting a business is a difficult decision to make. It’s not something that you do in haste. It’s better to devote proper time and attention at each and every stage of the planning process. If, and we don’t hope such is the case, you are regretting to be in a certain line of business, it might be because you did not make a great plan. Dreaming is okay, but your dream must translate into facts and figures through careful planning. How will you finance the start up business costs? What will be your marketing plan? How will you manage the workload? What are your goals in 1 year? 3 years? What is your vision of your business? These are all questions you must ask yourself, and do not move ahead until you have put down every little detail into your laptop.
The problem here is, for many people who are looking to sell their business and venture on a new start up business, there may not be enough time to plan. Urgency may exist because the old business might be consuming too much time or returning too little profit, or both. Under such situations, do the best you can to make the transition smooth.

3. Evaluate the Business you are looking to Start

You’ll need to be 100% sure that the new business that you are looking to start is not all glitter and no gold. Remember that the grass always seems greener on the other side. So, make sure that you talk to a few people in your new line of business. Gather facts and figures about your target market. Evaluate whether the market would be growing in future. You should be careful not to get caught in a fad and be left high and dry when the excitement of the fad runs out.

4. Keep Marketing in the Centre

SMEs are at the centre of the British economy, providing over fifty-nine per cent employments in the country. At the centre of any successful SME, though, is a robust marketing strategy. Marketing is around what your new business should be built. You should start by profiling your target market. Think about the need that your product satisfies; then, think about the people who have that need. Ask yourself: what do my customers do to satisfy their need at present? How can I make a difference? That’s where marketing starts. From there onwards, you should think about the media that your customers watch, the places that they go to, and the product attributes that matter to them. After you have achieved clarity about what you need to do, focus on “how”. Think about the skills and resources that you’d require in order to meet the needs of your target market.

5. Learn from Your Old Business

Apply the learning from your old business to your new business. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results”. You should be doing everything right the second time. However, you’ll need proper monitoring and constant evaluation of your performance in order to be able to apply corrections to your business strategy. Make sure you have a system for monitoring and evaluation in place in your business plan.
Lastly, (but as a matter of fact, firstly), you need to sell your old business profitably. This should be your priority, because you want to capitalise on the time and the efforts that you have invested in your old business.

Business start up is not easy to set up but you’ve done it once before so it should be easier the second time around!

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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3 reasons why you want to retain key staff during business sale

The Benefits of Retaining Key Staff

Key StaffA business can be only as good as the people it employs. When taking care of your business, it takes a lot of effort and time to establish it on firm ground and along the way you build up a number of assets. These assets can be tangible, like computers, furniture or stocks. But, it’s the intangible assets that are usually the most important. These intangible assets are your goodwill and your human resource. When you decide to exit your business and are planning to sell it, it is vital that you retain key staff right until the key moment.

The Importance of Key Staff

Unlike fixed and tangible assets that you can buy and sell on the market anytime, key staff is usually an irreplaceable asset. This is because you have invested a great deal of time and money in recruiting, hiring, training, and grooming the key staff in your organisation. Your business, like all other businesses, has a particular culture and environment. Your employees have developed into being productive assets of your business over a long period of time. The performance and productivity of your business depends upon your key staff. Therefore, it is vital that you retain key staff for as long as you want your business to keep performing at an optimum level.

Who Are Your Key Staff Members?

Before you decide to retain key staff prior to selling your business, you’ll need to determine who the key staff members actually are. Usually, the people occupying the top slots in sales, marketing, operations and finance are the employees that you should retain right until after your business has been sold. You may also have a couple of key people in other areas depending on the type of business. For example product designers, engineers or software programmers. There would be one or two people in sales and marketing who know everything about the product, the customers, and the selling process. Similarly, the people in finance know about your current financial standing, your liabilities, accounting methods, business revenue and cost models, and assets.

Reasons to Retain Key Staff

There are at least three reasons to retain key staff during a business sale:

  1. Your business performance depends upon your key staffers. With key staff gone, your sales and profits may dwindle. Your business can even come to a complete halt. Such a situation would seriously jeopardise your business sale. In order to sell your business for profit, it is elementary that you maintain your level of sales and profits. Ideally speaking, your business should be doing “business as usual”. Any impression that your business is slowing down or losing money will make the sale difficult and bring down the expected sale price. Therefore, it is extremely important to retain key staff.
  2. Retaining key staff is not only important for you, it may also be important for the people who will be buying your business. It could aid smooth transition of ownership and unaffected business performance during and after the sale.
  3. Your employees have also invested their blood, sweat and tears in your business. Your key staff members are those people who, apart from being competent, are also motivated and loyal to your business. This loyalty should be rewarded.

To Tell or Not to Tell

Another important decision that you need to make while selling your business is whether or not you should inform your key staff members about your plans to sell the business. You may consider it morally wrong to keep your team in the dark and surprise them when the sale goes through. On the other hand, knowing that the business is going to be sold can make your employees lose interest and motivation. Naturally, they will be looking for another job and might even desert you before you’d like them to. There is no fixed answer, as every situation is different. The best course of action is to make arrangements where your key staff continues to perform the business functions right through to sale completion.
Your sale plan should give due consideration to your key staff. You could make provisions, subject to the buyer agreeing, in the Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) to retain key staff —the people without whom the business profitability is likely to be affected. You can also motivate your key staff by offering a financial incentive from a successful business sale completion (even if you couch it in different terms if they are not to be privy to the sale process).

In all cases, be mindful that parting with your key staff at a critical time can cause unwanted problems and complications during the sale process. It is important to retain key staff if you want the sale to proceed smoothly and earn a good return on your investment.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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How Could My Company Be Valued £500k By One Broker and £3.6m By Another?

Company Be Valued

Company Be ValuedHow could my company be valued 7x more than another valuation?

While attending the Business Growth Program (BGP) at Cranfield University in 2011 I had a life changing experience. So you know – the BGP is the UK’s longest running and most successful programme for the development of owner-managers. The whole course is built around a core process whereby each participant develops their own growth strategy for their business and a plan to implement that strategy. Throughout the course I learned about money and measures, markets, management and me.

Although the course was designed to help me grow my business empire, it actually caused the opposite effect. During the ‘me’ section of the course I was challenged about what I wanted, why I wanted it and how I wanted to go forward into the future.

For over eight years I built my business from nothing to a 500 million GBP turnover operation, yet during that time I failed to think much about ‘me’. I got up day after day, pushing, struggling, celebrating, and then pushing some more. I worked and worked and worked yet failed to consider why I was working and for what ends.

During a dinner meeting with my Cranfield counsellor he asked me, ‘What does Kim really want’? I had a few wines by then and out came the words, ‘I want to get out. I want to be free. I want to leave my company but since I own it I’m stuck forever.’ I also felt a sense of guilt that I wanted to leave a very successful organisation that I created. What was wrong with me?

Thankfully, my counsellor told me that I wasn’t stuck and there were many options available. He also explained that I was a typical entrepreneur – I like to start things but sticking around wasn’t my cup of tea. Suddenly, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps I could exit my company?! Perhaps I didn’t have to feel guilty? Maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with me?

Let me back up and explain my situation – I owned 50% of a Limited company and my business partner owned the other 50%. My partner wasn’t interested in selling so I assumed I had to stick around. I suppose I was sheltered for 8 years – my head was down and I didn’t really understand where I was or how I could change my situation. I didn’t have many friends I could talk to so I just kept quiet and lived each day as it came. I often told my business partner that I wasn’t happy but he kept telling me to stick it out. When I asked how long he wanted me to ‘stick it out,’ an answer never came.

After the discussion with my counsellor and realising I had options, I told my business partner that I officially wanted to leave. We spent a few months discussing various options where I took time off or tried working in other parts of the business. My partner wasn’t happy with my decision and truth be told, it felt as if we were going through a divorce. It was a very difficult time in my life – I felt scared, alone and vulnerable. Owning and running a company with another person is very similar to marriage.

Anyway, things took their course – my business partner found a solicitor and then I asked around for an accountant and/or lawyer. The first recommendation I received was to visit a London accountancy firm to get to grips with some sort of company valuation. A friend of mine successfully sold his company for £11 million through the recommended firm so I thought it was a good place to start.

The meeting with the accountant was heart-wrenching. After an hour of showing me all sorts of figures, calculations, discussing tax and throwing some big words around she declared that I’d be lucky to get £250,000 for my shares and that was before tax. When I saw the figure I almost cried. I was expecting a bit more than that!

The accountant went on to explain that the same situation happened to her in a previous company and that if I wanted to leave I need to take what I could get and make the best of it. She explained I was in a position of weakness and it was me that wanted to leave. All I could think was that I spent 8 years giving my life for £250,000. In my mind, the pain I endured wasn’t worth that amount of money.

Fortunately, I met up with some business friends after my meeting and explained the situation. They all said there was something wrong with the valuation and I needed to seek better advice. If it wasn’t for them, I could have carried on with that accountant and received a fraction of what I ultimately achieved.

A few weeks later, and after a visit to a fantastic lawyer, the new valuation figure for 50% of the company was around £1.8 million. Big difference – eh? Needless to say, the heart-wrenching feeling I had at the accountant’s office was not replicated. Instead I felt a tingle of freedom – a possibility that I might be able to exit and have a pay-out that fell more in line with my expectations.

Fast-forward several months and the deal was completed. I was able to exit my company, get a very nice pay-out and finally take the time to understand who I was, what I wanted and how I wanted to go about getting it!

So, my key point is this: make sure you talk to several people about potential valuation figures and definitely complete a beauty parade when sourcing your business sale team. Professional advisors can help you lose or gain loads of money – take the time to shop around and find the best fit for you.

In our store we have an excellent pack that can help you select the best advisors for your particular requirements. Check ‘The Seller’s Professional Advisors Beauty Parade Pack’ out here.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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How You Sell Your Business Will Determine Its Selling Price

How You Sell Your Business…

When you decide to sell your business you could make 50% more or 50% less depending on how you sell your business. When it comes to the how’s, here’s a list starting from the worst way to sell (lower value) to the best way to sell (higher value):

  1. Liquidation
  2. Book value
  3. Unsolicited offer to buy from a competitor
  4. Professional contact introduction
  5. Private Equity Group
  6. Strategic Buyer through a Broker
  7. Strategic Buyers in a Bidding Process

The Liquidation value of a company is often used if a business owner dies or becomes ill. The value does not include goodwill, company earning potential or client lists. By selling your company this way, you’ll get the least value possible. On the flip side, getting Strategic Buyers in a bidding process is the ‘holy grail,’ of selling. This allows for competition and has the potential to increase value through demand.

How you sell your business is a fundamental aspect regarding the value you ultimately achieve. While trawling through YouTube, I found an excellent video that outlines the various ways to sell a business in addition to explaining why. To get a full description on each of these methods, watch the following video created by MidMarketCaptialInc.

How You Sell Your Business Video

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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Top 10 Negotiation Techniques to Use When Selling Your Business

Negotiation Techniques to Use When Selling Your Business

Negotiation Techniques to Use When Selling Your BusinessNegotiation Techniques to Use When Selling Your Business

Imagine having to explain to an alien the concept of money. There was a time when this meant that bits of paper and little metal discs equated to a value of so many items of food, clothes, vehicles and so forth. Now with credit cards, electronic transfers etc figures on a screen equate to value.

The point is that someone somewhere along the line decided these things had value and had to explain that. Likewise when selling your business it is up to you to find a way to show why your personal pride and joy that you spent years working on is worth someone taking off their hands. With these Top 10 Negotiation Techniques you can get the maximum amount when you want to move on to pastures new.

1. It’s Not All About The Money, Money, Money

It may seem counter intuitive but dropping prices is not always the best way to get people on side in a negotiation. Indeed sometimes pitching a lower price can devalue what you have.

Here’s a real life example:

A film maker goes to a potential backer with an idea for a film. He says that he can make this film for around £50,000. In his mind because this idea is brilliant and relatively low cost surely a business savvy investor will cough up, right?

Except in this case they didn’t. Film investments are notoriously risky and the people putting the money in want something that they think will make money.

So the film maker went to another meeting. This time the project was pitched at £2 million. And sure enough at this meeting his idea was taken a lot more seriously.

The point of this story is to look at the value of what you are offering to a potential buyer. Explain to them why you have set the price and only drop the price if you need to!

2. Aim high

“You should always aim high. What if you have low aspirations and goals in life and you don’t meet them?” Ricky Gervais

It is important that you do not misunderstand this one. Yes you want the best possible price. This is not the same as giving them a wildly unrealistic value just the highest possible calculations to give you the best deal.

You want to be able to start off high so you can move further down if you need to!

3. Do your research

When negotiating it helps to be prepared for the questions they are likely to throw at you. However this is not just about finding out what they will ask about you it is also about finding which of their buttons are the right ones to push!

For example, say you go on their website and it says they are looking to “expand into the Asian market.” If your business is particularly popular in that area you could say “Well if you buy our business this will benefit you more in this market because…” Take note of anything that could give you the upper hand!

4. Don’t split the difference!

It is the easiest option and the simplest of negotiation techniques- they have their figure, you have yours, meet in the middle. The problem is that meeting in the middle is not really what you are going for. Hold out for a little bit more!

5. KISS (Keep It Short And Simple!)

Deals can often get complicated and it is this that often causes those annoying frustrations and delays that end up hijacking negotiations and slam you straight back to square one!

Whoever you are dealing with try to spell out what you want and do your best to talk about minor niggles and worries as soon as possible so you can focus on the “This is the business, this is how much I want for it” part!

6. “Don’t give me problems, tell me solutions”

It is easy to define a negotiation as “us and them” If someone has concerns be proactive and find someone who can deal with an issue. For example if they give you a technical question you don’t know the answer to, find the tech guy and get them to answer it as soon as possible.

It may be a cliché but when it comes to selling a business time really is money, especially wasted time!

7. Give and take

While you want to get the best deal you also need to have a few tricks up your sleeve in order to make sure it goes through. If you are too tough with your negotiations people may end up walking away and then you have to start all over again!

For example, someone may want to buy your business but do not want to purchase your stock that is more than a couple of years old. You could say “Alright that’s fine then but in which case we’ll have a clearout sale and make money from that to fund our next venture.”

As ever in life it’s a question of balance- get the best price you can but don’t be afraid to throw in the odd freebie too!

8. Make the first offer

Common wisdom suggests that you ought to wait for your buyer to give you a figure and make the first move. However sometimes it is better to take the initiative and tell them what you want first. If they go for it then you could potentially save yourself a lot of time!

9. Know when to walk away

If you have done your sums right then you will know the most you would like to sell your business for and the lowest amount you are prepared to sell it for. Do not be afraid of walking away if a deal isn’t right. Trust your instincts! (Check out the ‘Calculate Your Walkaway Price’ Pack at our Store)

10. No table thumping!

There is a difference between being assertive and aggressive. Do not say that any terms are “non-negotiable” or insist on a deadline. Most deals go through when both parties are prepared to work together and come up with the right agreement. Subtle persuasion works better than tea cup hurling!

In short these negotiation techniques will help you to maintain the right atmosphere when discussing deals but more importantly will give you a better chance of selling at the right price. Good luck!

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”


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Video Review: How To Sell A Business In A Bad Economy

How To Sell A Business In A Bad Economy

Although this video was created in America during the Fall of 2011 everything the presenter discusses is valid today. How to sell a business in a bad economy is just as pertinent today as it was then! The presenter, Bill Whitehurst, of Whitehurst Mergers & Acquisitions explains that now, more than ever, the good will value of a business needs to be substantiated to prospective buyers. Mr Whitehurst outlines three managerial tools/resources that can be created to help buyers to better envision good will. Within the video, you’ll learn about the importance of a ‘Procedural Manual’, ‘Training Manual’ and ‘Formalised Sales & Marketing Program’.

If you’re thinking about selling or preparing to sell, this 4 minute video is worth a view.

For more help on how to sell a business, please read the free first chapter of ‘How To Sell A Business: The UK’s #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale” To get the free chapter, go here:

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business.  Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”

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Living in the business exit void

Business Exit

Business ExitThe Business Exit Void

Whenever I was asked, ‘what will you do after you sell your business,’ I always responded that I’d start a new business but do it better, quicker and easier. I knew that once I completed my business exit I’d take a 10 day holiday and then start building a new empire.

Goes to show you how much I know myself (or don’t know). After my business exit I dabbled in a bit of this and a bit of that. I went to meetings, considered consultancy, attended a monthly business club, wrote a book on the nature of reality, became a Day Skipper (yachting), started being an at-home parent, set up a website and another and another and soon settled into a void. Nothing seemed to excite me. I would create a business plan or empire and then the following day think, ‘no…I don’t really want to do that.’ My plans to start on a new adventure didn’t seem to materialise.

Luckily I had enough money to coast for a while so finding work wasn’t a short-term necessity. But after several months I wondered if I was lazy – perhaps I didn’t like to work. Perhaps the only reason I did create a successful company was because I was in it for the money. And if that’s the case am I going to have to bumble along until my money runs out and I have nothing to show for all my hard work. (Can you see a crisis coming on?)

I’m sure there are many business owners that exit and know exactly what they’re going to do but this ex-business owner became a lost sheep. I had defined myself so much by my previous job that I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted or even what I really enjoyed doing. By the time of my exit I was disillusioned with the business world. Part of me wanted to buy a house on Fiji and become a Yoga guru and another part of me wanted to get my mojo back and start something fun and interesting. I didn’t know what I wanted nor did I fully understand my options. I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

Rewind a year previous and I felt stuck, trapped, undervalued, and overworked. Yes – it was my company and yet I felt stifled by it. I wanted to be free! And then after almost a year of negotiations, uncertainty, doubts and sleepless nights my wish for freedom came true. Free at last. Now what?

The reasons to exit and the business exit process can be so consuming that life after the business doesn’t get attention. And perhaps that’s okay. Since my departure I’ve done a lot of soul searching and can honestly say that I now know what it means to follow my heart rather than my head. Rather than doing what I was good at, I took a back seat and let my boat drift around while taking stock on what I liked, didn’t like and where I wanted to go.

It’s taken over a year for me to get my mojo back but this mojo is different. Rather than jump into doing what I’ve always done, I’ve taken my time and changed my entire lifestyle. I’ve gone from being a control freak stressed business owner workaholic to a calm, centred enthusiastic entrepreneur with a portfolio of fun and interesting projects. I’ve learned how to create a life I want to live rather than work endlessly to enjoy a life later.

So whether you are just starting out on your business exit journey or are nearing the end I thought I’d share my living in the void story with you. At least if it happens, you’ll have the comfort that it’s not just you.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”


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Should I Tell My Partner I’m Selling My Business?

Selling My Business

Selling My BusinessGuess what honey – I’m Selling My Business

When I told my husband that I wanted to leave my business he thought I was ‘going through a phase.’ A few months later when I told him that I resigned as an employee he started to take me serious. Before my dramatic upheaval, everything seemed perfect in our lives. We had a nice big house, a beautiful 2 year old, holidays to the Caribbean and the security of a nice pay cheque and growing business. In fact, the company was so prosperous that my business partner and I had been taking out 10k/month, for over a year, to reduce our shareholder loans. Life was good, but I wasn’t happy.

I’ll save my detailed reasons for wanting to leave for another article, but to sum it up after 8 years I was bored, tired and in need of a lifestyle change. That aside, when I told hubby I quit my job he freaked out. In fact, I think he walked around stunned for 3 months. He couldn’t understand why I would ‘throw away all my efforts just like that.’

Fortunately, my exit was less painful than most – at least regarding the transaction. I wanted to sell the company yet my business partner wanted to keep it. To make a long story short, he purchased some of my shares, I quit the company and the rest is history. The journey from A to B however was a rough ride.

Do I regret telling my husband? No. I suppose I had to tell him. I was the main breadwinner so it would be unfair not to. Furthermore, I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. I had no idea what the end result was going to be.

On the flip side, if I kept it quiet and after the journey ended, said, ‘Guess what honey – we now have quite a bit of money and I can spend time with you and baby Sienna, but I’m no longer a majority shareholding in my company,’ I’m sure his response would have been very positive.

The amount of business owners I know that have kept the sale secret is substantial and I can see why. And often after a first failed attempt, the amount of secrecy increases. It’s hard enough to prepare for an exit and endure the emotional roller-coaster but to add to it your partners’ fears and worries can often cause insanity. I might seem a bit dramatic but selling a business (or exiting your business) can be heart wrenching. All the time, money, love, dedication – your whole life wrapped up into back and forth negotiations over a sum of money and a way to walk away. And to make matters worse, it’s difficult to think of a future when your present is so tied up in such a large transaction.

So if you’re not sure about when or whether to tell your partner/spouse the business is up for sale, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Can your partner handle dealing with uncertainty?
  • Will your partner be able to support you rather than add to the pressure?
  • Will your partner be upset if you don’t tell him or her?
  • Can you tell your partner in a way that helps them to feel comfortable with the plans?
  • Will your partner have a serious adverse reaction if the sale falls through?

If you do choose to tell your partner your plans, the one thing I would recommend is to keep quiet on the offer amounts. It’s bad enough if you sell for £3 million when you initially expected £10 million but adding your partners’ disappointment makes things even worse. Furthermore, I’d set the expectation that these things take a course of their own – selling a business can happen fast and you can get the value you feel you deserve or it could take ages or not happen at all.

And a final bit of advice, whether you tell your spouse or not make sure that you have someone in the business community that can act as an independent mentor throughout the process. Either a business ‘white-hair’ that has seen it, done it and has the t-shirt, or a business minded friend that can help you along the journey.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”


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5 Tips To Do Before Selling Your Business

To Do Before Selling Your Business

5 Tips To Do Before Selling Your BusinessTo Do Before Selling Your Business

When selling a home there’s an industry term called ‘curb appeal’. When potential buyers are interested in a property, they often do a drive-by first to qualify whether further progress in the process is worthwhile. If the property looks untidy, dirty, in a state of disrepair or tired the potential buyer might deem the appeal to be below the threshold of future interest. If, however, the property looks appealing (from the curb) a viewing is more likely to be requested.

The same goes for a potential buyer interested in a business purchase. The qualifying process is somewhat different, nevertheless curb appeal does have the ability to make or break a sale.

But in relation to selling a business, where is the curb and what is the potential buyer looking at? And what are the tips to do before selling your business?

Let’s first explain the business sale process to demonstrate where curb appeal fits in.

For the process of selling a business, to progress, a seller first needs to express the offer. The offer will include a brief outline of the opportunity, some figures and the nature of the business. At this stage, the business itself will not be disclosed so the buyer needs to decide to move forward if the offer (on paper) looks interesting.

If the buyer expresses an interest, and after signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), they will then get more in-depth details including the name and location of the company for sale within the Memorandum of Information (MOI).

Curb appeal kicks in after receiving the MOI.

Once the potential buyer gets the MOI, one of the first things they will look at is the sellers’ website and online presence. This covers the website, blogs, published papers/books, Twitter page, Facebook account, Linkedin profiles and so on.

The buyer may be looking for an opportunity for a good return on investment or they might want to add on complementary products or services to the current range they offer. The reasons for buying are numerous but despite the reasoning, curb appeal will have an effect.

And how does curb appeal affect the Business Owner?

So, imagine Mr or Mrs Business Owner sitting in the car (office) along the curb looking at a house (your business’ online presence). What are they going to think? What gut feeling will they get when they see your marketing messages, testimonials, communications and overall look and feel? What are they going to think about your ability to handle online complaints?

Are they going to get excited? Will they sit up straight or perhaps lean forward closer to the screen to gain a deeper understanding about your business? Is it possible that they will quickly see the potential and will be eager to take the MOI with them to a local coffee shop and really examine the opportunity? Is it possible that the potential buyer can even envision a future where they share the website link with friends (after the sale) with pride?

You might think that a website is superficial and easy to replace but that’s not the point. Even seasoned property investors have troubles visualising the potential in something with low curb appeal. And frankly, why make it hard for a buyer to clearly see the full opportunity. I’m sure you’ve worked hard at building your business so don’t let something like curb appeal lessen your chances for a successful sale.

That being said, I’m not suggesting that sellers spend loads of cash and lots of time to seriously recreating their online presence. What I am saying, however is that sellers need to appreciate the power of curb appeal and use it to their advantage.

So here are 5 tips to do before selling your business.

Before allowing buyers to peak into your windows, do the following:

  1. Ensure your branding is consistent across every platform your company is involved with. The easiest way to do this is to ask your admin staff to print off the main pages of your website, your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin pages in addition to any other area that has your business profile or details on it. Once you have all the printouts, make sure that they all have the same logo, same tag-line, same profile wording, same imagery and so forth. The aim is to demonstrate that your online presence is consistent. No buyer wants a company that has different logo’s, random profiles and outdated content stretched across the net. You can also do this exercise with your off-line client facing documents.
  2. Update your copy! Many business owners throw up a website or profile, put up a few testimonials and mention relevant information yet neglect to update it. Nothing’s worse than seeing a testimonial dated 2005 or seeing that the last time the company had news or a press release was in 1998. It doesn’t take long to look at the main pages and make sure that the copy reflects recent times. Take a look at all of your online communication points and make sure they’re up to date. If you haven’t tweeted in 6 months, get back onto it. There are several automated systems now available so playing the, ‘I don’t have time’ card won’t work.
  3. Consider refreshing the website with new images. You want to make the business look fresh, exciting, clean and relevant. By simply swapping out old images you can give the site a new look with very little costs. Check out for a wide range of beautiful photographs and other imagery.
  4. Do damage control on any bad reviews or public complaints. No one is perfect and everyone accepts that businesses can make mistakes. Furthermore, most people realise that there are a few chronic complainers out there just to cause pain to business owners. That aside, getting a few complaints isn’t the problem – it’s how you deal with the complaints that can get you into trouble. If someone has given you a bad rating or complained about you on a third party website (regardless as to whether the customer is in the wrong) it’s now an absolute necessity to deal with the complaint (if you haven’t already done so). You don’t have to accept blame but you do need to accept responsibility. If there are any complaints on the Internet about your business, respond to them publicly and professionally and ask to take it ‘off-line’ so that you can remedy the situation. Hopefully once a remedy has been made, you can also ask for the commenter to write another comment espousing how helpful you were.
  5. Be truthful. Make sure that your website is truthful and truly represents who you are (as a business). You don’t want to have information that says you have a staff of 50 when there are only 5 of you. Nor do you want to show images of a white sparkly office building when it’s actually a brown run-down abandon warehouse. When a potential buyer comes to visit and doesn’t see what’s expected they’ll quickly wonder what else is misleading.

Don’t let curb appeal distract would-be potential buyers from buying. Take a few days to assess your online presence, updated it and deal with any potential problem areas.

Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”