Congratulations! You took your business from a concept to a company. You identified a problem, assembled a solid team, built a solution, and grew revenue. But now, you have fresh ideas and new plans. You’ve made the decision — it’s time to move on and sell your company.
That’s a hard conclusion to reach, but it may be even harder to determine where to go next. After all, your expertise lies in running a business, not selling one. Who do you contact? How do you market your company’s value, not as a product or service, but as an asset? A lot of moving parts go into a successful sale, and each one needs to fall into place perfectly.
You want the biggest possible return, but you also want to make sure you sell at the right time, to the right buyer, for the right price, and under the right conditions. You want your business to thrive even after you’ve departed.
With so much on the line, you need to find someone who specializes in sales transactions and can both prepare the business for acquisition and coach you on how to maximize the deal. That person is likely to be a mergers and acquisitions specialist.
What an M&A specialist can offer you
Hiring an experienced specialist will bring more value to your company’s sale in six key ways:
1. A higher payday
The primary reason you want to consider hiring M&A specialists is the most pragmatic: They help you realize a larger payday than if you were to go it alone. Selling businesses is their specialty, so they’ll know best when it comes to maximizing value. Once, my company worked to sell a regional trucking business. Initially, the company was valuated at $27 million, but after working with us, we positioned it for sale at $67 million.
2. A fresh perspective
Applying an industry multiplier to your revenue or earnings only goes so far — it likely won’t unlock your company’s full worth. A fresh look at your business’s value drivers will point to value you never would have noticed on your own.
When we worked with the regional trucking company, we discovered proprietary logistics software was behind its competitive advantage. We also discovered that the majority of the payload they moved was energy-related equipment and supplies. So we encouraged the team to brand its business as an energy logistics firm. Because logistics companies carry higher valuations than trucking companies, the firm’s selling price drastically increased over what the owners thought it would be — without the firm having to significantly alter its operations or boost revenue.
3. Better access to buyers
Because this is their specialty, M&A specialists know the field. They have access to buyers and know what those buyers want to accomplish. This means your business will be marketed only to serious buyers, those for whom the company holds the highest value.
Do-it-yourself sellers often assume the best route involves contacting another company in the industry and positioning the company as value-added capacity. While that may provide a benefit to the buyer, it’s probably not going to generate maximum value for you. The best value is more likely to come from identifying a buyer with either a strategic or financial interest in expanding into your part of the industry. An M&A specialist understands this, and he or she is in a better position to find that type of buyer for you.
4. Falter-free operations
When you hire an M&A specialist, you and your team can continue doing what you do best — maintaining operational effectiveness in your business. Remember: You aren’t in the business of selling companies; you’re an expert in running your business. For the company to remain attractive, it needs to continue operating at peak efficiency. Take care of your business first, and then let your specialist concentrate on the sale.
5. Discretion without distraction
Specialists work with full confidentiality. They won’t reveal your identity until potential buyers are ready to move forward. Your business will operate free from rumors and the distraction of uncertainty, which can feed a frenzy of speculation by employees, customers, and competitors. They also vet serious buyers to ensure your efforts are justified when you enter a sale’s due diligence phase.
6. A done deal
With an M&A specialist managing your sale, the chances of striking a deal are much higher. It’s estimated that 60 percent of business owners who try to sell on their own aren’t able to. It may be that they’re too close to the business to be objective or too busy running their company to effectively market it. Whatever the issue, the results will likely be in the ballpark of frustration, pressure, and eventual financial compromise.
Selling With Confidence
An M&A specialist costs money, but the benefits of hiring one drastically outweighs the price. You’ll see your business realize its full value and transition to a buyer worthy of taking over, all while maintaining operations without too much stress.
Leaving a business you’ve built is hard, but being able to do so knowing you’ve gotten the best deal for yourself, your employees, and your customers makes it much easier. An M&A specialist will help you accomplish that.