By Jane Johnson
For many business owners, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating – especially for those who were planning to sell their businesses. And many of us are still in survival mode. But once things settle down, we encourage you to view this slowdown as an opportunity to renew your efforts and focus on rebuilding the value of your business with your exit in mind. Here are a few suggestions for where to start.
Drop products and services that are no longer profitable or relevant. Focus on what makes money. Mining customer reviews and communications are a great way to figure out if there are areas where you can adapt or update current products or services to better align with your customers’ needs or wants.
Think creatively to take advantage of new opportunities. Are you able to deliver your current products or services in different ways than you have previously? Can you leverage technology in new ways to more cost effectively reach prospective customers? And remember that building recurring revenue into your business is an excellent way to increase value.
This will give you a chance to uncover areas that need to be improved long before a potential buyer’s scrutiny or due diligence. Consider having your financial statements reviewed by a CPA and evaluate your cash flow management. Take a hard look at your sales and marketing processes.
Look for and shore up weaknesses such as bad debts, undocumented policies and procedures, the lack of written job descriptions, insufficient employee non-compete agreements, environmental issues, and so on. Carefully track what is impacting your business now, so you can see where adjustments need to be made.
Exit planning is an essential process that will help you define your personal goals, determine how much money you need to net, maximize your business value, and select an exit strategy.
The COVID-19 crisis is a strong reminder that we are not in total control of our businesses and we cannot simply choose an exit date. We never know when challenges will arise and the opportunity to exit may disappear. Rebuilding your business with your exit plan in mind will enable you to determine how much you need to grow before you can exit, stay focused on what really matters, and maximize your wealth.
High-quality, profitable businesses and well-prepared owners will be well positioned to exit and achieve their goals when the market recovers. Take control of your future and be ready to go to market on the rebound wave.
Jane M. Johnson, CPA, CM&AA, CBEC
Jane is the President of Business Transition Academy Inc. and is the co-author of Cashing Out of Your Business – Your Last Great Deal.
Jane created Business Transition Academy in 2013 as an educational platform to provide the most comprehensive, impartial exit planning education, tools, and resources to business owners. Their best practices and information empower owners to make more informed critical decisions about their exit and improve their chances for a successful outcome.
Jane is a CPA, Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor, Certified Business Exit Consultant and a trained family business advisor.
"The entire process went smoothly and professionally. The BTS team kept me fully informed at every step. They worked hard and were effective in bringing the deal home."
"Skip and I continue to be grateful for all you have done to make the sale of Pure Flow come to fruition."
"BTS’s level of expertise in the process and close attention to detail enabled us to successfully navigate the deal."
"These types of transactions are often long and complicated and I doubt it could have been successfully completed without your close ongoing involvement."
"The outside objective point of view that you have brought us has been invaluable as we prepare for the rapid growth."
"John then found the right buyer and coordinated a seamless transition—he doesn’t miss a single detail."
"John immediately identified our strengths and experiences and discussed a business that ultimately was more in line with our goals."
"The BTS team came in, evaluated everything in a professional and thankfully non-threatening manner."
Questions That Owners Consider
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Use the Threat to Better Prepare
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The passing last week of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen – famous for his theory of business disruption - is a good time to consider business risk.
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Precision Machining Company
Initially, liquidation was a serious consideration. It would offer a quick exit but would hurt loyal employees and disrupt the customers who had come to rely on its quality production.
Green Product Company
Our client owners could dig in for the long haul…However, this would take five years or more. Owners simply lacked the horsepower to do it.
Water Purification Company and Young Buyers
Owners decided they wanted to retire. They also wanted to be fair to the staff who had been loyal to them. Could the company be sold, the staff retained and the facility remain in use?
Magnetics Company with High Profile Customers
(T)he manufacturer would need to focus on growing EBITDA to capture interest from major strategic buyers and achieve a higher multiple of earnings.