Defending Your Asking Price

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When you’re putting your business on the market, one of the top considerations is your asking price. Once you have a fair price established, let’s take a closer look at how business brokers and M&A advisors work with their clients to back up that price with details concerning why it is justified. 

Telling the Story

A key aspect of defending your asking price is telling the story of your business. Your brokerage professional will help you go over the details of the story so it is properly conveyed to prospective buyers. Buyers, of course, will want to understand the story behind the business so that they can understand its history and why it is for sale. You will want to feel prepared to interact with prospective buyers and how to discuss details concerning its value. 

Your business broker or M&A advisor will put together written materials about your business. These also help buyers gain clarity on the story of your business and its sales message. 

Seeing Your Buyer’s Perspective

It goes without saying that a big part of coming up with your decision of the asking price is that you want something that sounds not only reasonable but also attractive to buyers. We recommend trying to view the entire transaction from the buyer’s perspective. The buyer must be able to see how they will successfully own and potentially operate the business, as this is essential for fostering a completed deal.

Another consideration is, how will they pay for the business? In many cases, it can tremendously benefit a transaction to offer assistance in the way of seller financing. Seller financing can speed up the process, as you will not be so reliant waiting for the bank loan process, which can drag out for months. 

The Complexities of Your Asking Price 

The process of establishing and then justifying your asking price is not always simple. It is a symphony of moving parts, and it’s important to feel educated and involved in the process. Ultimately justifying the asking price is the launching point of the process, but it is also just the beginning of the journey towards the completion of a successful deal.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Common Legal Mistakes That Sellers Make

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Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a business owner like a legal mistake. The best way to ensure that you will avoid serious legal issues is to work with a trusted and experienced team. Otherwise, it’s easy to accidentally miss necessary steps. 

When you’re selling a business, there are a lot of moving pieces, and that means that there are ample opportunities for things to go wrong. It’s always best to be prepared. When mistakes are made, it can not only mean a significant expenditure of your time, but also your money. These kinds of issues can also bring your sales process to a total halt and perhaps derail your deal completely.

There are more than a few sellers who overlooked the importance of working with an attorney. When you are selling a business, it should come as no surprise that there is a great deal of paperwork. Your attorney will guide you to make sure that all necessary preparations have been made from a legal perspective. When your prospective buyer sees that your legal “ducks are in a row,” he or she will feel more confident in your organization and level of professionalism.

One document that often is skipped is the Letter of Intent (LOI). Sellers assume that things will move along more quickly if they forego this document. Keep in mind that the LOI truly has its place in almost any deal. After all, it not only outlines both parties’ expectations in writing, it also works to protect your best interests. Once projective buyers have signed this document, it proves they are serious about the deal. That means it is not so easy for them to walk away without consequences. 

What if your deal falls through completely? Will your buyer then reveal to the public that your business was for sale and even the potential terms that were on the table? This could indeed occur if you were not backed up by an NDA. Don’t skip this very important document either. Your business broker or M&A advisor will be very well acquainted with NDAs and guide you in the best way possible. 

Warding off these kinds of issues is one great reason to be equipped with a small team of professionals to turn to for advice. This team should include your business broker or M&A advisor, accountant, and attorney. 

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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What Does the Road Ahead Look Like?

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Each quarter, the Market Pulse Report issues a report revealing information about market conditions The report is supported by M&A Source and the International Business Brokers Association. The data that is analyzed is based on a comprehensive survey of business brokers and M&A advisors. The report focuses on Main Street businesses (with values up to $2MM) and the lower middle market (values between $2MM and $50MM.) 

The research is conducted and then the report is published each quarter to reflect the state of the industry. In this article, we will look at some of the key takeaways of the report and what it reveals about the path ahead for buyers and sellers.

Tracking the Labor Shortage 

For the second quarter, the report revealed a variety of interesting information. One massive data point from the report is that the labor shortage continues to be a significant variable for business owners. A staggering 92% of report respondents state that the labor shortage has negatively impacted their business with 54% stating that the shortage has had a “very negative impact” and 35% stating that the impact is “somewhat negative.”

Closing Times

The report further indicated that it is taking about seven months for a business to close. They noted that it takes about six months to a year to sell a well-priced business or a well benchmarked business. The report noted that approximately 60-120 days are spent in the due diligence or execution stage, once the letter of intent has been signed. 

The Strongest Industries

In terms of what kinds of businesses are selling, the report points to restaurants making a solid comeback. It is interesting to note that restaurants valued from less than $500K to $1 million are enjoying a particularly strong rebound. Business services, personal services, construction and manufacturing remain steady. 

In Summary 

The latest Market Pulse Report is pointing in several directions. Currently, three factors are impacting business owners, namely, the labor shortage, inflation, and supply chain issues. Many businesses have had no choice but to give large raises to employees, and others have been able to pass the costs on to consumers and buyers.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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What Will Your Buyer Be Looking For?

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The buyer loves your business; it’s just what he or she has been looking for.  He has reviewed your financial statements and has made an offer contingent on several items.  You’ve reviewed the offer and it looks fine, so what’s next?  The contingencies in the deal mean that the buyer or his or her advisors have some concerns.  In larger deals, this process might be called due diligence.  However, in the smaller business sale, the items of concern are usually spelled out as opposed to a general review of everything.  The reason for this is that larger businesses or companies have a lot more areas of concern than the typical smaller business.

Most contingencies concern the review of financial statements and/or business tax returns.  Others may involve lease issues, the seller staying on for a set period of time, or some very specific issue such as repaving the parking lot, if the landlord won’t or isn’t required to.

Unfortunately, some contingencies may be hiding other ones such as a list of fixtures and equipment included in the sale.  Sounds easy on the surface, but the seller forgot that two pieces of equipment currently not in use need repair or the walnut desk in the office belongs to Grandfather Smith and is not included.  Or, while reviewing the lease, the buyer discovers that the landlord requires that the business must close by 9:00 PM or some other restriction applies and was not disclosed. Deals have fallen apart over similar issues.

Most contingency problems can be resolved prior to the business being placed on the market.  The seller should do all of the following:

  • Check the status of all furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E).  Remove any that are not included in the sale or are inoperable if not in use –  or make repairs.
  •  Review any contract such as the lease, any equipment leases, and contracts that will be assumed by the buyer.  Make sure there aren’t “clinkers” in them. If there are, disclose them to a potential buyer out front – and be sure your business intermediary is also aware of them.
  • Be prepared to answer questions such as:
    • Are there any environmental, governmental or legal issues?
    • How long will you be willing to stay and work with a new buyer – at no cost?
    • Will the employees stay?
    • Why was last year the worst one in years?
    • Why was last year the best one in years?

The list could go on and on, but sellers need to be ready. Buyers don’t like surprises.  A business broker professional knows the process like a book and can be invaluable in preparing the business for the marketplace.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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Storytelling and Its Role in Selling a Business

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When it comes to selling a business, there is more to it than just relaying the facts. It’s also important to emphasize the story behind the business. Business brokers and M&A advisors are also storytellers, as they must convey to buyers the story behind the business and how it can ultimately be transformed. 

It is through storytelling that humans organize the information they have about the world. In short, storytelling is an exceptional way to learn lessons in life and a great way to frame information about a business to sellers. 

Telling Your Story

Everything begins with the financials, in short, the facts of the business. When a business broker or M&A advisor begins working with a seller, he or she will look to gather those details. Once that information has been gathered, it is possible to begin to create a story. That story can be presented in many ways, including through a confidential business review or confidential information memorandum.

While many, if not most, buyers and sellers may think that when it comes to business, they are cold and methodical like a reptile on the hunt, the truth is more complex. Human emotion always comes into play. It is no accident that well-crafted stories, with their power to motivate and guide, play a role in the art of buying and selling businesses.

Decisions are Guided by Emotion

If we want to make the best decisions, it is important to consider the role of emotions in our decision-making. “In order to have anything like a complete theory of human rationality, we have to understand what role emotion plays in it,” said scientist Herbert Simon who is an American Nobel Laureate. [1]

Good stories grab the imagination and enable people to expand their definition of what is and is not possible. When buyers are considering buying a business, it is important that they can picture themselves as being the hero that transforms that business and takes it to a new level. It is a story of evolution and reaching new heights while simultaneously achieving one’s own goals.

It is no accident that so many of today’s mass culture storytelling revolves around sequels. The notion that there is a “storytelling continuum” where a buyer can plug into something that already has a history can be a powerful motivating force. Most epic stories have the hero as part of some sort of continuum. In other words, the hero does not simply appear out of nothingness. It is the hero’s mission to transform the world, in some fashion, for the better.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/05/09/how-your-emotions-influence-your-decisions/?sh=7bda49da3fda

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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How to Transfer Your Business to a Family Member

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Are you thinking of transferring your business to a family member? This occurrence is fairly common, especially among small businesses. Here are some considerations that will help with your planning and decision making.

Do You Have a Good Contract?

Sometimes close family members are tempted to skip a contract, but it’s always a mistake not to have things in writing. When you create a buy-sell agreement, it helps keep things clear between the parties involved. Make sure that your documentation is thorough. It should cover a wide variety of details including the amount being paid, your continued involvement, and the business value. 

Does Your Family Member Need Financing?

When it comes to selling businesses to family members, seller financing is common. You could even consider agreeing to a private annuity. This will allow payments to be spread out over many years.  One benefit to providing financing assistance is that you will receive a steady stream of income along with interest on the loan as well. 

You could also consider a self-cancelling clause on your installment note. This would allow debt to attach to your will in case of your untimely passing before the payments were complete. 

Are You Selling or Gifting Your Business?

Gifting a business takes place more often than you might think, due to the tax benefits involved. Also, when you gift a business, you can still maintain some level of control. 

The federal gift tax exemption changes every year. In 2022, the annual gift tax exclusion is $16,000. The lifetime gift exemption limit is $12 million. While you may owe some federal gift taxes if the amounts exceed the exemption limits, the good news is that after you have transferred your business, any future growth of the business won’t affect your financials. 

Is Everything Accurate?

Unfortunately, many business owners have acted unethically when it comes to transferring their business to their family members. As a result, the IRS tends to give this kind of transaction extra scrutiny. You will want to ensure that all your paperwork is in proper order and highly accurate. 

You may very well want to hire the services of a lawyer and accountant to assist you with this matter. Of course, a business broker or M&A advisor will also help you with the details of this agreement and figuring out what benefits you and your family members.

Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.

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