New job applicants get haircuts, shine their shoes, and practice their interview skills while preparing to hopefully land a position. Those seeking to sell a home often repaint inside and out, primp the landscaping, and clean from top to bottom before hosting an open house.
And a business owner who hopes to receive a fair price for his or her company would be wise to engage in such “dressing up” activities as well. While it may go without saying, putting your best foot forward is always the best strategy to maximize the value of any sale.
The Importance of Seller Objectivity
Achieving a sale at the price you want means that you should look at your company as objectively as possible, problems and all. This prepares you to counter any buyer’s objections or degradation of your company’s value, and allows you to maximize assets and minimize (or at least be prepared to handle) flaws.
Recognize that it is easy to get an inflated sense of importance, especially when a stranger comes calling with an interest in buying your company. After all, starting and running a successful company is not an accident, nor a matter of luck. Long-term business success requires a combination of intelligence, guts, and hard work.
As a consequence, many owners assume interested buyers understand the business opportunity and profit potential of their company. They presume that an acceptable offer will be forthcoming, only to be surprised when the would-be buyer tells the owner that their baby – the company – is ugly.
Getting the highest price for your business requires a thorough understanding of the opportunities and threats facing your business. Potential buyers focus on the future of a business, not its past. Accordingly, why would any potential buyer be interested in your company? Does it offer unique products or services? Does it dominate its geographic and industry markets? Does it have capabilities and capacity that are difficult or expensive to replicate?
Buyers are most interested in those companies whose products and services are in growing markets with unrestricted pricing flexibility or obvious expense reduction possibilities. They seek under-utilized – but valuable – assets that can be exploited, especially by the potential purchaser. Similarly, any threat to the business must be identified, quantified, and strategized.
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