The First Steps
Okay, let’s assume that you have decided to at least take the first few steps in the initial process of looking into actually selling your business. Before you even think about selling there are a number of things that you need to do to ready the business for sale. We are experts at preparing sellers to ready themselves to go to market. The earlier you contact us, the better prepared you are and in turn, usually you have a better opportunity to maximize value in a sale. Call us, be here are some things you should do first.
The first thing you have to do is to gather information about the business.
Here’s a checklist of the items you should get together:
◾Three – five years’ profit and loss statements
◾Federal Income Tax returns for the business (same period as above)
◾Ownership add-backs, perks, benefits, etc. while leaving management in place
◾List of fixtures and equipment
◾The lease and lease-related documents
◾A list of the loans against the business (amounts and payment schedule)
◾Copies of any equipment leases
◾A copy of the franchise agreement, if applicable
◾An approximate amount of the inventory on hand, if applicable
◾The names of any outside advisors
If you’re like many small business owners, you’ll have to search for some of these items. After you gather all of the above items, you should spend some time updating the information and filling in the blanks. You most likely have forgotten much of this information, so it’s a good idea to really take a hard look at all of this. Put all of the above in a neat, orderly format as if you were going to present it to a prospective purchaser. Everything starts with this information.
Make sure the financial statements of the business are current and as accurate as you can get them. If you’re half way through the current year, make sure you have last year’s figures and tax returns, and also year-to-date figures. Make all of your financial statements presentable. It will pay off in the long run to get outside professional help, if necessary, to put the statements in order. You want to present the business well “on paper.” As you will see later, pricing a small business usually is based on cash flow. This includes the profit of the business, as well as the owner’s salary and benefits, the depreciation, and other non-cash items. So don’t panic because the bottom line isn’t what you think it should be. By the time all of the appropriate figures are added to the bottom line, the cash flow may look pretty good.
Prospective buyers eventually will want to review your financial figures. A Balance Sheet is also very important because a buyer needs to understand the working capital needs of the business. Buyers want to see income and expenses they also want to know if they can make the payments on the business (more on this later) and still make a living. Let’s face it, if your business is not making a living wage for someone, it probably can’t be sold. You may be able to find a buyer who is willing to take the risk, or an experienced industry professional who only looks for location, etc. and feels that he or she can increase business.
PREPARATION AND BUYER RESEARCH ARE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SALE PROCESS!!
That’s what the experts at Carpenter Hawke & Co. do!