The prudent outlook of the Business Owners:
As is often the case, business owners are totally focused on the constant issues of running their business. However, if they are contemplating the sale of their company it is time well-spent to contemplate their business value in the eyes of the ultimate buyer.
The cash flow that the business generates is KING, as this almost single-handily determines the value. The “almost” comes from other considerations like the balance sheet, the barrier to entry, and growth opportunities … to name a few. Therefore, their cash flow needs boosting, if practical, and this, of course, comes from either increased sales or reduced expenses. The business owner may determine this will require some difficult changes (e.g. termination of an employee, expansion) and prefer that the new owner make the tough decisions. However, it should be understood that the transactional valuation will rarely include savings that have not been reflected on the income statement.
Irreplaceable business owners makes a business much less valuable to a buyer! It is imperative for business owners to understand that if after the sale there is no involvement in the business potential new owners will be concerned with who they will hire to take over. If the buyer is an industry buyer (strategic) there could well be someone within the buyer’s organization who can run the newly acquired company. However, if the buyer is a financial buyer this candidate can be more difficult to locate. Therefore, if the seller has an interest in running the company post-sale or if there is someone within the organization that is either now in-charge or is capable of running the company, then the buyer will more confidently move forward and enhance their valuation.
Growth opportunities that should positively affect the company’s revenue are exciting and powerful. In most cases, the potential buyers are buying based on a value derived from the business’ historical numbers but are using their own projections based on their assumptions for future growth. This growth fuels their optimism about the investment and therefore pushes the value upward. So, expansion opportunities such as additional products, additional sale territory, and additional sale force, as well as, improvement in overhead costs etc result in increased enthusiasm for the potential buyers. Enthusiastic buyers equates to better offers.
Bottom Line: “Business owners should look at their business as they would if they were the buyer so focus on improving the cash flow and be ready to discuss the future growth opportunities”, says Emmett Barnes, President of The Montana Group (www.montanagroup.com).