The Entrepreneur’s Corner

Is now the right time to sell your business?
Some business owners are asking themselves a difficult question, “Is now the time to sell?” They missed cashing out in the great run up in value during the middle of the last decade and have worked diligently to restructure in the “new economy.” And they now think this is as good as it’s going to get for a while.

Business owners have devoted significant time and effort in retooling their businesses, only to see their own pay diminish. Or certainly pale in comparison to what they once made. Now with the economy looking like it will take a considerable amount of time to rebound, has a fatigue factor set in? Are owners burnt out and feeling that the effort to rebuild will take too long to pay off?

If you are at that point, how do you determine if your business is salable? First, assess your cash flow. Any business owner has learned over the past three years that cash flow is critical and that will be the starting point for any prospective buyer. If your cash flow is steady and measureable, at least there is a determinable value.

Next, consider the state of your businesses’ records. A potential buyer will want to examine financial information. The more organized and complete, the easier it is for a potential buyer to evaluate what they will be purchasing.

Third, honestly evaluate your revenue trends. If your top line has flattened out, consider what options are available for a new owner. If sales have been decreasing, is there an end in sight or some mitigating factors? A reasonable explanation may make your company more appealing and offer some value to a potential buyer.

Lastly, how transferrable is your business? Do you have customers that would be willing to deal with someone else? A new owner will only pay for a business that will still have customers coming in the door long after you have departed. The more entrenched an owner is with customers, the more difficult a transition will be.

So while it may seem like it’s bad timing, businesses are bought and sold in every market. Both strategic and financial buyers will be searching for opportunities to invest capital that will give them a better than market rate of return. If you can demonstrate that your business is worth a price, a deal can be made. So maybe it is the right time to consider a sale.

Edward T. Blair, CPA is a Partner of Witt Mares, PLC, a regional accounting and business-consulting firm. He is a certified family business advisor who regularly assists businesses with exit strategy decisions. He can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone at (804) 323-0022.
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