You’ve made the giant decision; it’s time to sell your business. Do you just hope someone comes and gives you two tons of money for your business or do you put together a team that can help you achieve your goals? I vote for the team that can help with your goals. Here are the people I think are important in helping you execute a successful sale and exit from your business.
Your exit-planning coach – I start with this position because this is the person who is going to help you recruit and manage the rest of your team and should be the first person you hire. This person will only get a fee from working for you. They are only responsible to you.
The job of the exit-planning coach is to help you develop a strategy for hiring all of the other people you will need to have a successful sale. The exit-planning coach is a generalist. They might have specific specialties, but as your coach they won’t be using them. Their job is to make sure the other specialists on the team stay within their specialty and keep your goals in mind.
The Investment Banker - This person could be also known as a business broker or mergers and acquisition expert. Their entire job is to help you value your business, find a buyer, and work with you through the sales process. You will want to find an intermediary who has expertise in transacting a deal that is what works best for your own particular circumstance and business.
Sometimes this person will be an industry expert, sometimes they will have expertise working with private equity groups, sometimes they know how to run a structured auction, and sometimes they might be experts at negotiated sales. Your exit-planning coach should be able to help you figure out what variety of investment banker you need.
Transactional attorney – You don’t want your garden-variety attorney for selling your business. You will want to have an attorney who specializes in putting sales transactions together. As you will discover selling a business is not for the faint of heart. Having an attorney who has tons of experience selling businesses in the situation you will sell your business will be very valuable.
Like the investment banker, there are attorneys who specialize in the type of sale you might contemplate. If you’re going to sell your business to a private equity group, having an attorney who understands this game came help you save a great deal of heartache later.
Financial Planner – Before you start the sales process you should know where you stand financially. Can you afford to sell your business and stop work or will you have to find a job after you sell your business? Most businesses will not sell for enough money to allow the owner to stop working. Having a financial planner that understands this will help add a dose of reality to the process.
Investment manager – After you sell the business, you’re going to need to figure out what to do with the money you receive. You want to make sure your investment manager is just that: an investment manager. If they also do financial planning then you have someone who’s focused is fractured. I suggest that a specialist in investment management that fits your worldview will serve you well.
Your Accountant – A great deal of the proceeds you receive from your business will go to taxes. You will want to have an accountant that understands the art of the deal and more importantly the art of structuring the deal in a tax efficient manner. There are many decisions you can make along the way that will impact how much you end up paying in taxes.
Like your attorney you may not want to use the CPA you’ve used for years. There are CPA’s who specialize in structuring sales. These people don’t spend their lives learning how to prepare income tax returns. They spend their time learning how to diminish the amount of taxes that are paid when a business sells.
I know this looks like an awful lot of different professionals running around your deal. Remember, this is likely the largest financial transaction you’re ever going to make. You get once chance to do it and you don’t want to screw it up.
Hiring competent people to help you sell your business is really important. Make sure you have a great process for hiring the right person to do the right job.
We have put together a complementary coaching process called The Exit Planning Assessment. This process provides a coaching call on eighteen key areas a buyer would look at in your business. You will have a call with no charge as well as a report that outlines a projected value of your business, the gap you could fill and strong and weak parts of your business. Click on the button below to start the Exit Planning Assessment process.