It is important to determine your long-term plan after you sell your company. This helps you answer the “why” when it comes to selling and allows you to make confident decisions throughout the sale as a result. The goal and vision discovery stage should occur either right after you decide to sell or while you are still in the decision-making process. Once you establish your goals and vision, you will move to determine your company’s value drivers. However, for this guide, in particular, we exclusively focus on goal and vision discovery.
The Decision to Sell: The Hardest Business Decision for an Owner
This review focuses on the goals and visions for your exit strategy and the sale of your company. At this point, you have likely already made the decision to sell your company. However, it is important to keep your company’s overall value in mind as it is often directly linked with your goals.
So, let’s recap what is included in your business valuation. First and foremost, your financial information is considered. After all, this is the number one thing potential buyers will want to review. However, there are other elements of your business that may not show up in a financial report but still provide value. Below we take a look at both the financial data and more specific and nuanced elements of your business industry that can play a role in your value and goal and vision discovery.
A Review of Your Financials (and Other Data)
Your financials are usually the starting point when determining the value of a company. This is essentially your company’s resume. Your financial information shows your revenue generation, the worth of your assets, your expenses, and more. Specifically, during a valuation, your broker will consider the following financial documents:
- Federal tax returns
- Profit and loss (P&L) statements
- Balance sheets
- Inventory reports
- Asset lists
- Employee lists
Your broker will calculate metrics such as your seller’s discretionary earnings (SDE) and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). These metrics are important during the marketing negotiation process.
The Specific and Nuanced Elements of Your Business and Industry
Of course, your business value encompasses much more than your finances alone. There is a range of non-financial elements that can influence value as well. These elements are far too often overlooked when selling your company. By taking the time to identify them, you can formulate a more accurate idea of your company’s value and how much you can expect to receive in a sale, which helps you establish your post-sale goals. These elements may include:
- Geographic location
- Growth potential
- Quality of workforce
- Intellectual property
- Reason for selling
- Customer concentration
The Beginning of Your Sales Journey: Establishing Your Goals
It is important to establish your goals before you begin the sales process. This allows you to make decisions with conviction and confidence, and you can help reduce and eliminate feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty.
The fact is many business owners who are planning their exit strategy already have an idea of what they want their future to look like. For some business owners, their future involves retirement, allowing them to spend more time with family and play more golf. For others, their professional career is still in the early stages, and they may have numerous other business ventures they would like to pursue.
In other words, every business owner is unique, and their long-term exit strategy goals and visions are unique as well. Although many sellers have an idea of their future, it is important to go beyond the vague ideas and dive further into the specifics of what your personal and business goals may look like. This helps you actually achieve your goals and vision by allowing you to take the necessary steps now to make them become your reality.
Below we discuss examples of personal and business goals you may have for your retirement. Keep in mind, no two business owners are the same. Your goals should be personalized and adequately planned with your family. Your business broker can also help you plan the manner in which you approach attaining your exit strategy goals and vision.
There are many examples of personal goals you may have. When determining your personal goals, do not think about what your goals would be If you sold your company. Instead, quite simply, think about what you want for yourself in life. In other words, what is important to you regardless of whether or not you sell your company? This allows you to think more clearly and feel more comfortable if and when you sell your company as you know the answer to the question “why?.” Some examples of personal goals you may have are:
- Spend more time with my family
- Take more time doing things I enjoy (i.e. golf)
- Travel more now that the kids have moved out of the house
- Move to a quieter, more peaceful area
- Reduce my overall stress level
- Improve my physical and mental health
Financial and Business Goals
If you are ready to retire, then your list of business goals may be simpler. However, regardless of where you are in life, you likely have goals for your financial future. For instance, if you are retiring, then you may be more interested in establishing a trust fund and/or creating passive income. If you are younger and still have a passion for owning and/or managing businesses, then you may have more ambitious desires. Here are several examples of business goals:
- Immediately secure my financial future by selling my company
- Create an investment and wealth management strategy
- Start a new business venture in an industry where I have more passion
- Invest in a company that I believe in and support
- Start a new business with one of my friends or family members
What Do You Want Your Future to Look Like?
The purpose of the goal discovery phase is to figure out where you are headed and what you want your future to look like after you sell. We have discussed this at length above. However, for additional assistance in discovering your long-term exit strategy goals and vision, ask yourself the following questions about what you want your future to look like after the sale of your company is complete.
- What is most important to me?
- What are my concerns and worries?
- What are my biggest priorities?
- What opportunities are available to me after I sell?
- What strengths, talents, and capabilities do I possess?
Questions to Ask During The Goal Discovery Phase
We recommend asking yourself a series of questions to help you discover your long-term exit strategy goals and vision. It is best to find a quiet space where you can freely think, and then write the answers to each question.
What are The Biggest Obstacles That I May Face and How Can They Be Eliminated?
First, you should determine the biggest obstacles (or dangers) you face and how they can be eliminated. By doing so, you can better identify some of the primary reasons you are interested in selling at this moment. Keep in mind, this should be entirely personalized based on your situation. However, some examples of common obstacles business owners face and can help eliminate by selling their company are:
- Your stress level is too high
- You have a lack of available time for your family
- You do not wish to go through another down economy
What are The Biggest Opportunities That I Should Focus on and Capture?
The opportunities that you focus on are largely driven by the stage you are in with life. For instance, if you are ready to wind down your professional career and focus more on your personal aspirations, then your “biggest opportunities” are going to look much different than someone who is young and full of energy and financial motivations. There are numerous possible opportunities you could write down. Here are several examples:
- The business is big enough for me to comfortably retire
- My children (and grandchildren) are still young, allowing me to spend more time with them during their formative years
- There are new business ventures and opportunities that hold excellent financial potential
What are My Biggest Strengths That I Should Reinforce and Maximize?
Next, you should consider the biggest strengths you have to offer. This helps you plan your sale and helps maximize the sale price. Examples of strengths you may be able to present to potential buyers include:
- You have great operating systems in place that allows for anyone with business experience to come in and take over your role right away
- There is incredible potential for business growth with the company if the buyer is willing to invest more
- There is continual business growth year over year and excellent trends and projections for your industry
Also, these strengths may also help you plan your exit strategy goals and vision. For instance, if some of your strengths are leadership, motivation, and high employee morale within your company, then you could consider planning a semi-retirement where you are a motivational speaker in a part-time capacity. Of course, this is just an example of many ways your strengths could factor into your long-term exit strategy plans, goals, and vision.
Planning Your Exit Strategy? Contact Sigma Mergers and Acquisitions
Sigma Mergers and Acquisitions helps business owners plan their exit strategy. The goal discovery process is a key part of your sales journey, and we take this aspect of the sale seriously. If you have questions and/or would like to get started with a free, no-obligation business valuation, then contact us today.