In this video Richard Alberg discusses the two triggers of a business sale and compares the strategic planning process for each and explains why selling a business isn't easy.
Strategic planning process for a business exit
It’s not easy. It can be easy but often if it is easy you are leaving money on the table. In our experience there are two triggers for an exit. The first is, someone comes to you and asks, would you be interested in selling? You suddenly scratch your head and think maybe I would. Then you need to decide whether you are going appoint advisors and go towards an auction process where you offer the company to others. The second alternative is where you decide in the very beginning that now is the time to come to market and indeed you actions over the preceding year, two years, have all been about insuring you are ready to come to market, that means anticipation of a due diligence process, so everything being in order, that means having a management team in place so that any acquirer knows that if they buy the business and you, with your pockets full of money decide to go off into the sunset, the still have a business that is going to be effective. So all of that thinking has to take place before hand. Then when you do go out to market, then it’s nerve wracking, then it’s the big stakes outcome, so your meeting people who can transform your life through their decision to buy your company and buy it at a value that you’ll like. That process can take months and months, if you are running an auction, there is going to be a little bit of brinksmanship between the different participants, you’re going to want to push for maximum value, that means at time you’re going to risk the deal itself. So all of these elements are nerve wracking on top of the day job of running a company. And then, at least in my case, the day I sold the business, the day I went to my lawyers office to sign the paperwork, it was a very odd day. On the one hand this was everything I had worked towards, on the other hand it was also selling my baby, and that was a very emotional process to go through. It was the right thing to do but it wasn’t an easy thing to do.
Exit-planning can never be given too much emphasis according to Oliver Woolley, who discuses investor attitudes to exits in this TV show.
Investors and exit-planning
Most of our investors, we say they walk into the room backwards. In other words the moment they go in they’re looking for how they’re going to get their money out. And one of the biggest challenges for our investors is the fact they’ve got a lot of money tied up in illiquid stock, ie private, unquoted companies. And so what we focus on is exit-planning for companies, almost from you know, within the first six months of putting the investment in. And under EIS the investment has to be in there for a minimum of three years, so we’re typically looking for businesses to exit within the three to five year period.
Inside Finance will continue to follow ideas around exit-planning and related subjects.