Digital Marketing

Characteristics of a Successful Business – M&A Transactions

Many companies do not reach their potential valuation or maximum sales price. While there is no perfect business without flaws or challenges, businesses that sell at the top of the valuation range or have the highest multiple incorporate a number of common characteristics.

1. Increase revenue/profits. Cash is the fuel of business. Companies that have strong financials with year-over-year growth in revenue and earnings will be in demand and should achieve an attractive valuation.

2. Clean books. Having accurate, detailed, up-to-date, and professionally prepared financial records and statements is one of the most critical components to a successful business sale.

3. Bright prospects for the future. Companies that operate in an industry that has strong prospects for continued growth in the coming years will be highly sought after.

4. No customer focus. A company that has a diverse and broad customer base will have a lower risk that the loss of a customer will have a material impact on the company’s revenues and profits.

5. Multiple providers. Businesses with a diversified product and/or service offering with a large number of vendors and partners will be a less risky purchase than a business that relies on a single manufacturer or service provider to generate revenue.

6. Stable workforce. Having a loyal and happy workforce with long-term employees is always a positive attribute for a buyer looking to acquire a private business.

7. Established Processes. A company that has written procedures detailing workflow and operational processes provides greater continuity during a company’s transfer of ownership.

8. Owner not the business. Businesses where the owner lends his experience working “in” the business vs. “inside” the business are less likely to experience a loss of revenue during a sale. Owners who have become the face of the business where they are one of the main reasons customers use their products or services create challenges for the new owner in retaining these loyal customers.

9. The business qualifies for acquisition financing. A business for sale that qualifies for acquisition financing from an SBA-backed bank or lender will benefit from its ability to market to a broader audience. Certain issues prevent third-party financing from being secured, including poor financial performance or messy books with unreported cash and questionable additions.

10 Professional advisers. Successful business sales require a team of professional advisors who are experts in their designated field. Members should include an experienced M&A advisor or business broker, a business attorney specializing in transactions, and a CPA with knowledge of tax structuring and asset allocation. Experienced advisors are worth their weight in gold and will add value that far exceeds the fees involved.

Owning a small business involves some level of risk. The price at which a company is valued should reflect the degree of risk. While the element of risk can never be removed from small business ownership, the ten characteristics outlined above should alleviate many of the issues buyers worry about when looking to buy. This, in turn, will allow maximizing the commercial value and the sale price.