A useful article with various pointers about early preparation for anyone with a future intention to realise value from their business. Two points spring to mind reading this article:
1. From our experience all business owners would know that preparation for due diligence is critical to avoid any "deal-breakers" but very few actually go through the detail and therefore most of those same entrepreneurs are likely to describe due diligence as a tough, surprisingly testing, experience. As ever the devil is in the detail and thinking you are prepared is never as good as running through a formal exercise that unearth's the surprise areas that you never knew needed fixing.
2. The second point is that the 3 types of buyer described resonate, and again, would it not help your future planning to undertake some 'market research' into those acquirers in order to understand the critical value drivers from an acquirer's perspective in advance? Whilst this is something all businesses do to understand their own customers, very few undertake a similar learning exercise when it comes to the biggest transaction they will ever undertake. Many of the best exits are achieved by those who have really understood their acquirer's aims without simply 'putting the business on the market'.
Identify the right buyer for your goals. By understanding the different types of buyers, sellers can focus their time, efforts and resources on those things that will maximize the company’s value. Buyers fall into three categories: strategic, financial and internal. Strategic buyers want a trend of growing profits based on strong product or service development, technology advances, as well as strong market share and brand recognition. Financial buyers want free cash flow, growing revenues, strong management teams and systems. Internal buyers want a company with generally strong financials, solid balance sheets, good corporate cultures and diverse product lines. And do your diligence on the buyers to the same extent they do diligence on the company.