It has been said that the sale of a business is usually event-driven. Very few owners of businesses, whether small or large, wake up one morning and think, “Today I am going to sell my company.” It is usually a decision made after considerable thought and usually also prompted by some event. Here are a few common “events” that may prompt the decision to sell:
Boredom or “Burn-out” – Many business owners, especially those who started their companies and have spent years building and running them, find that the “batteries are starting to run low.”
Divorce or Illness – Both divorce and illness can cause a rapid change in one’s life. Either of these events, or a similar personal tragedy, can prompt a business owner to decide that selling is the best course of action.
Outside Investors – Outside investors may include family, friends, or just plain outside investors. These outside investors may be putting pressure on the owner/majority owner in order to recoup their investment.
No Heir Apparent – In this scenario, no family member has any interest in the business; and the owner has not groomed his or her successor. Unfortunately, in this event the owner often continues to run the business until he is almost forced to sell.
Competition is Around the Corner – In this scenario, the owner would have been better off selling prior to competition becoming an issue.
A “Surprise” Offer is Received – This may be about the only reason not truly event driven; an unsolicited offer is presented that is too good to pass up.
Everything is Tied Up in the Company – The owner/ founder sometimes becomes aware that everything he or she has is tied up in the business. In other words, all the eggs are in one basket.
Should Have Sold Sooner – Owning a small to midsize company (or even a large one) is not without its risks. A large customer goes under, suppliers decide to increase their prices, trends change, business conditions change, etc.
Surveys indicate that many small company owners do not have an exit strategy; so, when an event does strike, they are not prepared. Developing an exit strategy doesn’t mean the owner has to use it. What it does mean is that a strategy is ready when the owner needs it.
A professional intermediary can supply a business owner the real world information necessary not only to develop a plan, but also to know how to implement the plan when it becomes necessary.
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