With so much at risk, making the sale of your company a do-it-yourself project could be a huge mistake. Selling a business requires the experience only a professional has. Here are 10 reasons why one should not attempt to sell their own business and why hiring a professional investment banker makes sense.
1. Investment bankers can sell your business faster and for a better price
An investment banker has the resources, expertise and contacts to quickly locate the right buyers. Investment bankers are able to reach a greater number of buyers who will compete on price, meaning the seller receives a higher take-home figure. Investment bankers typically get offers from multiple buyers creating an auction, which gets the best price for the business owner. For-sale-by-owner deals typically involve one interested party, which results in a lower valuation.
2. More to deals than accepting an offer
Deals are much more complicated than just accepting an offer from a prospective buyer. Closing a deal involves, among other things, buyer due diligence, the buyer obtaining financing for the deal, and drafting a purchase and sale agreement. These are time consuming and technical processes. An experienced investment banker can expedite this process by guiding the seller toward closure.
It’s often difficult for business owners to maintain confidentiality when selling their own business. Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of selling a business. Investment bankers can act on behalf of the seller without disclosing its identity until seriously interested parties are identified and agree to maintain confidentiality before moving forward with more detailed information concerning the seller’s business. Investment bankers arrange for prospective acquirer meetings to be conducted off-site from the seller’s premises. And the investment bankers field all incoming indications of interest rather than having those calls come in through the company’s phone lines or email system.
4. Lack of expertise
Selling a business requires many different kinds of expertise such as being knowledgeable about financial statements, business valuation, legal processes, marketing and sales. Business owners often aren’t experts in all of these areas, and even with a great accountant and lawyer assisting, some areas of expertise will be lacking. Investment bankers have the knowledge and experience to expertly negotiate and sell the business and obtain a maximum valuation for its owners.
5. Investment bankers can better market your business
Unfortunately, there’s not a centralized marketplace or exchange to list a business for sale. However, a good investment banker has many options when it comes to selling a business and knows how to effectively market your company based on the current conditions of the market and what buyers are looking for. The investment banker has to create the marketplace by conducting research on the industry’s participants, creating a prospective buyer list and soliciting prospective acquirers. Additionally, investment bankers have access to theirs and their colleagues’ network of acquirers as well as internal proprietary buyer databases. They typically can reach more potential acquirers, including international buyers, than the typical business owner.
6. Trusted advisor
Having a trusted advisor in your corner can make all the difference when selling your company. Your attorney and accountant might be very skilled at drafting contracts or preparing financials, but most lack the marketplace knowledge required to sell a business. They are also not conflicted when it comes to the change of ownership. They know what is coming and typically will prepare the business owner in advance. They also stand ready to field inquiries from the sellers or their family members relative to the sale process and what will occur once the transaction closes.
It can at times be difficult for sellers to remain cool when negotiating the sale of their life’s work. This is their baby, but to the acquirers, it’s perceived simply as a commodity. The difference in perceived value will create friction leading to disagreements that can kill the deal. An investment banker acts as a buffer between the two parties and prevents heated discussion from taking place. The banker allows the seller to keep a poker face throughout the negotiation process. Furthermore, their experience allows them to immediately assess whether the prospective acquirer is being unreasonable or making valid requests.
8. Virtual data room
A reputable investment banking firm will have the resources at its disposal to create an electronic virtual data room. It’s an industry norm. The data room will contain all of the key information and documents for the prospective acquirers to review during the due diligence phase of the transaction. The investment banker will guide the seller as to what documents need to be populated in order for the buyers to complete their due diligence review.
9. Negotiating the best deal
This is more than coming up with a valuation based on comparables. Buyers will typically wish to structure the transactions in a way that’s most advantageous to them in terms of tax exposure, holdback provisions, contingent payments, post-sale employment agreements, and the always critical representations and warranties. The definitive agreement is an exceedingly complex document that requires a seasoned professional to review and negotiate.
10. Time consuming
Marketing, dealing with buyers, the legal process, business valuations—all of these activities require a lot of time, energy and focus to be executed properly. With an investment banker doing the heavy lifting, business owners can better spend their time elsewhere, like running their business. The trailing 12 months are always of great importance to prospective buyers. It’s not the time you want to take your eye off the ball. Let the banker handle this job while you handle yours.
Investment bankers have the skill and experience to get the job done right. You’ve worked hard to build your business and when it’s time to sell you want to make sure you get the best deal possible. Saving you time, energy and grief — a professional will make sure you have access to the best buyers and secure a premium price for your business.