Many baby boomer business owners are thinking they "are ready" to leave their business in next 1-2 years and begin their retirement or third act in life. With the economy growing and the number of investors seeking quality businesses to buy, many are thinking it could be an opportunity to "sell high" and accomplish their financial goals.
If indeed there is a desire is to sell within 2 years, and minimal or no exit planning and pre-sale due diligence has been achieved to this point, following are a number of the key planning issues that should be addressed in the first 60 days:
- Establish owner-based exit goals (desired buyer, sale-price, values-based goals, etc.) and do whatever possible to prepare for life after the sale. Survey data indicates most business owners are not happy in life two years after the sale of their business.
- Select a transaction intermediary (Investment Banker or Business Broker).
- Get an estimate of business marketability and value.
- Begin tax planning and pre-sale due diligence.
- Assess and, if possible, enhance business value drivers.
- Take steps to protect the value of the business during transfer (i.e., employee incentive plans/stay bonus).
- Select the remaining needed members of your Deal Team (i.e., CPA, M&A Attorney).
- Review your estate plan and business continuity arrangements.
- Make decisions pertaining to a plan for communicating your plans to employees.
This is not an exhaustive list and only represents what should happen in the first 60 days. There is much more to do throughout the 2-year period to give yourself the best chance at a successful exit. So, an immediate priority should be the selection of a trained and experienced Exit Planner to assist with the management of the exit planning project. Typically someone is going to engage a knowledgeable project manager or general contractor to manage the process for building their "dream house". In selling a business, there is much more at stake than building a dream house.