When it comes to the sale of a business, there are a number of costs – both expected and unplanned – all business owners should understand before they agree to sell their business. A few of our Featured Advisors have weighed in, offering their expertise and perspective to explain the costs – from business broker fees and legal costs to hidden fees – as they relate to selling a business.
When things go wrong with the sale of a business the parties involved look for remedies in the liquidated damages provisions established in the purchase agreement. Such provisions are included when a purchase agreement has been signed in advance of an actual closing when the business is transferred and a purchase price is paid.
When a business is about to be sold, the parties to the sale may find it beneficial to establish an escrow agent to handle the transfer of certain assets and cash between the buyer and seller. Many times the parties agree to use the escrow account held by one of the party’s business attorneys. However, in many cases the parties prefer to hire an independent escrow agent to handle the assets and cash that will change hands.
Business Brokers and M&A Intermediaries may use or reference the ‘Lehman Scale’ when discussing their compensation method with a business owner contemplating the sale of their business. The Lehman Scale was originally developed in the late 1960’s and used by the Lehman Brothers when raising business capital for their clients.
If you are considering getting a patent, you should be familiar with the items that must be included in a patent application. Below is a detailed outline of the material you will need to prepare to patent your new invention.
Term Sheets or Letters of Intent (LOIs) are commonly used in the buying or selling of businesses. The purpose of LOIs are to state clearly the principal terms that the parties have agreed to as part of the deal and to represent the intent of the parties to pursue the contemplated transaction.
When people come to talk with me about patenting their inventive idea, inevitably this question arises: “How long will it take to get a patent?” When I tell them it will probably take close to three years, their jaws drop in surprise. “Really, it’s going to take that long?!??!!?!” YEP.
Indemnification allocates the risk of various post-closing losses between buyer and seller. For this reason, the indemnification provisions of your purchase agreement will very likely be among the most heavily negotiated provisions in your purchase agreement.
Many entrepreneurs faced with the demands on cash of a growing business are tempted to sell equity to outside investors, or perhaps give away stock to retain a valuable employee. Diluting your stake in this way may solve the immediate problem, but it can have unforeseen consequences when the business eventually is sold. Stockholders’ personal circumstances evolve in different ways over the lifetime of a company, and whatever the original intention everyone may not be on the same page when you are ready to sell.
You have endured multiple meetings with potential buyers. You’ve written dozens of emails and suffered through several rounds of negotiations to secure the best price and deal structure. At last you have decided on the offer to accept. That’s the worst of it over then? Think again – you have yet to experience the joys of due diligence and sale contract negotiation.
If you’ve grown a valuable business, there is no doubt your employees are a big part of your success. You also know that hiring, training, and managing a great team of productive employees is a difficult task. And keeping your best employees is yet another accomplishment! But the painful truth is your competition would be very pleased to hire away your best employees.
Recapitalizations can be used to provide liquidity to owners, refinance the balance sheet or fund future growth initiatives. When the owners sell a majority of the business but still retains some ownership, it is termed a “majority recapitalization”.
When the Letter of Intent (LOI) expiration date and time is defined, the buyer is putting the seller on notice that he or she must either agree to the terms defined in the letter or lose the opportunity to sell the business to the buyer authoring the LOI.
An intellectual property rights owner (licensor) authorizes certain rights to another (licensee) in exchange for an agreed payment in the form of either a fee or a royalty, or some combination of both.
Management Buyouts, or MBOS, can sometimes have a negative connotation. Maybe that’s because it sounds like the management team is getting “taken out”. On the contrary, it is the exact opposite. A Management Buyout is a fancy acronym for when the current managers buy controlling interest of a company from its owners. That’s a good thing for management!
Selling a business is one of the most exhausting endeavors an entrepreneur will undertake. Unfortunately, many simply do not succeed. In fact, only one out of ten entrepreneurs will actually complete the business sale process and transfer their business to another. Selling a business involves many different parties, all of whom have a special role and a unique skillset. Most importantly, they must all work together. Those entrepreneurs who succeed recognize ‘it takes a village to sell a business’.
Entering into a new contract is an exciting time for any company. The agreement is signed with the hope that it will grow the business and result in a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the other side. While such optimism is warranted, the importance of entering into a legally sound contract is critical to the protection of your business.
During the initial negotiations of a business sale, one of the primary issues is whether to structure the sale as an asset sale or a stock sale. Typically the seller and the buyer have opposing preferences in this regard. The seller generally prefers a stock sale; while the buyer generally prefers an asset sale.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the various options to incorporate multiple businesses while keeping each business as a separate entity. But what if you want to keep all of your businesses under one roof?
Proprietary information such as customer lists and recipes are intellectual property. However they are not formally protected in the same way as are trademarks, copyrights or patents. These and other types of confidential information can only be protected if they are treated as trade secrets.
It takes a special kind of person to start a business: a rare combination of drive, ambition, creativity, tenacity and impatience for action. But even within the community of business experts and entrepreneurs there is a special breed of person known as a “serial entrepreneur.”
Your worst nightmare comes true! You get an email on Friday afternoon from your largest customer indicating that they are changing suppliers for “strategic reasons.” They represent 20% of your sales revenue and 35% of your profits.
When you started your small or family business you more than likely developed a business plan. In this plan you laid out your purpose, vision, and strategy in great detail. As your business grew you created contracts, invoices, marketing materials, and other documents, all on paper, so that you had written evidence to signal agreements, to showcase your work, and to provide the necessary leverage should you ever have needed it.
It is a unique pleasure to find two equal partners or shareholders acting in harmony over selling a business. Unfortunately, when I say “unique”, I mean rarely ever. Please understand, it is not as if this never happens. It is just so unusual, that when faced with the situation, I find myself warning both parties before they proceed to sell their business.
A patent is a governmentally granted monopoly that gives an inventor the exclusive right to make, use, or sell their invention for a limited time, in exchange for disclosure of that invention. There are three types of patents: design patents, plant patents, and utility patents. Generally utility patents are being referenced when you hear the word ‘patent’ and these will be the focus of the rest of this article.
If you have the opportunity to buy or sell a business, negotiating the terms of a letter of intent (an “LOI”) is one of the first and most critical steps in the process of completing the transaction. A well-written letter of intent provides a valuable foundation for a potential transaction as it captures the parties’ intentions with regard to the structure, timing and material terms of the transaction. An LOI often imposes significant obligations on each of the parties, and consequently is typically the product of fairly intense negotiations between the parties.
For every entrepreneur, a smooth transition of business ownership will be of importance at some future point. The Buy Sell Agreement deals with a specific exit strategy case. An agreement by and between business owners, it establishes a mechanism for the purchase of ownership interests following the departure of an owner due to a triggering event (i.e., death, divorce, disability, retirement, etc.).
When you sell a business, typically you will find language in the Stock or Asset Purchase Agreement that defines exactly what the Seller and the Buyer agree to do or guarantee as part of the transaction. In other words, each may agree to make the other party not responsible. The term used to identify this particular form of guarantee is indemnification.
Throughout the lifecycle of a business, it is important for a business owner to remain focused on increasing the profitability, competitive advantage and market reach of the business. An entrepreneur typically accomplishes these objectives by (i) reinvesting the profits of the business to increase its workforce, customer base and cash flow and (ii) using business profits (along with other financing) to acquire competing businesses. Such business acquisitions typically serve two purposes by eliminating competitors and increasing the growth rate, product and service offerings, and market share of a business.
A typical entrepreneur invests a tremendous amount of time, effort and money in building a business. That is why it is so important for entrepreneurs to make sure employees and third parties who work with the business are prohibited from improperly using or disclosing any confidential or proprietary information of the business(e.g. customer lists, trade secrets and financial statements). Similarly, and in connection with the opportunity to sell a business, it is critical for the owner of the business not to provide any confidential information to a prospective purchaser until that party has signed a well-written non disclosure agreement.
Many people discuss the importance of pivoting in the context of a startup business. And I agree, once a business launches, the entrepreneur must be mindful of what is working and what is not. That’s when it is time to pivot the startup.
Before I share with you part two of my story about my own need to execute the business continuity plan as a result of my sudden and extended illness, I want to thank those of you who reached out to me to express your concern for my welfare. Thank you. Truly, I am doing very well and I very much appreciate your good wishes!
There are ways to improve the likelihood you will achieve a successful sale of your company if you take the time to develop ground rules with your business partners. The sooner you do so in the process of selling a company, the better.