What should a business owner do to prepare to sell his or her business some time in the near future?
Aside from right-sizing the business’s overhead costs to line up with its current level of revenue, and looking for opportunities the pandemic may be presenting, there are four things a business owner can do now to prepare to sell. And more importantly, doing these four things will mean that when a Letter of Intent is received from a buyer, the business will be very well-prepared to survive the due diligence stage of the sale.
As an intermediary, I have many conversations with business owners about how much their business is worth. As these conversations progress, owners realize that it’s not how much they make, it’s how much they can keep that truly matters.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a Procedural Notice on October 2, 2020 which offers business owners and lenders guidance on how Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans are to be handled when a business has a change in ownership.
This post summarizes the notice and includes an Infographic to assist business owners. It includes the following topic:
When does a Business Sale Require the SBA’s Approval Does a Business Sale Require the PPP Lender’s Approval or Notification Required Steps Pre and Post-Closing for PPP Borrowers SBA Timeframe to Approve a Sale or Merger when a PPP Loan Transfers Does the EIDL Grant Impose Additional Steps When Selling a Business
The COVID 19 Era has begun. In addition to lives lost, there’s an economic toll that has yet to be determined at the time this content is being written. With small businesses on life support, these are scary times for business owners and for the intermediaries helping owners navigate through them. So how has COVID 19 affected business transactions?
If you’re considering the sale of your business, or possibly the acquisition of another competing business, it’s important to understand the selling/buying process. An often overlooked and important first step during the process of buying or selling a business involves the negotiation of certain terms the buyer and seller will ultimately agree to at the closing table once the due diligence phase of the process is completed. If either party ignores the importance of the initial terms’ negotiations, they can often end up with a bad deal or no deal at all.
As a business intermediary helping owners determine the “Most Probable Sales Price,” or MPSP of their businesses here in the Triangle, I hear a common question: “That value makes sense, but what about all my stuff? Can I get paid for that too?” The answer is rarely what the business owner wants to hear, but there’s a sound reason for it, and understanding how businesses are priced can help an owner with decisions on how to allocate resources for assets; especially if they are planning to sell in the near future. In this article, we’ll explore the market approach for small businesses and what value the assets carry…
For many businesses, the ultimate goal is to sell the business. Can you picture it? Walk away from the daily stress and aggravation with a fat pile of cash. Hop a plane to your favorite tropical destination and spend the rest of your days lounging a white sandy beach, sipping pina coladas out of a coconut, without a care in the world.
Well, friends, the above scenario is the ideal scenario. I like sipping cold drinks on a beach as much as the next guy, and I hope that happens for you. But if you clicked on this article, you may be looking at a much different scenario.
And that’s what this article is going to cover: the less-than-ideal scenario.
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.
When working through a business sale, an inordinate number of resources on both sides of the table are dedicated to drafting and negotiating the Stock Purchase or Asset Purchase Agreement. This is true especially in the last one-to-two weeks before the closing. In fact, I’ve had clients remark that during their entire tenure as an entrepreneur, they never spent as much time speaking to their advisors as they did during the last week of their business ownership journey!
So you’ve decided to sell your business, but what structure is right for the transaction? Buyers and sellers often prefer different structures due to various factors which change based on the structure and which have different impacts on the parties. Generally there are three (3) categories of factors that drive the eventual structure of a deal: (1) business issues, (2) assignments and consents, and (3) tax issues.
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 an asset has a grossly inflated price, it is by definition an asset bubble. Does this apply to many small businesses in the US? Probably yes, in my opinion. Most small businesses have a balance sheet listing some assets; therefore they are subject to being part of a bubble.
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.
As markets recover post-recession, business owners are presented with growth opportunities. However, a business owner may not have access to the capital needed to execute on a growth strategy. Where does a business owner turn?
There are many pitfalls to avoid and precautions to be taken when contemplating the sale of your business to a competitor. In particular, selling a business to a competitor can have tricky antitrust implications that require much care prior to closing.
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.
Many business owners are under the wrong impression that their business debt will disappear when their business is sold. In some cases, the debt is absorbed or is assumed by the buyer. But usually this is not the case.
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.
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!
If you have ever endured the process of selling a business with the assistance of professional advisors who specialize in mergers and acquisitions, you will agree with me that this is not something to try at home!
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.
EBITDA is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization. EBITDA is often used as a measure of a business’s cash flow. Also it is used frequently in many business valuation formulas, depending on the business’s specific industry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The “indemnification basket” is one of the most important deal terms found in the Letter of Intent and ultimately in the Purchase Agreement and is often misunderstood by both the buyer and seller of a business. Buyers want the basket to be as low as possible and Sellers want it to be as high as possible. Baskets may be one of two types: a deductible basket or a tipping basket.
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.
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.