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 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!
Do you have a website? Do you have images on your website? Do you know where those images came from? Truly, do you? If you didn’t create the images yourself or you didn’t license the images from their owner, you are probably violating copyright infringement laws. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t know; innocent infringement is still infringement!
To sell or not to sell, that is the question many business owners ask themselves at least once during their tenure as business owners. Sometimes, the decision to sell is easy if the owner is ready to retire or has decided to pursue a new career or business opportunity. However, in many cases, business owners struggle with this critical decision. Fortunately there are several steps you can take to make an informed and stress-free decision on whether to sell your business now, later, or not at all. In all cases seek the advice of several third party professionals such as a Business Attorney, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Business Appraiser and/or Broker, and a Financial Advisor as well as consultants in your industry.
Debt Service Coverage Ratio compliance often is required or necessitated by covenants in a bank loan agreement. A bank loan covenant regarding the debt service coverage ratio will specify the amount of income a business and/or its guarantor must generate relative to the debt principal and interest payments on an annual basis to remain in compliance with the covenant. The business owner, or his or her CFO or Controller, should monitor this ratio carefully on a monthly basis so the covenant is not unintentionally broken.
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.
People often overlook the attitude of the buyer and how greatly it can affect the outcome of the deal. Confidence is key.
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.
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 a customer’s total revenue for the year represents 8% or more of all revenue for the same year, you have a customer concentration risk.
The reasons for selling a business are many and varied; in the end, however, the desired result is the same – money. So how does one go about maximizing profit when selling a business?
Check out the website of your favorite fast food chain and you will see most have multiple business entity structures noted in the fine print. For a large business, this practice has been commonplace for decades. It involves layering one form of a business entity either alongside or in conjunction with an operating business.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act there is a distinct difference between an independent contractor and an employee. This difference lies mainly in the way they are paid and the way taxes are withheld. Understanding the difference between them and times when both are appropriate to use can help business owners determine which is best for their situation.
Often, business owners ask me one of those “quick questions” – what can I do to maximize the sale price of my business? The answer? Not as simple as you may think. But there are 4 factors that can increase the value of your sale price.
The Bank Workout Group is a department in a bank that handles what is known as the bank’s special assets. Banks send their troubled loans to this department to handle negotiation and management of the bank’s forbearance agreements.
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!
The DBA is often misunderstood, but it can be a valuable way to structure a business and gain some protections of your rights as a business owner. However, you need to make sure you know the limitations of a DBA to protect your intellectual property and trademark rights.
A copyright protects the particular ways by which people expressed themselves. A copyright gives an owner the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute an original creative work.
One of the most common questions I get from small business owners is, “when do I need an employee handbook?” In a perfect world, an employee handbook would be part of the startup protocol, but that usually isn’t the case. In the midst of building a website, working on business development and actually putting together a sellable product, writing policies and procedures is not top of mind.
In the recent Apple-Samsung case, the jury found that Samsung infringed six of Apple’s patents. While we think of Apple as having such technological superiority, three of the patents that Samsung were found to infringe were design patents. Unlike utility patents which cover any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; design patents cover any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
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.
The many years of hard work and long days at the office may be about to pay off—you have just received an offer from a potential buyer to acquire your business. Just as you developed and followed a detailed business plan to build your business, now you need to develop a well-thought out plan covering the sale of your business, paying proper attention to the due diligence process.
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.”
One of the most crucial, yet subjective, aspects of any business valuation is determining the specific company risk premium of the business being appraised. The specific company risk premium varies with each company and is intended to be an adjustment to reflect a variety of circumstances inherent in the company and its industry.
Intellectual property is a concept that is not obvious to most people; you probably have heard of it, but what is it really? Intellectual property is the result of human ingenuity and creativity and the law provides mechanisms through which creativity can be protected. Intellectual property can be broken down into three parts.
Anyone who owns a family business is intimately familiar with the blood, sweat, and tears associated with building and then keeping the business viable. Nevertheless, it is not unusual for the business entrepreneur to postpone consideration of various issues involved in transferring the business to the next generation, including determining the value of the business.
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.
When considering your business valuation and business risks in the hopes of selling that business, there are many factors to consider. One important factor to understand is the application of valuation discounts. The valuation of a controlling interest versus a minority interest within a privately held business can have different values, depending on the circumstance.
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.
When applied in a business situation, Pareto’s Principle likely will reveal to the entrepreneur that thier business is serving (at least) two very different sets of customers/clients. And in trying to do so, he or she and their staff will suffer anxiety, frustration, and the loss of company profit.
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.
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.
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!
Bankers and Entrepreneurs rarely see eye-to-eye. Recently, my observation of this unfortunate reality caused me to chuckle as I sat with one of my clients and her business banker. What made me laugh was how two extremely accomplished individuals could define the term “special assets” so differently.
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.
It never ceases to amaze entrepreneurs how certain seemingly simple decisions, made during the early years of their business startup, can become fatal errors down the road. After meeting with many business owners across a broad spectrum of industries it’s common to find them enduring the consequences of the same, or similar, errors over and over again.