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Selling Should Be an Item on Every Business Owner’s To-do List

12/01/2017


​​When is the right time to start thinking about selling your business? The day you buy your business.

Even if you don’t plan on making an exit for 20 years, there are many benefits to keeping your exit in mind as you build your enterprise.

There are very few situations where the owner gets to throw the next owner the keys. In most cases, it’s simply not that easy. But there are steps you can take throughout the life of your business which will make transition and succession easier while also contributing to your legacy and the business as it grows.

You’re only going to sell your business once. For that reason, it’s important to address any critical factors today to ensure your company is structured for the best possible outcome in any market.

Timing

For a large number of the millions of small- and medium-sized business owners in Canada, retirement is not a distant issue that can be bumped down on some future to-do list. According to Statistics Canada, almost half of small business owners are 50 to 64 years old, while more than one in 10 are already 65 or older. When it comes to medium-sized enterprises, more than half of the owners are aged 50-64 while almost 15 per cent are 65 or older. It will take far longer to transition out of your business than you think, so if you are in this age group, the sooner you start planning for your exit, the better.

Transition

Working on a succession plan over time helps you grow value in your business, boosting the bottom line and ensuring your organization runs smoothly today, tomorrow and well into the future. Thoughtful and effective succession planning also helps you prepare the business for a transition, ideally at a time of your choosing. You’ll know where to look for a successor and that your enterprise is prepared and positioned for a sale at the best price possible – ensuring a strong future for your business, while also allowing you to exit on your own terms.

The right buyer

When you know your business and your succession plan well, the process is much easier.

You will know if you want to hand it over to a child or children and if so, whether they have the skills and knowledge for a seamless transition. You will also have a fair plan in place for children who may not want to be directly involved in the enterprise. And (most importantly) you will have a plan that allows you to enjoy your retirement to the fullest.

Or maybe you will decide to sell to members of your management team. If your life savings and retirement income are tied up in your business, you and your successors will have plenty of time to work out financing and training to ensure a low-risk hand over.
If it’s a third party that works best for you, our Corporate Finance team help you find the perfect buyer.  More often than not, the people who buy a business are not people the owner knows or would have even considered.  

Value

While your business has been invaluable to you, it’s important to have an arm’s length idea of its valuation, both as you build a successful and thriving enterprise and later on, as you prepare to sell.
Once you understand the value in your business, you will have a better understanding as to how you could better position it for success both in the short and long-term. Are there changes or investments you can make now that will increase your bottom line, along with the value you will eventually get from a sale?

The biggest driver of value is profitability – the more profitable, the more it’s worth.

As part of a solid succession plan, an in-depth valuation of your business. The detailed analysis contained in a business valuation will provide you with an indication of the future potential for your company and is an essential element in developing effective and strategic succession plans. In situations where you’re not ready to sell, we can do an analysis to help you see how to improve profitability to your own immediate benefit. Invest in your business to make your life easier, whether you’re selling or not. In the longer term, the more profitable the business, the more it will be worth when you are ready to sell.

That kind of long-term planning can include bringing in second-tier management, investing in accounting systems or improving inventory tracking. The better the information your system generates, the easier it is for a buyer to analyze.

The goal

Ideally, you want to make yourself expendable. The more the business relies on you, the longer your transition period is going to be when you choose to sell it. In the end, you want to structure your business so soundly, that will run well no matter who is at the helm.

For more information, contact Brett Franklin, CPA, CA, Senior Vice President and Director for MNP Corporate Finance Inc. at 204.775.4531 or [email protected]