In 2006, I looked down from the summit of the world. It was a sunny day and, standing 30,000 feet up, I could see the curvature of the Earth. Years earlier, my girlfriend had a goal – to climb the seven summits. It took us years of preparation, but we had made it to the ultimate summit – Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
I mention goals because as a business owner, you have the ability to exit well and make your wildest dreams a reality. So how do you get there? Much like climbing Mount Everest, it begins with a lot of preparation and planning.
Know the Difference between Financial and Strategic Buyers
A financial buyer, like a private equity firm or venture capitalist, has a goal of paying as little as possible. They are going to buy low and then sell high to a strategic buyer, thus maximizing their ROI. In this sense, a financial buyer is a middleman, and a strategic buyer is the end user. You can do that yourself, and if you target strategics, you will get more money from the sale of your business.
Think about Value
To target a strategic investor, you have to think in terms of what they may value from your company. Is it your intellectual property? Your technology? Your management strengths? Your customers? There are different valuations, so you must begin to put yourself in the shoes of the strategic buyer, figuring out what value they will see when they look at your company. Doing so will help you maximize the price when you exit.
Start conversations with strategic buyers long before you plan to sell your business. The conversation should not take the form of “I’m for sale” but rather “I’m a potential joint venture partner and strategic developer.” This puts you on the radar ahead of time. You should also take your time, not just try to get out to market quickly. Talk to several potential strategic buyers and don’t be afraid to bring internationals in too.
As a business owner, you must realize that it is your choice, and you can sell to a strategic buyer so long as you can leverage your products, intellectual property, management skills, and other strengths for strategics.
This ties into your own personal missions and goals because if you can maximize the value of your business when exiting by finding strategics, you will get more for your business. This gives you the opportunity to build a successful legacy and to help make the world a better place.
Planning your exit can help you reach your highest goals – even climbing to the top of the world. I encourage you to take a step back, set goals and make a difference in the world after the sale of your business.
If you had all the time, treasure, and talent that you need, what would you do and whatcould you do? Selling your business can help support your life goals, particularly if you use strategic selling to transform your personal success into significance.