Don't Be The New York Jets: Eight Winning Plays When Selling Your South Dakota Business

It is that time of year again and my favorite season. No, I am not talking about pumpkin spice season (although that may be a close runner-up). I am talking about football season. The time to enjoy Sunday ball games with family and friends and cheer on your favorite team. Now, I generally avoid making too many predictions. But I think it is safe to say this year that the New York Jets are in trouble. They failed to plan in time for this season and are not stuck with an abysmal outlook. I apologize to any and all Jets fans, but this year I recommend tempering expectations.

Like the Jets, many business owners fail to put a game plan into place for the eventual transfer and sale of their business. This lack of preparation results in unrealistic expectations and far less cash in their pocket. Making business succession something that is dreaded, rather than celebrated (much like the Jets’ upcoming season).

Selling your business for the best value requires teamwork, time, research, planning, strategy, preparation, networking, and commitment. It is not done overnight. If you are thinking about selling your business, whether now or in retirement, start the process now and follow the 8 winning plays below. Remember, failing to plan and follow a solid game plan doesn’t just lead to one loss…you lose the season and perhaps even your dynasty.

8 Things To Do And Not Do When Selling Your Business

Play #1 - Do not do it yourself.

You need a team to help you sell your business. The Jets’ current quarterback can’t do it alone and neither can you. DIY leads to costly mistakes that result in increased time and less money in your pocket. Include your tax advisor, financial advisor, and business attorney.

Play #2 - Why are you selling your business?

Think this through and have a clear understanding. Why we take certain actions plays a big role in how we approach certain transactions. If you cannot truly articulate why you are selling your business, then it may not be the right time. Remember, there more to making a good deal than getting a good price.

Play #3 - Do some spring cleaning.

Get your business in order. One great way to do this is to review a buyer’s due diligence checklist and go through your business from a fresh perspective. This often includes updating your businesses legal documents, reviewing operating procedures and manual, giving a fresh look to your sales and marketing approach, and ensuring your company's benefits are up-to-date and market standard.

Play #4 - What are you selling and how valuable is it?

You need to have a realistic expectation and understanding of what you are offering for sale and how valuable that is to prospective buyers. Starting the season thinking the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl will not lead to satisfying results for you (or the Jets).

Play #5 - Step into the buyer’s cleats.

Why would they want to buy your business? This requires a knowledge of your industry and other competition. What is your competitive advantage? What sets you apart from other businesses in your area? Understand how your business will be valued and appraised and take proactive steps to increase that value.

Play #6 - Understand your end game.

You do not want to sell an asset list. You want to sell a business opportunity. If you want to play in the Super Bowl, you can’t be concerned with every single game in isolation. You need to look at the whole package to have a winning season. Generate some excitement and buzz, but be positive, realistic, and honest. Unrealistic projections and overstatements will backfire. The Jets may win one game, but they are not going to the Super Bowl.

Play #7 - Plan for success.

Do not get stuck with one buyer. Plan on pursuing multiple buyers and reviewing multiple offers. Arrange meetings with your most interested buyers and bring them on-site. Get them more excited to buy your business, but do not offer anyone exclusive options yet. You determine who is interested first and evaluate the right fit for you and your business.

Play #8 - Keep an open mind.

The market will value your business, not you. Do not get attached to a “price tag” without first putting your business on the market. 

Developing a winning game plan that drives your business to the peak of success and leads to a favorable sale price takes time and work. Don’t expect to do it overnight.  At the end of the day, you know your industry and your business better than anyone else. Move forward with these eight winning plays and you will take the first steps in playing in the Super Bowl (just not with the Jets).

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones