Want to Sell Your Company in 2019 – Do These 4 Things Now

Buying a business For Buyers For Sellers Selling a business Valuation

Posted by Ron Buck on

If you are considering selling your company in 2019, back by popular demand are four things you should be doing (or not doing as the case may be) between now and year end and over the next few months.

A little exit planning background before we tackle the to do list.  According to a recent study by Business Enterprise Institute (BEI):  “79% of business owners plan to exit their businesses in the next 10 years.  However, the survey shows that a majority of all business owners have not identified all of the steps necessary to exit their businesses successfully, and fewer still have created written Exit Plans.  Despite understanding the importance of planning in a successful exit, most owners have not yet identified all of the necessary steps to exit their businesses successfully.  Fewer still have (a) hired and/or trained employees to take over business responsibilities and (b) obtained a business valuation, both of which are critically important to a successful business exit, regardless of the chosen Exit Path.”  So, if you are a few years away from implementing your exit strategy, now is the time to start planning, obtaining a valuation, and getting the company in shape to sell and maximize the sales price.

Now for the tactical steps you need to do in the next few months if you are planning on selling in 2019, or even 2020. 

First, plan now with your accountant to be first on their list of tax returns to be completed in 2019.  Buyers and bankers prefer to see tax returns for the most recent year and will not give full weight to internally generated P&Ls.  So plan early, talk with your accountant, and get yours done early – don’t get caught in the March/April crush with everyone else, and by all means, do NOT plan on filing an extension.

Second, don’t Give Up $2 to Save 30 Cents by expensing unverifiable, undocumented personal expenses that we won’t be able to add back to your cash flow calculation.  As the linked article explains, it is a terrible trade-off as the title indicates.

Third, now is NOT the time to aggressively manage your year-end taxes – particularly if you are simply accelerating expenses and deferring revenue recognition.  This is more detrimental to your overall financial gain than Giving Up $2 to Save 30 CentsIn this situation you are literally only saving the net present value of the interest income from a year’s delay in paying the inevitable tax, but could be decreasing your company's valuation and your gross proceeds. 

At this point of your exit strategy, your financials should reflect the fundamental earnings capacity of the business so that potential buyers can clearly see the cash flow and profitability opportunity in front of them.  With the exception of contributing to retirement accounts, paying for health, life, and disability insurance (all of which are easily documented and added back) and perhaps a few other items, have an in-depth discussion with your accountant and M&A Advisor and leave the tax and accounting gymnastics out of the equation.

Fourth, continue to focus on revenue growth and bottom-line profitability.  Positive trends show buyers that the company has a viable value proposition, is competitive in its market place, and can generate the cash flow needed for the buyer to cover their debt service and earn a return on their investment.

With a little planning, forethought, and discipline, your actions over the next few months can significantly improve the prospects of selling your company, successfully executing your exit strategy, and maximizing your net worth.