6 Questions to Ask When Selling or Buying Your Business

There are two critical things a buyer of a business is looking for and these are cash flow and potential. They may be willing to compromise on almost any other thing but if the cash flow’s not there to provide an income to sustain their family and livelihood, service the debt of the business and include a buffer in case they need time to re-establish upward momentum in the business and the industry the business is in is declining, then it will be a challenge to close the sale.

If the cash flow and potential are good, consider the following 6 questions to help present the business to the market. And a Golden Rule I use when helping buyers and sellers is to put your feet in the shoes of the other party, that is, don’t see things from your perspective, see them from the perspective of the other party.

1. Does the business present itself positively and therefore have buyer appeal? We’ve all heard the expression – does it sizzle? A buyer wants to be excited about the business and what it does. Making sure it has plenty of sizzle and presents itself well to the market is very important. In residential real estate it’s called “curb appeal.” Make sure the business presents well and has good “curb appeal.”

2. Who is the best buyer of the business? Not every business can be bought by every buyer. Criteria that may exclude a buyer, depending on the business, include technical skill sets or mandatory qualifications.

3. How is the neighborhood around the business? If the business is located in an attractive mall or in an upscale area it follows that it will attract a similar clientele. This would obviously be more attractive to a potential buyer. Incidentally, this doesn’t mean the business is worth more, as some sellers expect, it just means if the business is valued and priced correctly it may have a better chance of selling.

4. Most sellers can quickly explain what they would do if they had more time. This can be useful talking points between the seller and buyer. Most qualified buyers will be looking for things they can do better if they owned the business. As we said above, potential is critical to a business buyer.

5. What is the buyers risk level and how easily can it be quantified? Buying a privately held company comes with a lot of risk; unaudited financial statements, changes to the law that affect the industry the buyer is looking at joining or changes to the tax laws that affect how much money the buyer as the business owner gets to keep, and more. As the seller, you have a lot of business and industry knowledge. Don’t be afraid to share your observations without couching it in terms of guarantees or future expectations of the performance of the business.

6. Does the price and terms of the deal pass the “smell test?” One of the services I provide is business valuations as well as machinery and equipment appraisals. After doing all the research to arrive at the final value I always do a “smell test” to make sure the figure arrived at makes sense. If it doesn’t, it means doing more research. The “smell test” or “gut check” is a great way to keep things real.

Buying or selling a business is complicated. It’s generally a series of questions with follow-up questions looking for one final yes. It requires patience and stamina as there are so many moving parts.

8 Compelling Reasons Every Employee Should Start A Part-Time Business

The most common route for most people to take after graduation from college is to look for a job. Very few people make up their minds from the onset to go into business for themselves.

Majority shy away from business for many varied reasons even though it never occurs to them that paid employment is actually work for someone who is running his or her own business.

Even when you work as an employee, it is not always possible from the outside to find and get work in the right environment. By the right environment, I mean one where your employer enables you to find fulfillment in working there.

Unfortunately, only very few organizations are able to do this for their staff and that is why there is so much dissatisfaction in the work place environment.

Some organizations believe they are doing their staff a favour with the employment offer and so believe employees should be contented with earning their pay and should never have a reason to be dissatisfied.

Such organizations are simply unaware or even bothered to understand what things their employees consider important as a driver of productivity.

On the other hand, most employees are unable to come to the decision to go into business for themselves because they are practically unable to come up with the right reason(s) to make up their minds.

Fear of the unknown, that is, moving from a comfort zone of earning a regular pay check, to one of perceived uncertainty of regular income is usually the motivating factor that keeps them hooked to the job.

If you are working in a great environment where things are working for you, I am most happy for you and sincerely hope your employers would continue in that tradition to make it great for everyone and not just you and a few others.

However, if you currently work in an environment where majority are dissatisfied, then I want to use this article to give 8 compelling reasons every employee of that place or similar ones should start a part-time business. Here we go:

(1) Business ownership: No matter how long you work for an organisation, there will most certainly come a time when either you must leave or you will be asked to leave. The only exception to this could be when your parents or relative who owns the business and believes in your ability passes it on to you. This should be reason compelling enough for any employee to start a part-time business. Whether you like it or not, that day will come so you should have some other venture to carry on when it eventually happens.

(2) Time: As an employee, your time is controlled by your employer and you practically exchange time for money or salary. If you do not show up at work, there needs to be a compelling reason or else your job is on the line. As an employee who is married with kids, you may find yourself missing many important activities involving especially your kids’ school; and if your work requires travel most of the time, you would miss out entirely on your family during travel time and this can take its toll on your marriage if not properly managed.

If you ever become a business owner, one thing you will observe is that you have time more than before to do those things you want to do without the business being affected. The reason for this is because you are now paying others to do things for you and so it frees you up to do other important things for yourself. But I want to point out one clear difference here. If your business requires you to be there all the time for things to work, then that is a job and not a business and you may as well remain in paid employment.

Therefore, in creating a part-time business, let it be something requiring minimal attention from you whilst still growing even with you in charge. Internet or online business suits into this category and there are many profitable ones to consider starting.

(3) Decision making: Unless you own a business or work in an organization that takes your ideas and comments seriously, as an employee you will always have to do what you are instructed and nothing else. This simply means no matter how great or convinced you are about an idea, it just would never be taken. How frustrating could that be? Very frustrating indeed as it would leave you feeling like an outsider.

If it were your business, you would take the decisions and if you have understood what I have written here, you would know the value of listening to employees’ ideas. If you do work for an organization that does not value your ideas, my advice is you start your own business even if it is part-time for you never can tell the work environment of an employer until you get in there.

(4) Ethics and principles: If you have been an employee for a length of time, say more than a year, you probably may have found yourself instructed to do something contrary to your principles, convictions or beliefs. This may be something you know runs against your beliefs even if it is a religious belief but because of fear of losing your job, you compromised to do it. If you were a business owner, that would certainly not happen as you would do things based on your convictions that leaves you happy always, especially if it tallies with your religious beliefs.

(5) Income: Nothing beats daily income. However, this can only happen when you are a business owner and as I wrote earlier, this happens whether you are there or not. As an employee, you have to work to earn income and this happens according to the time set by your employee, whether weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. There are even those jobs where if you do not show up for sometime, your paycheck amount either reduces or stops completely when you are laid off.

This cannot happen when you are a business owner and this is one compelling reason you should consider starting a business even on a part-time basis. As an employee, your income comes from only one source whereas in business, you have the additional advantage of multiple income streams. If one income stream runs into challenges, you can rely on other ones until issues are resolved.

(6) Perception of the Economy: Most Employers in different organizations the world over have been taking decisions based on their perception of the world’s economy or the economy of their countries of operation. Such decisions have included a cut in production, employee right-sizing or staff rationalization or restructuring or whatever you choose to call it.

So many ex-employees have taken extreme decisions including taking the lives of their spouse, children and even themselves to end their misery. Existing employees have become paralysed by fear of being laid off and are hoping that things work well so they are not laid off. What most people do not realize is that their thinking drives these negative events and attracts it to their physical lives. I must tell you that the preceding statement is a fact no matter how you choose to look at it.

To alleviate your fears, you can start a part-time business no matter how small. It would help you change you thinking and give a boost in your confidence as the business grows. A change in your thinking will make the different no matter what is happening around you.

In the words of Leadership Expert John Maxwell, “It is not what happens to you that matters but what happens inside you”.
In the words of Sacred Scripture in Proverbs 4: 23, “Be careful how you think, for your life is shaped by your thoughts”. (Good News Bible)

(7) Work Monotony with little experience: It is a fact that most employees are unable to rise to the peak of their careers especially in large organizations. Even when some are able to rise to the top, it is still very few that have work experience of the different units/departments of the organization in a particular industry. What this means is that majority spend years and years doing the same job/function even when they cross over to other organizations.

The danger here is that at the end of your career if you want to go into business for yourself because age makes it impossible to work for someone else, you cannot know all the challenges you are likely to encounter during those early years as a business owner.

However, as a business owner even on part-time, though you cannot know everything too at the beginning, you can gain valuable experience usually from mistakes made in the different areas of your business (administration, accounting, relationship management, customer service, etc), which will come to bear in later years as the business grows for you would not want to make the same mistake(s) again.

This situation provides an advantage for the employee who wants to go into part-time business for himself or herself. You will gain valuable experience and your paid employment income will sustain you even if you make costly financial mistakes from the business.

The beauty of this is that you become a better business person from this valuable experience than your co-worker who has never tried any kind of part-time business. When you have grown your business to a significant level and your employers suddenly ask you and some others to leave, you are placed on a better footing and can weather the storm more effectively.

Do you not think this as compelling reason to start a part-time business of your own even as an employee presently?

(8) Work place negativism: anyone who has ever worked in an organization that lives by constantly threatening staff with lay off would agree that the primary motive for remaining there is fear of income loss and fear of the unknown.

Unfortunately, this fear is a destructive emotion that drives decisions of staff while making the work suffer. Decisions taken by staff are based on fear of being sacked and staff constantly remind each other of this while doing the job. The danger with this kind of environment is that it can paralyse one’s initiative and leaves one in mental slavery perpetually. This, I tell you, is the worst situation anyone can find him or herself in and unless and until you break out of this destructive mental state, you certainly cannot achieve much in life.

I can tell you that this is usually the situation that keeps most individuals working 10, 20 and even 30 years with little or nothing to show for it. It is only the individual who can get his or her thinking out of this box that would go on to achieve tremendous amounts of wealth but only as a business owner and certainly not as an employee.

As I said at the beginning of this article, you can never work for your employer forever unless the business will be handed over to you to run eventually if and only if your parents own it or some relative who believes in you owns it.

If that would not happen, the most compelling thing to do now would be to start your own business even on a part-time basis. I do know I have touched someone or some people with this write-up. I do know for a fact that anyone can rise to any level in life just by changing your thinking. I do know for a fact that it is only organizations that create the right environment for their staff that do well consistently for very many years.

You can be that individual who can achieve all of this. It begins with your state of mind and your vision for your life.

For as Sacred Scripture tells us in Romans 12: 2, “And let not your behaviour be like that of this world, but be changed and made new in mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God” (Bible in Basic English).

Now what is God’s purpose for us? The answer is found in Jeremiah 29: 11, “For I am conscious of my thoughts about you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you hope at the end” (Bible in Basic English).

What is our hope as humans? To do well in life in whatsoever we desire. You can achieve this by the renewing of your mind as Sacred Scripture has advised us.

© copyright Gabriel Ama.

How To Deal With Your Small Business Finance Needs

One of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks for any business owner is to finance even a small business. While it is considered an essential part of running and expanding a business, it should be done properly and carefully so that it won’t hinder the establishment of the business as a whole. Small business finance is basically the connection between cash, value, and risk. Maintaining the balance of these three factors will ensure the good financial health of your business.

The first step that a business owner needs to take is to come up with a business plan as well as a loan system which comes with a well structured strategic plan. Doing this will certainly result to concrete and sound finances. It is of necessity that prior to your financing a business, you figure out what exactly your needs are in terms of small business finance.

In trying to determine your business’ financing requirements, keep in mind that you have to have a positive mindset. As the owner of the business, you should be confident enough in your own business that you will be willing to invest as much as 10% of your small business finance needs from your own pocket. The other 30% of the financing can be from venture capital or other private investors.

In terms of the private equity aspect of your business, you would want it to be around 30 to 40 percent equity share in your company for a period of at least three years and a maximum of five years. But of course, this will still be dependent on the value of your small business along with the risk involved. Maintaining this equity component in your company will assure you majority ownership of the business. As a result, you will be able to leverage the other 60 percent of your small business finance needs.

It will also be easier to satisfy the remaining financing needs of your growing business. You may opt to get the rest from a long-term debt, inventory finance, short-term working capital, and equipment finance. Remember also that as long as you have a steady cash position in the business, many financial institutions will be more than willing to lend you money. In this respect also, it is recommended that you get an expert commercial loan broker who will do the selection of your financing options. This is also a crucial stage as you would want to find the most appropriate financing offer to meet all your small business finance requirements.

These are just some of the important considerations that need to be taken when financing a small business. There are, however, so many business owners who do not pay enough attention to these things unless their business is in crisis. As a business owner, what you should keep in mind always is how you can grow and expand. Therefore, have a small business finance plan as early as possible so that you can make sure that every financial aspect of your business is in good condition.