Build a Team
When you are selling a business it is not the time to fly solo. It is often one of the most significant financial events you will ever experience. You need to develop a team of professionals to assist you through this process. The team consistently includes the business intermediary, legal advisors, and financial advisors.
Business intermediaries coordinate between the seller and the buyers to facilitate productive discussions working out differences effectively. The Intermediary will lead your team to the successful sale and set you on the path to transition your business to new management. The Intermediary’s responsibility is to work with each member of your team and the members of the buyer’s team; keeping all people focused on the final transaction in a timely manner. You, as the business owner, can devote your time to the management of your business.
Legal advisors are typically attorneys. Most commonly used are transaction attorneys and real estate attorneys.
- Transaction attorneys specialize in the financial, tax, planning and procedural matters associated with the sale of a business. These are attorneys that you would typically not use in everyday business matters.
- Real estate attorneys specialize in negotiating real estate contracts, real estate leases and can be very useful in avoiding pitfalls during the sale of real estate or transfer/assignment of a lease.
- Various other attorneys may be required in a transaction. Examples of these include an employment attorney, immigration attorney, licensing attorney or other attorneys highly experienced in a particular industry to help with structuring the transaction or transferring contracts or operating agreements.
Financial advisors that are typically involved in transactions are accountants, CPAs, transaction CPAs, and other financial advisors.
- Your accountant or CPA will work with you on your financial housekeeping; cleaning up your financial statements, collecting accounts receivables that have gone beyond 30-45 days, removing outdated inventory, and any obsolete equipment. You need to maintain accurate books, records, and financials. Having up-to-date information on your company is not only a good practice, but it also presents your company in a more appealing manner to buyers. A general rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 3-5 years of tax returns, financial statements, and payroll history as well as detailed fixed asset lists which include equipment and vehicles.
- Transaction CPA firms specialize in financial, tax, planning and procedural matters associated with the sale and purchase of a business. They are a great asset in structuring the purchase agreement and allocation of the purchase price. Transaction CPAs structure the transaction to maximize the net after-tax cash so you can capitalize on your years of hard work. Structuring often requires balancing the seller’s interest with those of buyers, co-investors, managers and lenders. General accountants and CPAs are not as familiar with these intricacies because of their limited exposure to complex transactions.
The other advisors you will have involved in a transaction are bankers, investment advisors, wealth managers, insurance advisors and others to protect and grow the funds received from the sale of your business.