Business experts may mention "Value Drivers" as if everyone knows what they are, how they work, and where their impact will be greatest. It can be difficult or frustrating to know that building business value is a frequent topic of discussion, but actually building value is sometimes easier said than done.
It may be the case that one business has buyers lined up willing to pay top dollar while another sits on the market for months or even years. What do buyers look for in a prospective business acquisition?
There are many opinions about which attributes or characteristics buyers seek, but here’s what we have observed: The characteristics buyers seek must exist before the sale process even begins, and it is your job as the owner to create value within your business prior to the sale. We call characteristics that impact value “Value Drivers.”
Look At Your Business Through A Buyer's Eyes
To grasp the importance of Value Drivers when preparing to sell a business, owners must put themselves in the buyer’s shoes. Consider the following case study, which illustrates how a buyer might approach the search for effective Value Drivers.
The Alpha Company has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $2 million, an owner who runs the business, and systems and processes that create growth. The Alpha Company does not have a true management team in place, and the owner generates a majority of its sales. The owner is the locus of the company, holding both the CEO and CFO positions. With such overwhelming responsibilities, the owner is burning-out quickly.
By comparison, the Beta Company has EBITDA of $2 million and a solid management team that runs the business, systems, and processes. The management team creates efficiencies within the business, and the owner vacations for six weeks a year.
If you were a buyer comparing these two companies, which factors would you consider more likely to lead to a successful acquisition? How much more would you pay for a business with a strong management team (one of the most important Value Drivers)? Would you be interested in buying a business whose management team (i.e., the owner) walks out when you walk in?
Experts in getting businesses sold understand that companies that lack strong Value Drivers also lack a strong pool of buyers. The buyers that do come to the table do not arrive with pockets full of cash.
The Most Common Value Drivers
Consider the following important Value Drivers common to all industries.
You can install these Value Drivers and better position your company to secure a premium price upon your exit with the help of a trained Exit Planning Advisor.
If you have any questions about increasing the value of your business prior to your exit, please contact us to discuss your particular situation. We can help you identify and strengthen the current Value Drivers in your business, install additional Value Drivers, and create a road map to meet your overall Exit Objectives. We also have resources that explain Value Drivers in more detail and can help you apply these concepts to your business.
The information contained in this article is general in nature and is not legal, tax or financial advice. For information regarding your particular situation, contact an attorney or a tax or financial professional. The information in this newsletter is provided with the understanding that it does not render legal, accounting, tax or financial advice. In specific cases, clients should consult their legal, accounting, tax or financial professional. This article is not intended to give advice or to represent our firm as being qualified to give advice in all areas of professional services. Exit Planning is a discipline that typically requires the collaboration of multiple professional advisors. To the extent that our firm does not have the expertise required on a particular matter, we will always work closely with you to help you gain access to the resources and professional advice that you need.
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Any examples provided are hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. Examples include fictitious names and do not represent any particular person or entity.