Selling a Small Business – Why Selling a Smaller Business is Different

If you are a business owner thinking of selling a small business, the process is somewhat different than selling a much larger, more involved company.

Smaller businesses are bought by investors for different reasons and, depending on the size of the company, attract completely different buyer profiles. This article looks at some of the differences in selling a small business from the owner’s point of view.

Micro-Businesses
What is meant by “micro businesses” are businesses that are valued at less than $100,000. There are many different types of micro-businesses and each can attract a different buyer profile. For instance, if you own a small, home-based business valued at $75,000 or so, this usually attracts a potential buyer that is completely different than the person looking for a business valued up to $250,000. To expand, businesses valued under $100,000 or so usually fall into a number of categories. They can be home-based businesses where a good buyer candidate can be a stay-at-home parent looking to augment an income. At this lower price range the business may also be a service based business such as landscaping or home inspection, as an example. This type of business is attractive to the “do it yourselfer” who is purely looking to ‘buy a job’ and a book of existing accounts. The $100,000 and under price range might also reflect a business that could be larger but has suffered a setback and has the potential for stronger earnings going forward, with right management in place. Micro businesses do not necessarily mean ‘micro earnings’. Many smaller companies have excellent income potential and could make a great investment for the right buyer. The point is, when you are selling a small business (especially a micro business) please don’t merely characterize the type of potential buyer based on price. Smaller businesses are attractive to many people for many different reasons.

Small businesses valued in the $300,000 price range
The price point of $300,000 is a ‘sweet spot’ for selling a business in that it is a price that is ‘doable’ by a relatively large pool of buyers. Businesses valued at approximately $300,000 (typically) earn an income to an owner/operator that is over $100,000. This size of business is attractive in that it allows an owner to operate it and pay off debt and earn a comfortable living off of the business income. That price range is within reach for many people, especially home owners who can finance a portion of the business purchase with home equity. If you own a small business in the $300,000 range and if your business is profitable, priced right, stable and showing consistent returns, there should be a relatively large pool of buyers for your business.

Small businesses valued up to $750,000
If you own a business valued in the neighbourhood of $750,000 this is still characterized as a “small business” but it would attract a completely different type of buyer (or investor) to your company. Selling a small business in this higher price range usually attracts a buyer with more financial resources or perhaps a partnership or group of buyers. Many times, the idea with buying a business at this price range is that it can earn enough income to justify hiring a manager with enough cashflow left over to pay the debt and earn a return for the buyers.

If you are thinking of selling a small business think about the type of buyer that would be ‘ideal’ to purchase your company. Think in terms of price and financial ability but also pay attention to things like aptitude and lifestyle choice. There are many small business resources on the internet to answer some of your questions. Talk to a business broker to help you sell a smaller business.

How to Find a Good Business Broker

Anyone interested in buying or selling a business should always consult with a good business broker because they posses the know-how and resources to get the best price and help you avoid the devastating pitfalls of the buying or selling process. How do you find a good business broker? Well, you go out and look. Where? The internet of course, but asking someone who has sold or bought a business is also a good source and probably the better of the two. Unfortunately not everyone knows someone who has worked with a good business broker and must rely on the expansive web to begin a search.

You should begin your search before you commit to buying or selling a business. I once had a gentleman call me wanting advice on buying a coin laundry and we went through the process of buying the business, a few things to look out for and the general principles behind how a business is priced. After a little exchange of questions and answers between the two of us it started sounding as though this buyer had not done the proper due diligence and that he was possibly overpaying. Problem was… he was already under contract to purchase! At that point even the best business broker can’t help unless you are able to find a way out of the contract, which won’t be easy if the seller is getting a premium on the transaction.

A simple keyword search for business brokers will bring about a plethora of willing brokers but the trick is finding one that is good and easy to relate with. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of the broker, i.e., “What’s your experience?”, “Do you have any credentials?”, etc. It’s always nice to work with someone that clicks with you.

Things process of selling a business and what a business broker can do for you are:

Step 1 is to contact small and medium sized Business Brokers for information about how they charge, what they charge and how you generally feel about them. Select a Small and medium sized Business Broker.

Step 2 is to work with your broker in establishing the most appropriate asking price and put broker and client understandings on paper in the form of a listing agreement. The listing price is the price you agree to sell the business if the broker brings a qualified buyer willing to purchase at that listing price.

Step 3 is to supply your broker with all relevant information about the small and medium sized business so that they can complete an offering memorandum. The broker will discreetly and confidentially make the market aware of your small and medium sized business’s availability including some general information about the site.

The 4th step is for your broker to screen and qualify potential buyers.

Step 5 is for you, with the help of your broker, to negotiate a price and terms agreeable to you and a buyer.

Step 6 is the removal of contingencies explained in the contract to purchase the small and medium sized business.

The final step is to close the transaction.

Your broker will continue to work with you after the sale with any remaining terms and/or conditions of the sale until the seller is completely separated from the business.

  • Educate you regarding the process and issues faced when selling a small and medium sized business.
  • Keeping the transaction confidential.
  • Conduct a pricing analysis to determine the best asking price for your small and medium sized business.
  • Develop an effective marketing strategy to sell your small and medium sized business.
  • Put the offering package of the small and medium sized business in front of the most buyers.
  • Pre-qualify potential buyers prior to divulging sensitive information.
  • Manage transactional details and paperwork.
  • Help establish terms of sale.
  • Assist the buyer in an effort to give the transaction the most potential for a successful closing, i.e. financing.

The most important thing you can do when you are thinking of buying or selling a business is to at least speak with a broker or two. The good one is the one that gets you pointed in the right direction. Most brokers, especially the one that will care for your business, will be happy to spend a half hour to an hour talking to you on the basic points.

Business Solutions in Online Survey Software

Whether you’re the VP of a large company or a small business owner, you want to know more information about your clients and your target market. Now that so many people are online the virtual plain of the Internets is one of the best places to contact your target market. To this effect, online survey software companies are a great business solution. They provide you with the ability to build surveys, send them out to mailing lists, and receive answers quickly and all in one software. Using this type of tool as a business solution, the sky is the limit!

Well, almost…. Not all online survey software companies will suit your specific needs. You’ll need to shop around. Online survey software companies all provide survey creators, data collection, and many similar features. How, then, are business people supposed to decide which tool suits their needs best? Survey creation is important because it affects what respondents experience during their survey and determines drop-out levels. It is important to keep in mind the contact management of the software: what features exist for publishing surveys? If you collect data then you most likely need to present the results and therefore the reporting capabilities of the software are also important. With all of these features available, we could choose any one of them to base our decision on. This choice depends on your and your business’ needs.

One way to make a decision, which may prove most effective for determining the utility of a software to your business, is to place more importance on the data analysis capabilities of the various software companies. To get meaningful results from your survey you need more than just numbers and percentages. You need advanced data analysis. Advanced data analysis includes using multi-level crosstabs to obtain brand feedback, for example. Another example could be conducting pricing analysis to measure the likelihood of purchase at a specific price point. To provide you with business solutions survey software has to go above and beyond simple survey creation and data collection. Advanced data analysis is imperative.

There is so much potential for survey software to provide real business solutions. It is important for you and your business to look for the features in each company that will best suit your needs. Here are some of the features that may provide potential solutions for your business:

Solutions for marketing:
Online survey software has the potential to help you to understand your current and future markets using analysis to identity clear action points that feed into marketing plans. Certain survey software companies have the potential to become meaningful market research tools for your company. By capturing customer feedback you can ensure that you minimize customer churn to build relationships and keep customers happy. You can also analyze survey data to speed up a new product development process and gather feedback from your target market on pricing, new product concepts and product features. By collecting feedback on advertising concepts, website design, packaging, logos, etcetera, you can improve current marketing campaigns and fine-tune future ones. For example, some software allows you to use multi-level cross-tabulations to obtain brand feedback from various populations; test advertising concepts using heat-map or video; and conduct pricing analysis with scale slider questions to measure the likelihood of purchase at a specific price point. This software even allows you to create multilingual surveys in order gather global feedback from your customers all over the world.

Solutions for sales:
Using online surveys you can capture valuable customer feedback to provide information to your Sales department about their current satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels as well as future requirements. Use this information to identify ‘at-risk’ customers, follow-up on leads to develop new business or upsell to customers who have unfulfilled requirements. Use trend analysis to measure changes in customer feedback over time. Using advanced analysis functions to identify clear action points that feed into sales strategy can optimize your business’ relationships with customers. You can evaluate the impact of advertising campaigns among your sales forces. Some companies make things a little easier by funneling survey data directly to your sales team with Salesforce integration. This way your Sales department is alerted to dissatisfied customers and provides the opportunity to build relationships before the customer dissatisfaction reaches critical levels.

Solutions for Human Resources:
They backbone of your business is the people who make it work: your employees. To optimize your business you need to make sure your team is fit, satisfied, and efficient. Survey software can provide innovative solutions to keeping your team satisfied and functioning at the top of their game. Using online surveys you can gather feedback from employees about corporate communication, benefits, salaries, satisfaction, training and development opportunities. With features such as ‘grouping’ you can develop 360-degree feedback from questionnaires, e-learning quizzes or even post-training tests. The feedback you receive will allow you to improve churn rates, improve internal communications, address areas of higher dissatisfaction, and develop appropriate training programs. The possibilities for gathering feedback are endless, but of course, once again, you have to use tools with advanced data analysis to deal with this data effectively.

Every business is looking for ways to improve their profits, satisfy their customers, and keep their employees happy. Online survey software is one way to provide your business with solutions and tools to achieve these objectives. It is important to look for attractive survey creators to optimize respondent experience and improve your chances of getting more responses. However, as I have emphasized in this article it is the data analysis components of the software that provide the most advantages and solutions for your business. There are several survey software companies that provide these types of data analysis tools. You need to shop around a find the tool that suits your specific needs. Engage in intelligent consumerism, go beyond the survey sending step, and demand more from your survey tools.

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