The hardest thing for most small business owners to do is relinquish control of any part of their operations. Time and time again, owners feel this overwhelming pressure to run every aspect of their business themselves. From your perspective, this is not unreasonable. You have spent countless hours and a lot of money building your business and you want to make sure it is all being done correctly and to your standards. But, take a moment and think about what that means for you. These are the tasks you’re most likely to perform:

  • Manage Staff
  • Handle payroll
  • Manage your calendar
  • Hire and fire employees
  • Answer emails and phone calls
  • Go through the mail
  • Pay bills
  • Marketing
  • Generate and follow up on leads
  • Create products
  • Prepare tax records
  • Comply with business licensing laws
  • Interview candidates
  • Manage business accounts
  • Repair equipment
  • Process payments
  • Rent space
  • Maintain the office
  • Develop a website
  • Perform market research
  • Deliver products to customers
  • Plan and strategize

Making the decision to list your business for sale is one of the most important choices that you, as a business owner, will have to make. Listing prematurely can lead to unexpected surprises in due diligence, lower valuation by prospective buyers, and even an inability to close the sale. We have compiled a list of 10 signs that may indicate that your business is not ready to be sold. If you are planning to sell and one or more of these apply to you, dedicate some time to resolving these issues – it will make all the difference!

You may not be ready to sell your business, if:

1 . All of the information necessary to run your business is in your head . This is especially true if you have trade secrets or other sensitive information that is key to successfully running the business. This information needs to be tangible so a new owner can access it as well as protect it.

2. The business’ financial documents are not in order and have not been evaluated by a CPA . This is a huge red flag to a potential buyer. There can be no cutting of corners when it comes to the business’ financial statements. Get your documents in order well before you ever plan to list.

3. Pre-sale due diligence has not been performed . When a potential buyer starts to look at your business, he or she will almost certainly perform their own due diligence, which will uncover any issues your business has. If the first time you learn about problems is when the buyer discovers them, he or she will have a huge advantage in

Certified Public Accountants come in many forms. Some focus purely on doing taxes at the end of the year while others prepare financial statements, manage payroll, assist owners in preparing their businesses for sale, assist prospective buyers in obtaining loans to buy businesses, and much more. Additionally, there are CPA firms that have become a one-stop-shop for all of your financial needs. Regardless of the situation, there are three things you can do to make sure you are finding the best CPA for your business.

1. Communication Skills

This may seem obvious, but let’s delve into what it actually means. This goes beyond whether you can get through to your CPA when you try to call him or her, although this is an important first step. When you do talk, do you understand what he or she is saying? Many CPAs use jargon when speaking to clients, which may sound impressive but does not help them understand what is going on with their finances. Find a CPA that can explain things to you in layman terms.

2. Ask for References

This is KEY to finding the right CPA for your business. Many business owners believe that just because a person has the title “Certified Public Accountant” that they are automatically trustworthy and a good fit for any business. Think about it, you are hiring this person to see some of the most sensitive financial information you have. Obtaining a reference is a small step you can take to ensure the CPA you hire is credible. Ask him or her for three to four names and

You don’t have to search too long before finding material alleging that M&A destroy value. NYU Professor Aswath Damodaran goes as far as to say that asking an investment bank to fairly value an acquisition target is like ‘asking a plastic surgeon to tell you your face is perfect’. When the so-called father of modern valuations is so vehemently against the practice, one might wonder why the volume of M&A transactions continues on its upward trajectory.

Context is required here. Firstly, most academic studies on M&A use event studies to measure the success of transactions. That is, when news of the transaction is publicly released, we assume the stock market’s response to be a gauge of the success or otherwise of the deal (success, as always with the stock market, being a translation for ‘future earnings’). There’s at least one major flaw in this, which even academics will admit to: this assumes that the stock market makes the right call all the time.

Secondly, to give some context on Damodaran’s remark: he’s not arguing against the logic of M&A transactions, as much as it may appear to be the case. His argument is based around the problem inherent in deals: generally, a part of the brokerage fees are based on transaction size. Even we at Morgan & Westfield, as M&A business brokers and M&A advisor, agree that this has the potential to lead to adverse outcomes. But again, it’s far too simplistic to assume that a process that may lead to bias does and will lead to bias.

The economy at large is full of situations where adverse incentives exist.

When it comes time to sell a business, many business owners incorrectly assume the debt that the business has will disappear when the business is sold. This comes from the belief that a new buyer will simply take over the debt. In some cases, the debt is absorbed in the transaction as part of the sale. However, it is wrong to automatically presume you, the current business owner, will be free from all debt just because you sell your business. Rather, it is important to understand where debt goes when you sell your business, and that largely depends on how the transaction is structured. There are two ways a transaction can be structured: as a stock sale or as an asset sale. Both will be discussed in turn, followed by some important exceptions to the rule.

Stock Sale

A stock sale occurs when the buyer purchases the stock of the entity and assumes everything that the entity (Corporation, LLC, etc.) owns, including its assets and liabilities. Generally, when you structure a transaction as a stock sale, you are buying everything that entity owns – including any unknown liabilities. This is the reason most stock sales are done by larger companies. In fact, less than 5% of businesses that sell for under $10 million dollars are structured as stock sales.

A business owner will typically decide to do a stock sale if he wants to inherit something that corporation or entity owns that cannot be transferred. For example, some contracts are specific to a corporation, LLC, or entity and structuring the transaction as a stock sale would ensure these pass along to the new owner (assuming the contract does not