It is never easy to emotionally detach yourself from matters that are very important to you, and your business is no exception. It is akin to evaluating your child as a neutral third party would; realistically, you cannot. And it makes sense why; you have likely invested numerous hours and many resources into your business. And, really, what is the harm in thinking well of your business or of bragging about it?

Generally, there is nothing wrong with playing favorites with your business. However, this favoritism can lead to one major downfall: over-valuing your business. Like the parent who thinks her kid can do no wrong, business owners often overlook the flaws in their own businesses. This becomes a problem at two major times:

1. When the business is not profitable

There are business owners out there who do not have a grasp on how their business is actually doing. We have heard from owners who are struggling to make a profit but do not know what they are doing wrong. This is when wearing rose colored glasses can hurt your business; you are not able to see the true problems. And you cannot fix problems you do not know exist. So, what can you do as a business owner do determine how your business is truly doing?

  • Consider hiring outside help; be it from a consultant, CPA, accountant or an attorney.
  • Set up a survey to get customers’ opinions on your business.
  • Ask your employees for honest feedback

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.

After being a business owner for many years, most of our clients are initially relieved to retire. Time and time again, our clients who are near retirement share dreams of traveling, spending time with grandchildren and great grandchildren, fishing, reading, learning a new hobby, and every other kind of cliché retirement activity you can imagine. And, in theory, this is a great plan. You have worked hard all of your life; it’s time to slow down and relax.

Key Points:
  • Most entrepreneurs are go-getters.
  • Answering “I will be retired” is not enough. You need to direct your energy towards a new passion.
  • You will find that a little preparation now will save you stress and anxiety about your future as you navigate through the complex process of selling your business.

The problem with this plan is many entrepreneurs do not know how to “do nothing”, or simply relax. Many clients, the same ones who were excited at the idea of retiring, become stressed and overwhelmed once a buyer puts an offer on the table for their business. As we discuss the details of the finalizing the sale, we have several clients ask us “now what”? Then, when the sale is complete and they are officially “retired”, they go off to do all the glorious things they imagined. The hitch is, most are not going to spend the rest of their lives traveling or playing with the grandkids. A year into retirement (oftentimes even less) the entrepreneur is looking for something else to do with their time. Many of our clients even come back asking to play a role in their old