Telling the truth about SME life today

Top 10 tips to sell your business

1. Establish an air of confidence

A company must have self-confidence in order to push itself forward. If a company doesn’t believe in its product or brand then why should anyone else A lack of confidence spreads throughout an organisation like an illness, and that often begins at the top. On the flip side, if each member of staff takes pride in their work and a communal sense of achievement is established then an outsider will see the company as something that they want to become involved with.

2. Use positive terminology

Instil a positive terminology, concentrating on what is great about your product and your company. I’ve been in board meetings where staff have been fixated on the strengths of their competition, repeatedly implying that they will never be able to catch up with them.

Instead tell people what they themselves are doing right. Paying compliments may not come naturally to us as Brits but it’s vital to create an atmosphere of positivity in order to inspire an ingenuity that will trickle down through the ranks. Maintain this terminology throughout emails, documents and meetings.

3. The power of the brand

Your brand should reflect everything that you do, use it to portray your strengths to the world. Big or small, if you want to project yourself, get a brand made up. I’ve paid £20,000 for a logo in the past and I still believe that it was money well spent.

Obviously, you can’t do this every time but it’s worth putting the effort in, even if it only costs £120 on Don?t just pop to the nearest printer and get it to weave some initials together. The power of branding should never be under-estimated.

4. Be your own worst critic

People tend to forgive their company for flaws they would criticise in others. Ensure that your perspective is always changing and keep viewing your company through fresh eyes. This may mean telephoning in with a query just to experience how your people sound from the outside, or it may mean employing a third party to point out all the things you’ve missed. However you choose to do it, make sure that your company is constantly evolving and moving forward.

5. Develop an eye for detail

The tiniest details can let you down, such as not keeping your office tidy or not having a member of staff on hand to welcome visitors when they first walk in. Individually these aspects may not be a deal breaker but if you have ten of these tiny impediments then it will affect perceptions of your business. Each detail is magnified at the point of sale and most aspects are easily addressed and rectified.

6. Aspire to be like a PLC

The best companies to sell are the ones that look and feel like a public company. A PLC with external shareholders will have to report their accounts with faultless accuracy, put them together impeccably and give well thought out and logical presentations on their progress. If everything has been kept in order buyers will be able to visualise expanding on the foundations you’ve laid.

7. Think big

This level of organisation and accountability immediately makes a company appear bigger. Then, low and behold, potential buyers will be keen to buy into the professionalism and corporate atmosphere that comes with your company. No matter the size of your business, if you act like a big company other big companies will want to interact with you. It’s about emulating parties you admire and consequently winning their respect.

8. Balance your stakeholders

Every business must balance its stakeholders. The most important of these are always going to be the staff, the customers and the suppliers. If these are not in balance you won’t be able to grow your business and you certainly won’t be able to sell it. All the stakeholders need to be happy and this can be checked in monthly appraisals. If you can maintain this then you’ve got a great business.

9. Give your staff some attention

You have to make sure your staff feel appreciated. No one goes into work not wanting to feel like they?ve achieved something by the end of the day. If your people are motivated and integrated with the brand they?ll portray this in the way they interact with the consumer. This will then translate into profit.

10. Find your hidden value

Every company has a hidden value. This may not be in the place that you first expect it to be but it will be there somewhere. It is worth a bit of self analysis to find it. This particular area of strength has to be magnified and brought out in a modified business plan to add value to your business. I have particular questions which tend to draw this hidden value out.

Mark Mills is one of Britain’s foremost business brokers, renowned for being able to sell any business. He set up Comerga Consulting in 2011 after establishing himself as a serial entrepreneur who can build businesses, increase profitability and broker a sale for any client.


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