Planning on exiting or selling your business to a client, co-worker or family member can be stressful. These articles cover some of the challenges business owners face when planning to exit their business.

EXIT – Are you planning to get out of your small business?

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.

If you’re scaling your business, you will recognize these PAINS

exitFor the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiencies, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
RECOGNIZING THAT ‘EXIT’ IS A PAIN
This pain is most common for business owners that are in their 50’s+, have been working IN the business for years and, very often, will have feelings of being tired, or burnt out, and may have lost much of the energy and passion that was part of the early years of growing their business.  They are seeing the potential of retirement, but have just realized that their biggest asset is their business.
You will hear them say things like…
  • How much is my business worth?
    • Your business is worth exactly how much someone is willing to pay for the business.  The estimated sale price of the same business will vary greatly depending on their role… accountant, business broker, family member looking to run the business, key employee wanting to buy it, or a financial or strategic buyer from outside your company.
  • Who would be interested in buying my business? and how will I make that happen?
    • First – you need to start thinking about / looking for potential buyers years before you expect to sell / retire.  The path to transfer a business (for the value that you expect) is long, often unclear, and filled with barriers and pot-holes.
    • Second – look to the ‘low-hanging fruit’… family member who is working in the business, key employee that has been engage and loyal, or your competitors.  When you’ve exhausted all of these, then a business broker may be another option
    • The ‘HOW’ for any of the above is to gather an EXIT team of professionals together to help you develop and implement a plan… Business professionals could  attorney, bankers, accountant, coach, financial advisor, insurance, and tax advisor. All these can play a significant role and be of great assistance in different part of your ‘trip’
  • I’d like to retire, but who will run the business if I’m not here?
    • Selling the business outright is not always the best option.  It may make more sense to hire someone to run the business and have it provide an income stream to you and your family.  Each case is different and so will be the solution.
  • How do I convert the business I’ve built into cash for my retirement?
    • First – you need to know how much you will need when you are away from the business.  A good financial advisor will be able to help you put together a good estimate.
    • Second – now that you know what you’ll need, you need to evaluate what you have in liquid and retirement assets and an estimated value of the business.  For safety sake, I would suggest that you plan for the lower number on the price range of the business.   There are a variety of industry specific formulas to determine value, but if you take that EBITDA average over the last 3 years.  Multiply that number by .5 and 5.  The end result of the value of your business will (likely) be within that range
    • Having the buyer write you a check is the easiest and cleanest – but it doesnt often happen.  Talk to your EXIT team – they can help you develop a realistic plan
  • Making sure that we have a proven system for generating qualified leads will increase the value of my company… now I just need to figure out how to do that.
    • The value of your business will depend on its ability to consistently grow and scale.  Being able to create a steady stream of new business will ad great value to the business and significantly increase the amount someone will be wiling to pay.
HOW TO FIX IT?
As we mentioned before, the way to achieve your goal of Exiting your business is a ‘long and winding road’, but the following 6 steps can provide you an outline to follow…
  1. START NOW – Exit planning can be complicated and take time. Assemble  your EXIT team now.  Plan for 5-10 years and you may have enough time.
  2. CLARIFY YOUR GOALS – Share your dreams with your EXIT planning team.
  3. BUILD YOUR PLAN –Work with people that know the process. There is much to consider.
  4. MANAGE YOUR RISK – A strong plan should account for all the things that could derail the plan.  Protect yourself, your family and your business.
  5. VALUE YOUR BUSINESS – Find the right valuation formula for you.  Your EXIT planning team can help
  6. REVIEW YOUR PLAN – The only constant is change.  Review your plan yearly to identify any changes
If you would like learn more about how you can develop your plan to Exit your business,  call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

4 Main ‘PAINS’ Experienced By A Business Owner

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.   Which one’s do you have?

 For the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiency, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
We have recently began a partnership with Lead Forensics, a new and innovative technology solution that can provide real time solutions to many of the challenges clients have experienced.  Lead Forensics is the software that reveals the identity of your anonymous website traffic, and turns them into actionable sales leads.   This tool, can in real-time help to address those 4 pains.
Those 4 PAIN’s are… TIME, TEAM, MONEY and EXIT
time tredmillTIME – the amount of time being invested in the business has taken the owner ‘out of balance’.  Some of the key indicators of business owners with this pain are…
  • The business owner / leader is working 60+ hours a week
  • They will say things like…”my customers come to my business because of me and what I do”; or “if I wasn’t here, my customers would go somewhere else”
  • the owner is having family relationship troubles with spouse and / or children.
  • Health issues are surfacing with the owner – lack of sleep, anxiety, head aches, etc.
  • So much time is being spent cold-calling for prospective clients, with so few results.
TEAM – as a business grows, the only way to scale and grow consistently is to add employees.  But, because you are a good (add any product/service provider here), doesn’t make the owner a good ‘leader’.  Some of things we will hear when this is the pain is…
  • No matter who they hire, no one seems willing to follow directions
  • The person interviewed seems to be different that the person hired after a few weeks
  • When the owner’s not there, nothing ever gets done
  • No one has the same work-ethic as the owner does
  • The owner struggles to find sales and marketing people that can open doors and build relationships with our prospects.
9881157_sMONEY – this can be looked at as revenue, gross profit, net profit, cash-flow or finding the money to buy equipment, expand your facility or to fund a growth plan.  The things you will hear from the owners/leaders with this pain sound like…
  • There is never enough money in the checking account at the end of the month
  • Although we’re busier than we’ve ever been, the check book doesn’t show it
  • By the time I pay all the bills and my employees, there is nothing left for me.
  • I have opportunities to grow the business, but need money to invest and cant get it from the bank.
  • Marketing and Advertising in today’s marketplace is constantly changing.  We don’t seem to be getting a ROI on our investment.
EXIT – this pain is most common for business owners that are in their 50’s+.  They are seeing the potential of retirement, but have just realized that their biggest asset is their business.  You will hear them say things like…
  • How much is my business worth?
  • Who would be interested in buying my business? and how will I make that happen?
  • I’d like to retire, but who will run the business if I’m not here?
  • How do I convert the business I’ve built into cash for my retirement?
  • Making sure that we have a proven system for generating qualified leads will increase the value of my company… now I just need to figure out how to do that.
Advanced Business Coaching offers the principals, practices, tools and techniques to our clients to address all these PAINs.  We recognize that each of our clients are unique and special.   We customize the potential solutions to meet their particular situation and  their prioritized goals.
Over the next few weeks, we will look into each of these ‘PAINs’ in depth and share some potential solutions that have worked for our clients that asked us to help them overcome and remove these “PAINs’ from their lives.
If you’d like to learn more about ways you can remove one, or all of these PAIN’s from your business, contact Michael Stelter @ Advanced Business Coaching at 262.293.3166.  or you can email Michael at Michael@ABCBizCoach.com

10 Things That Keep Small Business Owners Up At Night

Small Business Owner FEAR

FEAR leads to frustration for many business owners

The top challenge will surprise you … only if you haven’t bothered to ask what challenges small businesses really face.

If you ask any small business owner “How’s business?” invariably they will respond: “Well, I can always use more customers.” So, if someone asked you what’s the greatest concern of small business owners, you could be forgiven for being wrong if you said they need more sales, because that’s what most people think—especially politicians.

Small business owners are actually pretty good at buying and selling—every company has been built to do those things. But operating a small business in the 21st century has become more complicated than ever before, which is why people who know small business know the best way to find out what’s really going on is to ask the owner what keeps them up at night.

One organization that knows how to ask the right questions is the National Federation of Independent Business. As you may know, the NFIB’s monthly Small Business Optimism Index has been the gold standard for such research for 43 years. They also have a quadrennial report that speaks directly to the question, “What keeps you up at night?” It’s the NFIB’s Small Business Problems and Priorities survey, and you may be shocked to learn that “more sales” came in at No. 45 out of 75 possible concerns in the 2016 report.

The 2,831 small business owners who responded to the survey told the NFIB that their greatest challenge isn’t competition (No. 31), or social media (No. 64), or online retailers (No. 61). What about poor profits? Nope, that’s No. 16. Even the most experienced observers of small business would feel safe in presuming that cash flow would be No. 1, but this primordial Main Street challenge is actually No. 25 on the list of top concerns.

If you listen to politicians, you’d think needing a loan is what makes small business owners wake up at 2 a.m. Surely you know better than to listen to politicians when it comes to small business, because needing a loan is almost last, at No. 70. That monthly NFIB index has reported that since 2007, established small businesses have been adhering to what I call “The Great Deleveraging.” They don’t want no stinkin’ loans.

So what is the No. 1 greatest small business challenge? Drum roll, please: The cost of healthcare.

No. 2 is oppressive government regulations. No. 3 is federal income tax on businesses. No. 4 is uncertain economic conditions. No. 5 is tax compliance complexity. And numbers six through nine are also all government related. This next point is very instructive: The first operating challenge to rank on the list is No. 10—finding qualified employees.

Let’s review: Nine of the top 10 greatest small business challenges are directly associated with government.

Some might say healthcare costs are not the government’s fault, but that would be Rip Van Duffus who just woke up from a seven-year nap and never heard of Obamacare. To be fair, let me hasten to add the cost of healthcare was a small business challenge prior to Obamacare. And this law did “bend the price curve,” as promised. Unfortunately, for the small business sector, Obamacare bent the cost curve up, not down.

Thanks to the NFIB Survey, President Trump and the 115th Congress can’t say they don’t know where to start helping small business owners. Indeed, they’re neck deep in the Obamacare “repeal and replace” debate right now. But here’s some breaking news: We polled our online audience about that issue and 94% said “Yes” to repeal and replace, but half said, “Take the time to do it right this time.”

There’s no doubt that 26 million American small business owners—with healthcare costs on their minds—had a significant impact on the November election. So my advice to the political class of all three parties—Democrats, Republicans and Trumpicans—is to take the time to get healthcare right this time. And then quickly start reducing the other eight non-operating challenges government is imposing on the most important job creators in America: the heroes of the Main Street economy—small businesses.

Jim Blasingame, one of the world’s foremost thought leaders on small business and entrepreneurship, is the author of “The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.” Jim helps small business owners have the maximum opportunity to be successful, and teaches big businesses how to speak small business as a second language.

When Is It Time To Fire A Client?

There are lots of reasons why a business relationship may not work out. Watch for these signs that you should cut a customer loose.

How would you describe your business?No one wants to lose business. We put our blood, sweat and tears into building a thriving company, and turning away customers seems to be antithetical to that effort. But it’s not.

The customer is not always right. That age-old golden rule of business has never been the true test of how well your run your company. Not all clients are a good fit for all companies. Personality conflicts, unrealistic expectations or just plain meanness are all very good reasons that a business relationship may not work out.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to sever ties with a client, but there are some telltale signs that you should consider cutting a customer loose.

  • When communication with them creates anxiety for you and your staff.You are responsible for maintaining a happy, healthy work environment. If you have a client who continuously wreaks havoc on your team, it may be time to direct them elsewhere.
  • When they are rude and disrespectful.This is a non-starter for me. If a customer can’t deal with me and my team in a way that is respectful, they have to go. Period. You have no obligation to be subjected to a toxic relationship.
  • Despite clear instructions to the contrary, they continue to operate outside the scope of work outlined at the onset of the project.Managing expectations is key to a smooth relationship. It’s one thing to make changes to the scope of work. It is another to make changes and not expect to pay for it.
  • When they continuously question rates and servicesWe charge what we’re worth. If they are looking for a cheap solution, they should look somewhere else. We only want to work with clients who value what we bring to the table.

We had a client that despite many, many, many conversations refused to understand the concept of “no.” She had champagne taste on a beer budget but refused to understand that changes cost money and the more complicated something is to create, the more it costs to produce. I pride myself on being able to work with even the most difficult personalities, but it became obvious that we weren’t the right firm for her.

For me, my piece of mind and that of my staff outweighed any potential profit. So, I politely suggested that she might be happier with a different company. There are ways to sever the relationship without it being contentious. Ultimately, that’s the goal.

A few tips for a smooth break up:

  • When it’s about working styles: Sometimes the breakdown in communication is less a function of conflicts in personality and more to do with working styles. In this case, referring and introducing another firm is the easiest way to transition the client away from your company without creating undo animosity.
  • When it’s about personality: In the case where the client is just generally unbearable, it is obviously a more difficult problem to traverse. But if you position yourself as a problem solver for their needs you can leave the relationship intact. By acknowledging that you are not a good fit for their project and that they might be better served with a different firm who could more effectively solve their problems, they are less likely to leave feeling rejected or angry.
  • When it’s about money: This is probably the easiest of the three situations to manage effectively. Never compromise on your worth. If the client is focused solely on the bottom line then the value that you provide as a company is lost. Suggest alternative options but be sure to emphasize the value you provide to your customers and leave the door open for them to return when that value is foremost in their minds.

When you follow your brand promise, a culture will emerge that aligns with your brand and tells not only your clients but your staff as well what they can expect.

Remember, you are on the front lines. Your staff relies on you to protect them. If you want them to stick around, make certain that you maintain a culture of mutual understanding and respect.

If you would like learn more about how you can make an evaluation of your current client to find the ones you should fire , call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

How Will You Value the Sale of Your Business

9881157_sWhen deciding whether to sell your business you probably have one question: How much will I get?

There are different ways to find the answer.

The value of your business is constantly changing. Some industries have standard valuing practices, such as selling for three times estimated book value or a multiple of cash flow, but transaction specialists use several standard ways to value your business.

1. Income Approach

This is a standard valuation. The buyer of a business looks at the transaction as an investment, so they focus on cash generating and growth metrics.

Pro Tip: Ask your analyst to focus on the Discounted Cash Flow Analysis approach. This approach factors in the future value of the cash-generating potential of your business and not the standard five- to 10-year outlook.

2. Market Approach

Under this approach analysts will compare your business to other businesses. They make comparisons to public companies or, similar to residential real estate, they will look at recent transactions in your area.

Pro Tip: Obtaining a valuation on a routine basis will help you take immediate advantage of market opportunities.

3. Asset Approach

Use this approach as a last measure. Analysts will use this method to determine the value of your company’s assets. No potential value-adds or growth will be reflected in the sales price using this method.

Pro Tip: Know your definition of financial independence. When the sale of your business meets your definition of financial independence, don’t hesitate to sell!

Knowing how transaction specialists calculate the value of your business allows you to focus on the key metrics that will ultimately impact the sales price of your business. 

I found this tool while looking to find ways to measure the growth of some of my clients business.  We found it really helpful and I would like to invite you to get your Value Builder Score.  There is no cost or obligation.  It will only take 13 minutes to complete.
Our research shows that companies achieving a score of 80+ out of a possible 100 get offers that are 71% higher than the average company. Whether you want to sell soon or run your business for decades, getting and growing your score makes economic sense.

Get your copy of the FREE REPORT… “12 Fatal Mistakes You Can Make When Transitioning Your Business”

I wish you all the insight and wisdom need to set your plans in place.  Until next week.

Health, Happiness and Abundance

Michael Stelter   Advanced Business Coaching, Inc.

“We help entrepreneurs leave their businesses with health, sanity and fair compensation for what they’ve created”

Watch the video and download your Free Report to learn how we can help!