If you are considering selling your business, it is important to dedicate some thought to the type of sale that best allows you achieve your goals. Do you believe a full sale where you walk away from the company after closing is best for you? Are you the type of person who would work well with a strategic partner that, together, will allow for accelerated company growth? Is there an amount of time you would like to continue working after the transaction with a plan to slowly exit over time? Determining the type of sale that appears the most attractive (I only say ‘appears’ because many owners change their mind after learning what the market has to offer and will find a more attractive sale type than what was initially assumed to be the ‘best’) will also allow you to gain an understanding for the most likely type of buyer.
When selling your business, buyers typically fall into two main categories: strategic buyers and financial buyers. The best type of buyer for your business depends on personal goals you hope to achieve from the sale.
This type of buyer is more likely to pay a premium for a business because their reason for the acquisition is to add to their already existing business. A strategic buyer can be a competitor, supplier or vendor in the same industry. A strategic buyer can also be a focused on businesses of similar model that service the same sector. These attributes are commonly referred to as vertical and horizontal markets, respectively. Using what your company has to offer can help them either expand their footprint or break into a new market.
They are looking for synergies in a prospective merger or acquisition. Synergies are characteristics of the two companies that compliment each other, so that when they are put together, the sum equals more than the two parts individually. In other words, a strategic buyer wants to have a relationship that makes the resulting business more valuable than the two businesses when they stand on their own.
Finding a strategic buyer to work with your business will give you more options in a sale. You can decide to stay on with your business for a transition period, while the new company takes over and for an integration period, eventually allowing you to exit completely, or you can negotiate your continued role in the business as a key player in its continued development.
A strategic buyer can often outbid a financial buyer because of the synergistic relationship they are looking to create in your business. Your businesses together yield increased value, sometimes exponentially, in one way or another.
A financial buyer is looking to invest capital to get a return on their investment. Basically, they want to buy your business outright, make profits from it, and then sell it again to create liquidity. For this reason, a financial buyer is not typically willing to invest the same amount of capital they can invest into your business because they are not adding your business to an already existing company of theirs. Instead, they are buying your company as a whole and working with what you have in place already.
A financial buyer doesn’t have the ability to cut on backend costs that a strategic buyer does. They will need to buy a company with a good working structure and management team in place, since they may not be bringing a team of their own to take over all areas of the business. This allows owners to stay involved with their business to help it grow until the financial buyer decides it’s time to sell again.
The benefit to using a financial buyer is knowing that there is a high growth model in place for your business, and you will most likely play a role in its realized potential before it is sold again. This is a great option for a business owner who is looking for an eventual complete exit from his business.
Choosing the Best Fit
Now, there are some exceptions and looking at different buyers from a less seasoned perspective can make it difficult to understand exactly what type of buyer you are actually facing. For example, a financial buyer may have a portfolio of business that compliments yours which can allow for a synergistic fit, thereby allowing you to enjoy some of the benefits a strategic buyer brings to the table. It could also be that a financial buyer recognizes inefficiencies or ‘areas of improvement’ that will allow them to immediately increase the company’s profitability following an acquisition. On the other hand, a strategic buyer may only want to buyer your business to eliminate a competitor and has no real intention of growing your business after the transaction takes place. Simply put, they may just want to prevent your business from continuing to eat up market share whether that be by forcing the company to remain static or by closing the doors.When it comes to selling your business, it is important to consider all your options in a sale. You need to find a buyer that will bring what you are looking for to a sale. Selling your business for a high value is important, but is it worth compromising the culture of your business or your employees? You need to decide what is most important to you and let those values be driving factors in your decisions in a sale.
It is tough to find the best fit for your business on your own. That’s why using a sell side mergers and acquisitions firm like Benchmark International is essential. You will have someone on your side who can help you find the right buyer for your needs. You can also learn more about what you can negotiate in a sale and you can discuss what’s most important to you to make sure those needs are met in a sale.
If you are thinking of selling your business, Benchmark International is dedicated to helping business owners like you achieve what they are looking for in a sale.
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