How to sell your business at a killer valuation

Having an exit route planned is part the game for thousands of entrepreneurs, but if you want to cash in on the full value of what you've built, here are some tips to get the best offer from the other side...

by Mark Mills
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Establish an air of confidence

A company must have self-confidence in order to push itself forward. If you don’t believe in your products or brands 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 flipside 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. 

Think positive

Instil positive terminology, concentrating on what is great about your product and your company.

It doesn’t look good if your staff are fixated on the strengths of their competition, essentially 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 Brits but it’s vital to create an atmosphere of positivity that will trickle down through the ranks. Use it in everyday business functions: emails, documents and meetings.

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. Obviously you may not have the money to spend a monstrous amount on it, but it’s worth putting the effort in, even if it only costs £100 from designer on a freelancing website.

Don’t just pop to the nearest printer and get him to weave some initials together. The power of branding should never be underestimated. 

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.

Sweat the small stuff

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 10 of these tiny impediments then it will affect perceptions of your business.

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.

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.

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. 

Give your staff a pat on the back

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.

Find your hidden treasure

Every company has hidden value. It 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. 

Mark Mills is founder of Comerga Consulting

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