I started my first business in 2013, and in 2018, I decided that I was ready to move on to something new. Then I had a crazy thought: could I sell what I’ve created? From the first thought of wanting to sell, to preparing the listing and vetting offers, navigating contract negotiations, and then transitioning ownership – it took nearly two years to sell and I learned a lot in the process.
As someone with zero business experience when I started, I sometimes have to pinch myself when I think about the fact that I was able to build a sellable business from scratch – oh, and did I mention that I sold it without the use of a broker? Happy to share that story another day!
One of the most important things I learned by selling my business is that you have to prepare early – ideally before you decide to sell. However, most small business owners and entrepreneurs have never sold a business before, so it’s difficult to know how to prepare!
Based on my experience, here are the top three things you should do if you want to sell your business someday.
1. Streamline your process.
In the first couple of years in my (now sold) business, I spent a lot of time and money experimenting with different platforms, funnels, and softwares. I had more than a dozen freebies. My sales process was piecemeal. I was learning as I went. This is a great way to find out what works but you don’t want to (and might not even be able to) hand off a business that is a mess.
Tip number one is to clean up your process for lead generation, auto responders, and anything else you’ve played around with so that the systems you have in place become a selling point. Every step of your process needs to be documented so that the new team can easily take over.
Even if you don’t end up selling your business, this will help you show up as a more effective CEO (think of it like organizing your virtual office space).
2. Get organized.
When’s the last time you organized your documents and images? Are your passwords stored on a sticky note? Are any of your business passwords also the same as your personal bank account password? Eeeek, don’t do that!
When someone buys your business, they are buying all of your assets and they will need to know where to find them. When you’re caught up in the day to day of running a business, it’s so easy to let everything pile up (does anyone else let most of their documents live in the downloads folder?). Similar to streamlining your process, getting organized will enable you to be more efficient in your business now, and it’s essential to ensuring that you can easily hand over your assets to the new owner.
3. Build and nurture relationships.
When someone buys your business or brand, they are buying the relationships you’ve created. You’re probably already focusing on building relationships with potential clients and others in your industry. Just make sure that once you decide to sell, you don’t drop the ball on continuing to build relationships with new clients and partners and nurturing the ones that already exist. Check in with your past clients, look for new ways to collaborate and keep giving value up until the day that the deal is done and the new ownership has taken over!
Building a sellable business takes work and it takes planning, but here’s the good news – all of these tips are also everyday good business practices, too!
How this female entrepreneur is saving her event planning company
As everyone already knows all too well, COVID 19 Emergency orders impose severe restrictions of the number of people permitted to gather. That means no large weddings, concerts, conferences, or live events of any kind. This equates to serious trouble and even bankruptcy for companies that depend on large gatherings for their livelihoods.
With these severe restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, event planners, conferences and event rentals businesses have been forced to fold their business or go into hibernation mode and lay off their staff. Legendary New York Metropolitan Opera has announced its closure until September 2021, Broadway is closed until 2021, Cirque de Soliel has filed for bankruptcy and cut 3500 jobs, Live Nation has had massive layoffs, Feld Entertainment (producer of Disney on Ice) has permanently laid off 90% of its staff. Private event planning companies and event venues are seeing up to 98% reductions in sales with many going out of business… the list goes on and on. With many event companies shutting their doors some may think this could mean the obliteration of the events industry entirely.
Within all the darkness emerges a little bit of light. A few select companies have figured out how to innovate and pivot, keeping the doors open and the phones ringing. A great example is the success story of Pop! Events Group a well-known, Female owned corporate event planning business based in Toronto for over 15 years.
“Things started to go downhill very fast” said Dawne Eisenberg, Co-Owner and CEO of Pop! Events Group. “We saw this coming as early as February when customers were afraid to commit to contracts, and then the worst happened… clients cancelling all events, large deposits having to be returned, and my business in debt with no booking potentially for years.” Suddenly her successful business was tanking.
Not one to panic, Eisenberg gathered her team and inspired them to rise to the occasion and quickly developed an entire new division of their business based around virtual events. They built several Zoom studios and designed engaging activities that leveraged their existing assets to work online. “We have always been successful because of our ability to innovate based on current trends,” says Eisenberg. “Once the virus hit, we saw a new opportunity: employees that previously had daily contact with one another were sequestered to their homes and forced to work remotely”. “We realized the greatest problem we could solve was a manager’s struggle to connect and engage with their now- remote employees”.
“They developed a massive variety of event offerings”
The team at Pop! Events Group quickly went to work solving the problem of employee engagement for remote teams. They developed a massive variety of event offerings ranging from team building events, awards galas, casino events and holiday parties… all done online. Activities such as Virtual Family Feud and virtual wine tastings would replace the usual in person team building. Virtual children’s holiday parties featuring digital scavenger hunts and personalized Zoom chats with Santa would replace the traditional lavish corporate children’s holiday parties.
“It took some time and a lot of effort to get everything up and running but now the requests are pouring in and we are busier than ever!” says Eisenberg “we not only have previous clients converting to virtual but an onslaught on new business, from working directly with corporations and HR, to helping other event companies generate revenue by using our services to satisfy their client needs”.
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