If the headline above appeals to you, congratulations, you are probably an owner or management team member. I know how difficult it is to accomplish all that you’ve had to accomplish to be in the position you are in today. Furthermore, since you are reading Adweek, you probably work in an industry such as media, information services, technology or consumer goods—all massively competitive, where only the best can survive. And for some, in 2020, survival has been a challenge.
The uncertainty that this year has created may have triggered a thought such as: “I have a lot invested in this business and now may be a good time to sell part of it, take some chips off the table and provide additional protection, opportunity and growth to myself and my team.”
I empathize with this insight, as I sold part of my first marketing services business in 2008, which was a challenging year as well.
In the past four months, our private equity firm completed the sale of a media company and a digital consultancy for more than $150 million. There are buyers out there and they have capital, but things have changed. So, keep these seven essentials in mind to increase the probability of success.
1. Find your equivalent
I’ve always loved this quote from Napoleon Hill, “Every adversity brings with it the seed of equivalent advantage.” I was reminded of this quote during several recent conversations with business partner and decade-long friend, Tony Robbins.
One of his businesses also happens to be key to his mission: to help people. He prefers to do this through live events, but of course he has not been able to for most of the year. His solution was remarkable. He created a studio to conduct the largest Zoom call in the world and in doing so reimagined his business.
We’re not Tony and we don’t have his resources, but if he can do this with a live events business, it provides for a tremendous role model of what is possible. There is a seed of equivalent advantage in your business. You and your team can find it. And when you do, articulate it clearly and quickly to whomever you are approaching to buy into your business.
2. Define your sustainable competitive advantage now
You and your team must be able to articulate, illustrate, and demonstrate your sustainable competitive advantage quickly. And you must prove that in 2020 it is still as relevant as it was in years past. If you want to go to market with your business now, address what has changed upfront and how you managed to get through it while ‘future-proofing’ yourself in the process. Investment bankers and prospective bidders will have this concern in the back of their minds; answer it for them proactively.
3. Find a believer
One of the best tests to see if your business is ready to be sold is to present your story and financials to an investment banker. If they get excited and want to represent you, you have cleared a significant hurdle. Why? Because they have seen a dozen businesses like yours in the past month and they have their finger on the pulse of the market to determine how likely it is that you would have a successful transaction. You can choose to market your business on your own, but their insight about challenges you will face and potential valuation matters.