Selling Your Business in a Recession

The recession has us all wondering “what do I do now?”  I’d planned on exiting my business and thought the exit was just around the corner.  Now, valuations are depressed, the banking situation isn’t allowing deals to get done, private equity firms are focusing on maintaining current portfolio holdings, and on and on.

The good news is that the lapse in activity in the M&A space allows you some time to position you company for even more value than it would have gotten previously in the open market.  You should immediately start focusing on the parts of your business that can have a significant impact on valuation, for example:

 1. Develop a strategy for growth that is reasonable and understandable
2. Begin to move yourself out of the company.  Allow your key employees to start making real decisions and tell them why you’re suddenly doing that.
3. Look at your cusotmers.  Begin to understand which customers drive the most PROFIT, not revenue.  Don’t ask your sales people who your best customers are.  Get the data and figure it out for yourself.
4. Watch your cash flow.  Real estate is valued by three things, “location, location and location”.  Businesses are valued on cash flow.
5. Look at your business processes and systems.  Will they sustain the growth that you envision?  Will they provide adequate information about growth that will allow you to make corrections as necessary?
6. Review your expenses.  Okay, you’ve probably already done this but do it again.  Cut the unecessary costs and refer back to point 4, watch your cash flow.
7. Sperate your personal life from your business.  Now is the time to start looking at things  like the company car, and other things that you need as the owner to run the business effectively.  The question to ask here is “will others need to incurr this expense when I’m not around?”

 For the time being, holding pat may be a good strategy.  But don’t stand still.  Be prepared to be the first back in the market once things turn around.