1. Retain a professional: Retaining a firm can help provide clarity about what needs to be done and in what order. Ideally several years before your exit.

2. Optimize your performance: This can include multiple activities, from staffing and inventory to systems and processes in order to maximize efficiency.

3. Physical cleanup: Not unlike the sale of a house where the maximum price is often achieved through staging, the same applies to your business, and a buyer’s first impression is critical. 

4. Fiscal cleanup: Work with an accountant to remove non-business assets and expenses and clean up the books.

5. Systems and processes: Documented systems and processes should be in place to make it easy for the new operator to step into your role. 

6. Make yourself disposable: Remove yourself from daily operations and engage your employees in processes such as cross-training so your business is less reliant on any one individual and specifically you as the owner.  

7. Reduce customer risk: If any single customer represents more than 10 percent of your total revenue, this is often a risk to buyers. The answer may be to expand your customer base.

8. Written contracts: Having contracts in place, a high level of repeat customers, and a committed pipeline will give buyers confidence because this indicates that your business will continue without disruption.  

9. Know your valuation: Have an independent third-party like Pacific M&A provide a formal valuation that includes historical data and future income potentials, market comparisons, cost methodologies and value drivers. This will demonstrate credibility to a buyer. In addition, this analysis will provide the owner with a benchmark of performance and is an excellent tool for identifying areas of inefficiency to be targeted for improvement.

10. Create the right culture: Develop a culture among the staff that can be clearly identified and described to a potential buyer. 

Find a qualified adviser such as that can help determine if a company should remain independent, merge or liquidate. This, in turn, dictates to whom you would sell and sets the correct stage for the steps to follow. 

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with Pacific M&A and Business Brokers Ltd.