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Private business exit: Q11. What should you do to improve your business attractiveness?

In this series on selling a mid-size privately-held business, we’ve asked a lot of questions so far.  Hopefully, the discussion has thrown up lots of ideas; probably far more than you can hope to take action, probably some that are mutually exclusive. But this question isn't about what you could do; it's about what you should do.

I’m reminded of the late Sir Peter Blake’s famous mantra, “Will it make the boat go faster?” If any proposed idea, action or purchase wouldn't result in the NZ America’s Cup challenger’s boat going faster, he wasn’t going to waste time or money on it. Likewise you need to assess all the ideas you’ve generated against some criteria to determine if they are worth pursuing:
  • How much increased value will this add to our net worth?
  • How well does it fit into our business?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How hard is it for us to to do?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much of my team’s and my time will it take?
  • How likely is the projected outcome (e.g. market uptake, lack of competition, projected savings, etc)?
  • What impact will this have on normal business performance, while we are busy doing this instead?

Or, in a nutshell, “Will it make our business easier to sell, and is it worth the effort?” Rank all the ideas and pick the few things, if any, that will really make a difference. Then get them done quickly.

Also don’t forget the real estate agent’s advice: leave something for the buyer to do (especially if it’s long, complex, small value, or risky).

First posted September 10th, 2008