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Private business exit: Q2. What exactly does your business offer the world?

In my series of 16 questions to develop a plan to sell your private company, I first asked “Why do you want to sell?” Now I want to know about your business: what exactly does it offer the world? If you can’t articulate your market offer, how do you expect a potential buyer of your business to understand what it does, and by implication why it is an attractive business for them to buy?

Long-time readers will be familiar with my market offer concept. It isn’t an advertising jingle. It’s a statement that you and your team use to sum up just what it is you do, to guide you in developing products and services, promoting them, and fulfilling your market offer:

  • What your products and services are, why (and what not and why not).
  • Who your customers are, why, and why they should want your offer (and who isn’t and why not).
  • How and when you do things and why (and how you won’t do things and why not).
  • Where your customers are, where you do things, etc (and of course where not).
  • You can also get useful insights by asking what is your market offer for staff, suppliers, and business partners as well as customers.

By the way, I’m assuming you want maximum value. Leaving value on the table for the buyer to gain by making improvements you could have made is just giving money away! Understanding your market offer will help you improve your business operation, optimising it to make and fulfil that offer and eliminating anything that doesn’t support or fit in with your market offer. Actually, you should go through this exercise even if you don’t plan to sell your business at some time.

First posted July 8th, 2008