Richard Austin, J.D., LL.M., CIMA®, CBEC, Integrated Partners
| March 31, 2021
Lawrence Peter Berra is famous for two things: his abundance of World Series titles as a member of the New York Yankees and his “Yogiisms.” Montclair, New Jersey’s favorite famously told us “nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” and “when you come to the fork in the road, take it.” And he really mystified us when he said, “baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical.”
Business owners, and the CPAs who serve them, feel the same much of the time. Owning a business often feels 90 percent mental, and only about half the time is it satisfying.
Yogi was right. “The future ain’t what it used to be,” especially when “we make too many wrong mistakes” when it comes to selling a business and expecting satisfaction. Did you know only three out 100 business owners getting ready to sell were satisfied with the process?
To make sure it’s not “déjà vu all over again,” business owners need a great coach to ensure better results. It all begins by having defendable equity value in your business, and that requires a high level of confidence in three areas:
- Past and future revenues. Demonstrate the last five years of your financials and what’s ahead. You must show how the company will continue to grow and why you are confident in your forecasts.
- A trading multiple you can demand (if applicable). You must know how an outside buyer will view your company from a risk standpoint. Have you eliminated any causes for concern so you can demand a higher value?
- Ability to successfully realize equity value. There is no real value in your business if you are not able to monetize that equity through a transaction.
To build confidence that a business has a defendable equity value, the business owner, along with their CPA, must address the key value drivers of growth and equity value, which include the following:
- Company overview/business profile. Can you tell a compelling story of your company’s past and future? And is it documented?
- Financial performance/audit. Are you able to show the quality of your earnings to a potential buyer?
- Legal considerations. Do you have contractually committed revenue in the years ahead? Are key employees locked in to stay? Have you eliminated any legal issues?
- Documented growth. Can you document you are driving growth faster than the competition?
- Market share. Are you able to show that you are the big dog in your niche?
- Customer diversification. Have you been able to diversify your customer base? Do you have strong customer retention?
- Barriers to entry. Do you have a defensible market where competition is blocked using financial, legal and other means?
- Good branding. Can you deliver proof that your brand helps drive sales and marketing success?
Like a great coach once told me, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” It’s all about controlling what you can control so business owners can always get the most from their business — and CPAs can provide the best advice.
Yogi is right, “you can observe a lot just by watching.”