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Selling your business: plan your exit from day one

Interview with...

Michael O'Connell, A.S. Fisher
Topics covered:
Planning your exit, business valuation
CV:
Mentoring/coaching busineses with roughly 50-100 employees through a change in their structure or product type, or for a transfer of ownership
Expertise:
Business optimization, including business brokerage, facilitating and coaching
Location:
Sydney

BusinessesForSale.com: How far in advance of selling your business should you begin preparing a business for sale?

Michael O'Connell: I think you should go into business with the view to selling. Especially these days, most businesses should change their senior management and their strategy around about every eight years.

If you don't start looking at what you're going to do to get out of the business and create the value in the business from day one then you tend to get trapped within the job rather than the business.

BFS: Do you have a problem with sellers balking at your valuation because of their emotional attachment to the business? 

MO:  It depends whether you are going to sell to a buyer who is buying themselves a job or a strategic buyer, or trade sale. I prefer that the vendor comes up with the valuation themselves and then we discuss how it is likely that we're going to be able to find somebody to buy at that price. 

Valuations of a business are little bit like valuing a painting before an auction

BFS: Are sellers finding it hard generally to realize their asking price?

MO: Statistically SMEs always find it very difficult to sell their business because it's not easy to get money to buy a business in Australia.

So if it's a very small business it will be purchased by someone who wants to buy themselves a job with their superannuation or their family wants to buy it for them. 

Once its priced at a reasonable figure then it's very difficult to get money and then you have to justify it to your lender, so if you're not going to make money back over a relatively short period of time then it's not only the unwillingness of the buyer to pay the price, it's the inability to fund the purchase. 

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