Highlight Intangible Assets in a Business Sale

Intangible assets are marketed and sold with a business. This article explains what intangible assets are and how identifying, supporting and protecting them produces a better outcome when you sell your company. Here goes!

What is an Intangible Asset?

Intangible assets are non-physical in nature. They are something you can identify, describe, document (e.g. a contract, list, logo, drawing or schematic) and, most importantly, transfer. Intellectual property is a common type of intangible asset. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), in its ASC 805 standard for reporting of Business Combinations, separates intangible assets into these categories:

  1. Marketing-related: such as trade names, trademarks, non-compete agreements and URLs
  2. Customer-related: customer lists, contracts and relationships, order backlog
  3. Artistic-related: works of art, magazines, books and articles
  4. Contract-based: permits and licenses, licensing and royalty agreements, franchise agreements
  5. Technology-based: trade secrets, databases, patented technology

Do all intangible assets have value?

Just because an intangible asset exists, doesn’t automatically give it economic value. To have value it needs to produce some form of economic benefit. For example:

  • Generate operating or licensing income
  • Reduce operating expenses or future capital spending
  • Reduce business risk

As I touched on earlier, an intangible asset must be transferable in a sale to have value to a new owner. The valuation of identifiable intangible assets is a topic for another day.

Goodwill is excluded from the above list because it is considered to be a blended residual asset. Goodwill is influenced by factors such as high profit margins, barriers to market entry, competitive advantages, a regulated protected position or lack of regulation, longevity in the market, a trained work force, etc.  Synergistic value associated with premiums paid by strategic buyers are often considered “blue sky” value above a justifiable goodwill value.

Document to Impress

After you have a complete inventory of your company’s intangible assets, the next step is to be sure that the key ones are documented in a manner that will satisfy buyers. For example, documentation of customer-based intangibles may include: a well-populated CRM database, executed master supply agreements, customer correspondence , vendor quality audit records, invoice and contribution margin history, sales by customer reports, AR aging schedules, purchase orders, open quote files, etc.

Protect Your Assets

While documenting your company’s primary intangible assets, you are likely to uncover some that need better protecting, through public registration (e.g. patents), securing or improving contracts, or better restricting access.

For a lot of Exit Strategies’ seller clients, trade secrets are their most valuable intangible assets. Suppose a significant portion of your company’s profitability is attributed to a proprietary production process. Ask yourself these questions: Is the process perfected and documented? Are you taking appropriate measures to keep the process secret? Is access sufficiently limited? Do you have appropriate data security? Do you have non-disclosure agreements with third parties?  Do you have confidentiality agreements with restrictive covenants with your employees? If not, you know what to do next.

Capitalizing on Intangible Assets in a Sale Process

Your intangible assets become the focal point of the Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM) prepared by your M&A advisor. The CIM can also articulate those intangibles that are underutilized and have potential to produce economic benefits to a new owner. We use our knowledge of your intangible assets to decide which target strategic acquirers are likely to derive the greatest value from them. We tailor our outreach strategy and communications accordingly. In the end, this generates more interest and better offers for the company in an M&A auction process. The M&A advisor can also advise on how and when to disclose sensitive details about key intangible assets during the discovery and due diligence phases of a merger or acquisition.

*         *          *

An investment in perfecting, identifying, documenting and protecting intangible assets is usually well rewarded in a sale. Exit Strategies helps clients unearth and take full advantage of the intangible assets buried in their businesses when going to market. If you’d like help in this regard or have any questions, you can reach Al Statz at 707-781-8580 or alstatz@exitstrategiesgroup.com.

Phase I Environmental Assessment in M&A Transactions

A Phase I environmental site assessment is commonly required by buyers and lenders in merger and acquisition transactions that include commercial real estate. One may even be called for when the target company (seller) uses or stores hazardous materials at a leased facility.

Sellers are generally rewarded for conducting a Phase I assessment before taking a deal to the marketplace. Understanding environmental risk allows sellers to argue for a higher price and increases the likelihood of closing a deal. This article explains why.

What is a Phase I Environmental Assessment?

A Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) consists of a thorough inspection of a commercial property and research into its current and historical use to identify potential environmental contamination liabilities. These assessments are conducted by independent, certified and trained professionals. The environmental expert produces a written Phase I report. When site contamination is found to be likely, a Phase II investigation follows, which involves taking soil, groundwater or material samples.

What All Buyers Want

When acquiring a business, buyers want to understand the potential liability for environmental contamination on facilities owned or operated by the target company; any past non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations; and costs to comply with any post-closing environmental compliance obligations. An understanding of their potential liabilities as a parent or successor dictates their acquisition strategy.  The scope of a buyer’s potential liability for existing environmental contamination issues can influence the basic structure of the transaction — asset or stock purchase — and proposed purchase agreement provisions.

How Sellers Benefit

Obtaining a Phase I report before putting a business with real property up for sale provides several benefits to sellers. It flags potential problems that the seller can mitigate or remediate in advance. If contamination is reported to be present or likely, the seller can better compare the value of bids and make better decisions regarding indemnities and potential insurance products. Having a Phase I report increases a buyer’s comfort, and results in better offers, less renegotiation and a smoother LOI-to-closing process.

Al Statz is founder and President of business valuation and M&A brokerage firm Exit Strategies Group, Inc., which has offices in California and Oregon. For further information on this subject or to discuss a valuation or M&A question or need, confidentially, you can reach Al at 707-781-8580 or alstatz@exitstrategiesgroup.com.

Roundup of Recent Sale Transactions

Finding time to sit down and write informative blogs has been almost impossible this year. Thanks in advance for giving me a pass as I recap some of Exit Strategies’ recent deal closings in this post.

Below are some of the transactions for which Exit Strategies (ESGI) provided sell-side advisory services in the first half of 2019. Not represented here are deals that we have been asked not to announce, nor the many internal buy-sell transactions and management buyouts for which we provided business valuation services. As always, deal terms are not disclosed, to respect our clients’ privacy.

Sale of Eldercare Services to Home Care Assistance

Eldercare Services is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top professional eldercare management and home care services providers. The baby boomer owners of ES were looking to turn their business investment into cash (i.e. “liquify” their investment), maximize value and retire. Home Care Assistance is a leading provider of home care for seniors in 150 regions throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia. (service, health care)

Sale of DC Precision to Tecan Group

DC Precision, established in 1999, manufactures high precision plastic valve assemblies for life science OEMs and metal products for Silicon Valley high-tech manufacturers. Our client was ready to pursue other business interests. Tecan Group is a Swiss manufacturer of automated workflow equipment for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, university research departments and diagnostic laboratories. (contract manufacturing, CNC machining, proprietary technology, turn-key assembly)

Sale of Precision Asphere to II-VI Optical Systems

Precision Asphere produces aspherical optical components (lenses and mirrors) using proprietary surface-forming technology. The majority owner wanted to retire. II-VI Optical Systems develops and produces highly engineered materials and material systems for medical, defense, aerospace and military clients.  (manufacturing, technology)

Sale of Axis of New England and New York to Motion Industries

Read the ESGI announcement here.  Our clients were looking to take advantage of industry consolidation and maximize value through a competitive M&A sale process. (distribution, manufacturing, robotics, technology, service, system integration)

Sale of DZINE Living to Haworth

DZINE is an interior design services and contemporary European furnishings retailer in San Francisco. Our clients were looking to align with a major industry player that would help DZINE to expand its footprint. Haworth is a global company that designs and sells furniture, furniture systems, architectural products, textiles, wall surfaces, and ergonomic and technology tools for workspaces, education and health care. (retail, service)

Sale of You & Me Children’s Center to an Industry Investor

Founded in 1981, You & Me Children’s Center is a local preschool committed to providing a nurturing, safe and educational environment for children. The owner wanted to retire, liquefy her investment and see her legacy survive. The buyer is an experienced preschool operator. (service, education)

Sale of Home Tutoring Plus to a Private Investor

Home Tutoring Plus is a tutoring company serving schools and home school families throughout much of Northern California. Professional tutors provide individualized lessons, in-home and online. Our client engaged us to locate a buyer that would preserve her legacy while maximizing her investment so she could pursue new interests in retirement. (service, education)

Sale of Redwood Building Maintenance Company to Silicon Valley Building Services

Founded in 1965, Redwood Building Maintenance is a full service janitorial and building maintenance company serving the North San Francisco Bay Area. The family owners were ready to retire.  Silicon Valley Building Services primarily serves the south and east Bay Area and this gave them an opportunity to expand. (B2B services, contract maintenance)

Sale of Banner Enterprises to Valley Comfort

Banner Enterprises and Valley Comfort Heating and Air are both full service commercial HVAC companies serving the Bay Area. Our client was looking to sell his business and building in order to retire and reinvest. (construction, services, real estate)

Sale of Communique Interpreting to DCARA

Since 1994, Communique Interpreting has provided in-person sign language interpreting services from Monterey to the Oregon border, in medical, employment, education, legal, performing art and social services settings. Our client wanted to sell her business and building and retire. DCARA, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, provides interpreting, advocacy and employment services for hearing impaired children, adults and families in Northern California. (services, non-profit, commercial real estate)

Sale of a Dietary Supplements Producer to a Strategic Buyer

A producer of herbal supplements sold through U.S. medical practitioners. The owner engaged us to find a strategic partner that could scale the company and allow him to reduce his involvement in operations and transition to retirement. More details next month. (health care, manufacturing)

Conclusions?

Two themes jump out at me: most acquirers were strategic and most sellers were looking to retire. Indeed, we’re seeing tremendous strategic acquisition activity in virtually every industry Most sellers are able to maximize value through a structured auction (competitive bid) process run by a professional M&A brokerage firm. And as long as baby boomers continue to age out, Exit Strategies will largely be a retirement facilitator.

Action Items

If you are considering exiting your company for any reason, call or Email us to discuss your goals and circumstances, and how you can leverage Exit Strategies’ process, resources and experience to improve your results. If you are waiting for market conditions to improve, stop waiting and begin the process!


Al Statz is founder and President of business valuation and M&A brokerage firm Exit Strategies Group, Inc., which has offices in California and Oregon. For further information or to discuss a valuation or M&A question or need, confidentially, you can reach Al at 707-781-8580 or alstatz@exitstrategiesgroup.com.

Steps in a Management Buyout

As a friend of Exit Strategies you know us as M&A brokers and appraisers, but you may not know that we advise on management buyouts.

By management buyout (MBO) I mean selling a company or business unit to managers and key employees using a combination of equity and debt. The assets and cash flows of the company are used to finance most of the purchase price, with the equity portion supplied by management or a Private Equity investor, depending on the size, profitability and nature of the company.

Business owners who choose the MBO exit option typically have strong non-financial motivations. Don’t get me wrong, price is important to them. However, factors such as company legacy, employee welfare and local community are often equally and sometimes more important.

Typical MBO Steps

When advising company owners on management buyouts, we start by understanding our client’s short- and long-term goals, needs and circumstances. If an MBO appears to be appropriate, we will:

  1. Prepare an independent business valuation (fair market value) to provide guidance on pricing and feasibility
  2. Work with financial, tax and legal counsel to determine a deal structure that achieves the owner’s liquidity and income goals
  3. Obtain confidentiality agreements from interested parties
  4. Meet with managers to understand their interest level, goals and resources; educate them on the MBO process; confirm feasibility
  5. Develop a transaction roadmap
  6. Collect details on buyer experience, credit, funds and collateral
  7. Prepare a confidential information memorandum, source documents and disclosures to fill management’s knowledge gaps and explain the merits of the transaction to their advisors and lenders
  8. Recommend wealth management, legal and tax professionals (if needed) and coordinate with them
  9. Evaluate debt financing options (including seller note) and the potential of “rollover” equity
  10. Determine if private equity capital is necessary or desired, and available
  11. Recommend and liaise with best-fit debt and equity providers
  12. Propose terms and facilitate sensitive negotiations while buffering emotions
  13. Draft a nonbinding memorandum of understanding on key deal terms, transaction process and timeframes
  14. Facilitate buyer, seller and lender due diligence
  15. Assist buyers with financial models, business plans and shareholder agreements as needed
  16. Work with the parties’ legal teams to finalize definitive agreements
  17. Advise on leadership transition
  18. Coordinate satisfaction of closing conditions, resolve problems that arise, and maintain momentum for a timely deal closing

Every buyout is unique. We add, remove and rearrange steps as needed, and help both sides navigate the process. In some cases, management, not the owner, initiates the buyout.

Biggest Challenges

Owners and management employees usually lack the time and deal experience to complete successful buyouts on their own. The interdependent owner-employee relationship raises the stakes for all parties and magnifies the consequences of a failed negotiation. Three areas seem to be especially challenging for owners and management:

  1. locking in a fair purchase price (business valuation),
  2. determining the right deal structure, and
  3. financing

Most Common MBO Mistake

For a management buyout to succeed, a business usually has to have a solid earnings track record in order to prove it can service the debt. Management must demonstrate the requisite skills, experience and commitment. Putting everything in place can take months or years of preparation. Waiting too long to begin this process is the most common mistake I see owners make.

Backup Plan

Of course, there is always the possibility that the MBO will fall through, and you should be prepared for that possibility. That may involve creating incentives for management to stay on and being ready to market and sell the company to third party strategic and/or financial buyers.

The First Step

If you are considering selling your company to management some day, feel free to call us to discuss your goals and needs, confidentially.

Al Statz is the founder of Exit Strategies Group and a senior M&A advisor in the firm’s Sonoma County California headquarters. Email Al or call him at 707-781-8580.

Financial exit planning, Is your business ready?

I recently had a client looking to sell their medical supply business and retire. I worked with management to pull together all the documentation and financials needed, and conducted conduct a probable selling price analysis. With report in hand I met with our clients to review the results and plan a go-to-market strategy.

Unfortunately, the probable selling price fell slightly short of what the client needed to retire (after taxes). We identified excessive inventory as one of the factors that was limiting enterprise value. How did inventory reduce value and spoil our client’s exit strategy? What can they do resolve this limitation? Read on for the full story.

The company had thousands of SKUs, colors, shapes, types and sizes of medical supplies in inventory. Fully 78% of its assets were in inventory. Current assets exceeded 99% of total company assets. We compared our client’s financials against 10,000+ companies in the industry. The industry was averaging 35 days of inventory on hand (11 turns per year). By comparison our client turned its inventory less than once per year. Keep these figures in mind as we continue.

Cash Flow is King

It’s no surprise that buyers of going concern businesses buy primarily to get returns on their time and money invested. Tying up cash in inventory means less cash to operate or invest in the business (or pay dividends to investors) and increases the risk that you won’t get your money back out of your inventory. But there’s more to this story about how inventory affects value.

The income approach to valuation is based on the concept that a business is worth the present value of its expected future cash flows to its owners. The other approaches to value (market and asset approaches) are also important, but cash flow is ultimately king.

A common income valuation method involves dividing the forecasted net cash flow by a capitalization rate (Cap Rate). The capitalization rate is a function of the expected growth and risks inherent in a company. There’s a lot that goes into calculating appropriate risk and growth rates, but here’s the basic formula:

Value = Net Cash Flow / (Risk – Growth)

Crunching the Numbers

Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

  • With minimal current liabilities and high current assets, the company had high working capital requirements.

Working Capital Turnover (Sales / Working Capital)

  • I previously mentioned that the company turns over inventory less than once a year. This suggests either too much inventory or not enough sales, or both.
  • The working capital turnover for this company was an average of 2 (i.e. sales were 2x working capital cost).
  • Industry data showed an average working capital turnover ratio of 7-8.

Net Cash Flow Calculation

  • Net cash flow to equity (NCFe) measures the cash flow to shareholders in a company (equity interest holders).
  • NCFe = normalized after-tax net income + depreciation – less capital expenses – increases in working capital +/- changes in interest-bearing debt.
  • Notice the NCFe formula subtracts increases in working capital. As a company grows, working capital increases, which means less cash for shareholders. For this client, working capital growth reduced cash flow by 25%.

Enough Numbers – Back to Our Story

Our client’s business has a high risk of not selling through years of inventory before that inventory becomes obsolete, expired, lost, stolen or damaged. Therefore, the value from the income approach came in lower than the market approach and asset approach results. In fact, the cost of inventory was higher than the value of the company on a going concern basis. Even in liquidation, the full value could not be realized after the costs of liquidating.

The moral of this story is that a hard-earned business exit can be busted by excessive inventory and inefficient use of working capital. In this case, we advised our client to put their exit on hold for a few years and work strategically to reduce inventory and increase sales. Not only will the reduction in inventory increase future value, but it will also put more cash in the client’s pocket along the way.

If you’re considering a sale and wondering what financial shape your company is in, Exit Strategies’ team of M&A brokers and business appraisers can help you determine value, evaluate strategic alternatives and maximize results.

Michael Lyman CVA is a certified valuation analyst and M&A broker specializing in health care, technology and education fields. With 15 years’ experience working in and building his knowledge in these markets, Michael understands the needs of sellers, buyer and investors. His background includes university positions, two successful e-commerce startups and president/CEO of a small pediatric health care business.

See our related blog post on Managing Working Capital to Increase Business Value.

Manage Working Capital to Increase Business Value

As you likely know, working capital equals current assets minus current liabilities. Companies that have a high level of cash tied up in current assets (primarily cash, accounts receivable, and inventory) without similar levels of current liabilities are not as attractive as those who tightly manage their working capital. Buyers are often leery of businesses that require high working capital to sales ratios because as sales grow the company must continually invest more cash in working capital. Conversely, companies with low working capital can grow faster and return more cash to shareholders as they grow.

One Recent Example

We were recently retained to do a fair market value business valuation of a multi-state, value-added industrial distribution company for a shareholder buyout. The company was a profitable going concern. While it showed modest EBITDA margins, its working capital requirements were unusually high, primarily due to extraordinarily high accounts receivable and inventory levels.

A prior valuation done not long ago for a different purpose had relied solely on an Asset Approach method. Specifically they used the Adjusted Book Value (ABV) method where all assets and liabilities are marked to market. Thanks to the company’s high current assets combined with almost no current or long-term liabilities, the result was a high valuation number. As part of our analysis, we naturally considered the prior valuation. We wondered how valid its conclusion was from the perspective of a hypothetical buyer of a going concern business who would be concerned with future cash flows.

Following standard business valuation practice, we considered the three approaches to valuation: asset, market and income. The asset approach using ABV gave results marginally higher than the prior valuation while the market approach (comparable asset transactions method) values were slightly lower. However, when we analyzed the income approach using a single period capitalization method (SPCM), our result was substantially lower than the asset approach. Why? Because the SPC method is based on capitalization of net cash flow to equity holders, which considers changes in working capital that are largely ignored by the asset and market approach.

We were compelled to give some weight to the income approach results as we believe knowledgeable buyers of shares in the company would have a strong  interest in their expected return on investment. The result was a valuation conclusion somewhat lower than adjusted book value.

Theory Holds True in Practice

I want to point out that this affect of working capital on enterprise value isn’t just abstract financial theory. We regularly see it play out in actual M&A transactions where buyers have no interest in paying more for companies with higher working capital. And we often see sellers rewarded (sell for higher earnings multiples than their industry peers) for having proven that they can operate effectively with less working capital.

It is also interesting to note that in this case, should the owners of the company have tried to liquidate the company’s assets to generate cash, the net amount yielded would have been substantially less than adjusted book value. Given that the company had no plans to liquidate, we didn’t consider using a liquidation value.

What Companies Should Be Doing in this Area

Company owners and management should constantly reevaluate and consider modifying their accounts payable and borrowing practices, as well as focus on ways to reduce accounts receivable and inventory requirements. All of which will reduce working capital, generate cash, enable faster growth, and increase shareholder value. Sometimes this even means making tough decisions like firing a customer or replacing a key vendor.

For further information on how working capital affects enterprise value, or to have a business analyzed for sale, acquisition or exit planning purposes, contact Jim Leonhard, CVA MBA  at 916-800-2716 or jhleonhard@exitstrategiesgroup.com. 

Business sale planning: Three lessons from Shark Tank

As an M&A advisor having participated in the sale of businesses ranging in price from $500 thousand to $100 million, I enjoy watching ABC’s Shark Tank. On the show, entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of five investors (“sharks”) who then decide whether or not to invest. Today I want to pass along three key takeaways from Shark Tank for every business owner who plans to sell their business some day.

1. The business valuation has to be realistic and defensible

Many times on Shark Tank, the valuation of a company is way too high. The asking price is not based on sound valuation principles and is not defensible. The Sharks opt out because the owner is unrealistic. This is an important lesson for business owners looking to sell their company. A realistic and well-supported valuation invites serious and capable buyers who seek a reasonable return on their investment, and an unrealistic valuation chases away buyers.

2. Presentation is fundamentally important

The Sharks don’t know anything about the companies prior to the pitch, and the sellers get one shot at presenting their information in the Tank. This is the same in a business sale process. Potential buyers don’t know much about the seller’s business, and if they are familiar it, they don’t know the details of the financials, operations, personnel, markets, customer base, systems, etc. Brokers know the kind of information buyers want and need, and how to position a company for sale or investment. They prepare a Confidential Information Memorandum for use in the sale process to give qualified buyers the information they need to make their best offer, and an offer that will survive due diligence.

3. Deal negotiations – competition is key

Sharks, like all buyers, hate competing for a deal. Sellers love competition because they get to choose the best terms available in the market. Having a broker in a deal creates competition among potential investors (buyers) because brokers promote the acquisition opportunity to a broad and targeted audience. Envision a shark feeding frenzy! Even if only one buyer prospect comes along and begins the negotiation process, they know that low-balling a fairly priced business will likely not fly in a competitive open market of buyers being orchestrated by an experienced broker. In the absence of a broker, it’s anyone’s guess where things will end up, but not likely as good of a deal in the absence of a competitive environment.

Keeping these three lessons from Shark Tank in mind as you go through the exit planning and business sale process will likely lead to a better outcome for you and your stakeholders.

Not familiar with Shark Tank? Shark Tank is an Emmy Award-winning structured reality television series on ABC, now in its tenth season.  Watch Shark Tank on ABC.com

For more information on buying or selling a business, Email Louis Cionci at LCionci@exitstrategiesgroup.com or call him at 707-781-8582.

How to Build a Sellable Construction Business

With the San Francisco Bay Area building industry booming I am regularly approached by the owners of construction companies with requests to help them to sell their companies. As interest rates are low (but creeping up) and investors are still in the market for solid businesses, some construction company owners with strong financial histories and future growth prospects are looking to cash out.

However, even in the best of times construction companies are notoriously difficult to sell. Any business that requires a professional accreditation (like a California contractor’s license) to operate will logically attract fewer buyer prospects. Buyers with the requisite licenses and financial resources often prefer to start their own companies rather than buy someone else’s. Many construction companies even large ones depend heavily on their owner’s experience and contacts to attract business. When it comes to selling, the personal goodwill of the owner is tough to transfer to a new owner.

If that weren’t enough, many construction businesses have high capital equipment costs, high labor costs and because of retention are slow to receive payment for their services. Furthermore, the industry is cyclical which increases the need to maintain cash reserves. These factors increase overall working capital requirements for construction businesses and make them difficult to finance and expensive to manage.

So, what qualities in a construction company are attractive to buyers? This list is a good start:

Experienced and Dedicated Labor

Unemployment in the Bay Area hovered at just under 3% in October. The market for construction-related jobs is even tighter. For many Bay Area construction companies growth is constrained not by demand for their services but by their ability to complete the work. Some of these companies are resorting to acquisitions of other companies simply to secure talent. Owners of companies with trained and dedicated employees are well positioned to benefit from this industry wide challenge.

Committed Management Team

Businesses with multiple owners that compose the management team and want to retire at the same time are particularly challenging to sell. Business partners or spouses that both play vital roles and want to leave a business together are difficult for buyer prospects to replace. Buyers like to know that the owner can take time away from the business without it impacting performance. Ideally, a company will have a committed non-owner management team that will embrace an incoming buyer and continue to run the business after its sold.

Low Working Capital Requirements

Not all construction companies require a large working capital investment. For example, companies that provide services directly to building owners rather than general contractors often have more control over when and how they get paid. Also, companies that have regular service contracts with clients often have shorter cash flow cycles.

Qualifier Flexibility

The buyer of a construction company that is in the same business will have the required licenses to operate. But many buyer prospects for small construction companies won’t and they will have to figure out how to run the business until they are able to qualify for the requisite licenses. A business in which the seller or one of the company employees is willing and able to serve as the license qualifier during the transition will make the business easier to sell.

Construction companies with these attributes will be more attractive to buyers.

Exit Strategies Group regularly appraises and brokers the sale of companies in the construction industry. For further information or if you own a California construction company that you’d like to sell or have appraised please contact Adam Wiskind at awiskind@exitstrategiesgroup.com or (707) 781-8744.

Inside the Mind of a CEO

Of course it’s in a CEO’s DNA to think big, challenge the status quo, set stretch goals and inspire teams to perform to their full potential. So, why did this recent CNN Business article on How power changes the CEO brain catch my attention?  Because my wife pointed it out to me

Seriously, according to this article, neuroscience researchers have found that those who feel powerful become:

  1. more goal-oriented and think more abstractly
  2. more optimistic about risky decisions
  3. less likely to see the world from others’ perspective

I would add, from 30+ years of working closely with founder-CEO’s as a business executive and valuation and M&A advisor, that most successful founder-CEO’s are also surprisingly humble and know how and when to throttle back that power. These traits help them assemble extraordinarily dedicated groups of managers, employees, clients and investors.  Helpful when it’s their time to sell!

CLICK HERE for more insight on how power affects the brain of a CEO.

Business Sale Planning – How CPA’s Can Help

Exiting right requires early planning and help from a team of advisors that is often formed by a company’s CPA.

In our work as M&A brokers, business owners often come to us emotionally ready to sell but unrealistic about the value and condition of their business. And frequently they are out of time or unwilling to re-position the business for a more lucrative sale.  Misconceptions, clouded judgement and lack of planning are all too common. Fortunately, a growing number of business owners are turning to their CPA’s for early exit planning assistance.

Potential CPA Exit Planning Services

  • 3-5 years before exit.  A top business CPA can help assemble a team of advisors that typically includes an M&A advisor, a personal financial planner, a business attorney, and perhaps an estate planning attorney. The CPA can recommend a business valuation or a sale readiness assessment by the M&A advisor and run tax calculations under likely deal terms. They can help the client select their best exit option, and if gaps exist, the team can assist with developing a comprehensive exit plan, which typically includes a business growth plan.
  • 2-3 years before exit.  Top business CPA’s can provide finance and accounting advice and services.  They can recommend that a client stop co-mingling personal expenses and adjust related-party transactions to market, help clean up the balance sheet, shore up accounting systems, staff, policies and practices, help organize all financial records, and create important management reports — all things that buyers and their CPA’s and lenders expect to be in place.
  • 1-2 years before exit.  The CPA can perform a sell-side Quality of Earnings (Q of E) analysis of historical reporting. Q of E often covers revenue recognition procedures including rebates, discounts, allowances, credits and collections, analysis of accruals and contingent liabilities, identification of non-recurring revenue and expenses, working capital level analysis, adequacy of capital expenditures to sustain performance and operational plans, changes in personnel and compensation, and stratification of revenue and gross margin by customer and product. Basically, whatever it take to understand and verify the underlying economics of a particular business.
  • During the sale process.  The CPA can provide tax / deal structuring advice, financial and tax due diligence support, and financing support for lender(s). They can also provide or recommend post-closing investment support.

What Business Owners Should Do

Early involvement in exit planning by a seasoned business CPA can help company leaders increase shareholder value, improve marketability, and ensure that owners are able to exit on their own terms and time frame.  When selecting a CPA for your business, ask about their experience and track record in helping other clients achieve more successful exits. Then choose accordingly.

Loui Cionci, ABV, CPA, is a senior M&A advisor and business appraiser with Exit Strategies Group.  For more information on exit planning services, help finding an experienced business CPA, or selling a California business, contact Louis at LCionci@exitstrategiesgroup.com or call 707-781-8582.