For many seller/business owners, the sale of their business represents the culmination of years of hard work, personal financial risk, and untold amounts of sacrifice and worry. To some, the sale will be the jumping-off point for other business and investment ventures. For others, it may well represent financial freedom for the remainder of his or her lifetime (and maybe the lifetimes of generations to come as well). Whatever the case, in most instances the seller/business owner will have one, and only one, opportunity to monetize this important asset. Failing to maximize the return on such an opportunity can be a considerable waste of time and opportunity, and is not one that can be easily offset through alternative means.
For all the above reasons, it is imperative that the seller/business owner avoid trying to navigate uncharted waters without capable assistance. More specifically, it is critical for the seller/business owner to assemble a team of professionals who are intimately familiar with the planning and negotiations related to selling or merging a closely-held business. Just as not all physicians are adequately trained and sufficiently experienced to perform brain or open-heart surgery, not all CPAs or lawyers are trained and experienced to adequately assist clients before, during, and after the sale of a business. While the stakes of a business sale may not rise to the level of being considered “life or death”, they do stand to have a significant impact on the lifestyle of seller/business owner going forward, and the choices and opportunities available to him or her (and/or future generations). Because the effects of a business sale are typically long-lasting and far-reaching, and because these opportunities are so very rare, it is important that the selection of professionals who will be advising the seller/business owner throughout this process be taken very seriously.
Once the seller/business owner has selected the right experienced professional advisors, it is imperative that he or she consult with them as early in advance of the sale as possible in order to maximize the planning opportunities available to the seller. The seller/business owner should avoid at all cost the temptation to wait until after sale negotiations have started, a letter of intent has been signed, or draft agreements have been exchanged, before consulting his or her advisors. By that point in time, not only will the seller/business owner have likely failed to implement most, if not all, of the critical planning tips discussed in Parts I thru IV of this blog series, but will have likely also missed out on some powerful tax planning or negotiation opportunities that may be of significant benefit to the seller/business owner, future generations or perhaps even charities.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the sale of a business is not just an event, but rather a process. This process starts years in advance of the actual closing, and requires continual interaction between the seller/business owner, CPA, attorney, and financial advisor. All are necessary to properly implement the preparatory steps we’ve discussed throughout this blog series.
We hope this blog series has proven to be informative and helpful. If we can be of further assistance to you or your business, please give us a call.