A business sale is a complicated process with preparations that begin years before the owner's actual exit from the company.
If you've stayed on top of the process, you will have performed a variety of advance exit planning strategies to shore up your brand and your company's value in the marketplace.
But have you given any thought to how buyers will locate your company in the business-for-sale marketplace? Sure, you could slap a "for sale" sign on your building, buy a listing in the local classifieds, and hope for the best. If you don't care about selling to the most qualified buyers, give it a shot.
But if you would rather improve the chances of getting top dollar for your company, you'll need to step up your efforts and make your company visible to business brokers and investment bankers – the people who represent the most qualified business buyers. Brokers and bankers rely on business listing services to identify potential acquisition targets for their clients. If your company is visible and meets their criteria, you won't have to do anything – buyers will approach you whether your company is listed or not.
To ensure total visibility, you'll need to lay the groundwork by confirming that company databases contain accurate information. Here's how it's done . . .
- Get listed. Your first step is to make sure you're already listed with companies like Experian, Axciom, D&B, and Hoover's. If you aren't in their database, contact each company directly and ask to be included in their listings.
- Verify contact information. Database listings have a tendency to become quickly outdated. The worst case scenario is that an acquirer is interested in learning more about your business, but can't get find you because your vital information is outdated. Although verifying contact information only takes a few minutes of your time, you'll sleep better knowing that acquirers have the information they need to get in touch with you.
- Validate SIC codes. SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes are four-digit codes issued by the government to categorize businesses. Databases use these codes to create sub-lists of acquisition targets, so you'll want to evaluate the accuracy of your SIC code in every database.
- Suggest searchable descriptions. Database listings often include a brief description of the company and its primary business activities. You can suggest keyword-rich descriptions to database providers as a way to help your company rise to the top of target searches.