As a business owner, you should be planning for the sale of your business well in advance. Starting the planning process 1-3 years in advance not only offers you the benefit of being prepared for when the time is right, but it also gives you enough time to make lasting improvements to your business that will increase its value. Every improvement that you make will generate momentum and help cement your business as an industry leader. By making these improvements you will create a more profitable business that will have a higher value when the time comes to sell.

Adding value to your business

The first step you should take is analyzing what your company’s core purpose is. Let’s say you are a coffee shop: while your business makes money by selling coffee and baked goods, and you may have good service and low prices, the value that your customers care most about might be the ability to quickly get a coffee on their morning commute. Once you have a good grasp of the value you offer to your customers, you should then examine ways in which you can enhance this value. In the case of the coffee shop, this might mean making improvements to your kitchen layout to improve order times, adding more registers to serve customers, having fresh coffee ready at all times, etc. Making improvements to your business that enhance the value your customers receive will lead to better financial success in your business, bringing you a better return when the time comes to sell.

Another important area of improvement to consider is your company’s marketing. The image that customers and other stakeholders have of your business can be a driving force in creating business value. Many of the most successful businesses in history got to where they were by having a strong brand that aligned with their core business values and the values of their customers, and by effectively communicating this brand. Early on in your exit planning, you should begin analyzing your company’s image. In order to succeed, your corporate image must align with your business values and the values of your customers. Having a consistent brand, being reliable, and offering high quality products/services will all help you dominate your market niche, and will add value to your business.

So how can you communicate your business’s image as a marketplace leader?

One way to achieve this is through prospect/client education. It is important that your customers and prospects  learn about your business in the best possible way, from you! This means offering articles, blogs, books, and other informative media that your customers and prospects can consume. Having a strong online presence is especially important as it will help you educate your customers on the value that your business offers. Offering useful and meaningful content will help you grow your customer relationships and improve your business image.

Another way to communicate the image of your business is through peer or client recognition. One of the best ways to build trust between you and your customers is by communicating what others thing of your business. For instance, publishing client reviews and success stories is an easy way to offer a third-party view of how your business is perceived. Also, make sure to publish any awards or accolades that the business receives as they also help to show your customers that you are a marketplace leader.

By planning for your exit early in advance, you will have the necessary time to make improvements to your business. These improvements will lead to a higher return on your investment when the time comes to sell. As a business owner, you have been working tirelessly to grow your business and that should not stop when you begin planning for your exit.

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