Confidentiality is a major concern in virtually every business. Quite often business owners become a little nervous when it comes time to sell their business; after all, business owners usually want to keep the fact that they are selling confidential. Yet, at the same time, business owners want to receive top-dollar for their businesses and sell that business as quickly as possible. In order to sell a business quickly and receive top-dollar, it is usually necessary to present the business to a range of prospects. The simple fact is that you can’t sell a business without letting prospective buyers know that it is for sale.
All of this adds up to one simple conclusion: you will need a confidentiality agreement when selling a business. Let’s look at a few of the key points your confidentiality agreement should cover.
- Type of Negotiations
First, your confidentiality agreement should cover whether or not the negotiations are open or secret and exactly what kind of information can be disclosed.
2. Duration of Agreement
Your confidentiality agreement must specify exactly how long the agreement will be in effect. In most circumstances, it is prudent for the seller to seek a permanently binding confidentiality agreement.
3. Special Considerations
There are other considerations as well, for example, does your business hold any patents? A buyer could learn about your inventions during a buying process so you’ll want to make sure that your confidentiality agreement protects your patent and copyright interests as well.
4. State Laws
Additionally, your confidentiality agreement must factor in different state laws if the other party is based in a state different than your own.
5. Recourse in the Case of Breach
Finally, your confidentiality agreement should outline what recourse you will have if the agreement is breached. Having a confidentiality agreement does not offer magical protection against a violation. However, a confidentiality agreement does ensure that prospective buyers understand the seriousness of the situation and that there are indeed severe consequences if the agreement is not followed.
It is important for all parties involved to realize that a confidentiality agreement is a legally binding agreement that is enforceable in a court a law. Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, a seller can share confidential information with a prospective buyer or business broker so that a business can be properly evaluated.
With so much on the line, it is vital that you have your confidentiality agreement drawn up by a legal professional. A good confidentiality agreement is an investment in your business. It is possible for a business owner to sell his or her business and do so with some degree of confidence that information shared with prospective buyers will not be disclosed.Read More
How the purchase of a business will be structured is something that must be dealt with early on in the selling process. The simple fact is that the financing of the sale of a business is too important to treat as an afterthought. The final structure of any sale will be the result of the negotiations between buyer and seller.
In order for the sale to be completed in a satisfactory manner, it is vital that the seller answers six key questions:
- What is your lowest “rock bottom” price? It is important for sellers to know what is the lowest price they are willing to accept before they begin negotiations. Far too often, sellers have not determined what price is their “lowest price” and this can literally cause negotiations to fall apart.
- What are the tax consequences of the sale? Just as sellers often don’t know what their lowest price is, it is also true that sellers often don’t think about the tax consequences of the sale.
- Interest rates are no small matter. It is important to determine what is an acceptable interest rate in the event of a seller-financed sale.
- Have unsecured creditors been paid off? Does the seller plan on paying for a portion of the closing costs?
- Will the buyer have to assume any long-term or secured debt?
- Will the business be able to service the debt and still give a return that is acceptable to a buyer?
Studies have indicated that there is a direct relationship between more favorable terms and a higher price. In particular, one study revealed that offering favorable terms could increase the total selling price by as much as 30 percent!
Business brokers are experts in what it takes to successfully buy and sell businesses, and this is exactly the kind of insight and information that they have at their disposal. Experienced brokers are able to use their knowledge of everything from current market conditions and financing strategies to the knowledge of previous sales and a given geographic region to help facilitate successful deals.
Usually, selling a business is one of the most important things that a business owner does in his or her professional lifetime. Business brokers understand this fact, and they understand the importance of making certain that the deal is structured correctly. The facts are that the way in which a sale is structured could mean the difference between success and failure.
Structuring a deal in such a way where it is the best possible deal for both the buyer and seller, helps to ensure that a deal is successfully concluded. Working with a business broker is one of the best way to ensure that a business will be sold.Read More
You may hear the word “goodwill” thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? When it comes to selling a business, the term refers to all the effort that the seller put into a business over the year. Goodwill can be thought of as the difference between the various tangible assets that a business has and the overall purchase price.
The M&A Dictionary defines goodwill in the following way, “An intangible fixed asset that is carried as an asset on the balance sheet, such as a recognizable company or product name or strong reputation. When one company pays more than the net book value for another, the former is typically paying for goodwill. Goodwill is often viewed as an approximation of the value of a company’s brand names, reputation, or long-term relationships that cannot otherwise be represented financially.”
Goodwill vs. Going-Concern
Now, it is important not to confuse goodwill value with “going-concern value,” as the two are definitely not the same. Going-concern value is typically defined by experts, as the fact that the business will continue to operate in a manner that is consistent with its intended purpose as opposed to failing or being liquidated. For most business owners, goodwill is seen as good service, products and reputation, all of which, of course, matters greatly.
Below is a list of some of the items that can be listed under the term “goodwill.” As you will notice, the list is surprisingly diverse.
42 Examples of Goodwill Items
- Phantom Assets
- Local Economy
- Industry Ratios
- Custom-Built Factory
- Loyal Customer Base
- Supplier List
- Delivery Systems
- Experienced Design Staff
- Growing Industry
- Recession Resistant Industry
- Low Employee Turnover
- Skilled Employees
- Trade Secrets
- Mailing List
- Royalty Agreements
- Technologically Advanced Equipment
- Advertising Campaigns
- Advertising Materials
- Computer Databases
- Computer Designs
- Credit Files
- Engineering Drawings
- Favorable Financing
- Government Programs
- Training Procedures
- Proprietary Designs
- Systems and Procedures
- Employee Manual
- Name Recognition
As you can tell, goodwill, as it pertains to a business, is not an easily defined term. It is also very important to keep in mind that what goodwill is and how it is represented on a company’s financial statements are two different things.
Here is an example: a company sells for $2 million dollars but has only $1 million in tangible assets. The balance of $1 million dollars was considered goodwill and goodwill can be amortized by the acquirer over a 15-year period. All of this was especially impactful on public companies as an acquisition could negatively impact earnings which, in turn, negatively impacted stock price, so public companies were often reluctant to acquire firms in which goodwill was a large part of the purchase price. On the flip side of the coin, purchasers of non-public firms received a tax break due to amortization.
The Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) created new rules and standards pertaining to goodwill and those rules and standards were implemented on July 1, 2001. Upon the implementation of these rules and standards, goodwill may not have to be written off, unless the goodwill is carried at a value that is in excess of its real value. Now, the standards require companies to have intangible assets, which include goodwill, valued by an outside expert on an annual basis. These new rules work to define the difference between goodwill and other intangible assets as well as how they are to be treated in terms of accounting and tax reporting.
Before you buy a business or put a business up for sale, it is a good idea to talk to the professionals. The bottom line is that goodwill can still represent all the hard work a seller put into a business; however, that hard work must be accounted for differently than in years past and with more detail.Read More
Buying a business requires a good deal of capital or lender resources. The bottom line is that a large percentage of buyers don’t have the necessary capital or lender resources to pay cash and that is where seller financing comes into play. The fact is that seller financing is quite common. In this article, we will take a deeper look at some of the key points to remember.
Is Seller Financing a Good Idea?
Many buyers feel that a seller’s reluctance to provide seller financing is a “red flag.” The notion is that if a business is truly as good as the seller claims it to be, then providing financing shouldn’t be a “scary” proposition. The truth is that this notion does carry some weight in reality. The primary reason that many sellers are reluctant to provide seller financing is that they are concerned that the buyer will be unsuccessful. This, of course, means that if the buyer fails to make payments, that the seller could be forced to take the business back or even forfeit the balance of the note.
However, it is important for sellers to look at the facts. Sellers who sell for all cash receive approximately 70% of the asking price; however, sellers receive approximately 86% of the asking price when they offer terms!
Seller Financing has a Range of Benefits
Here are a few of the most important benefits associated with seller financing: the seller receives a considerably higher price, sellers can get a much higher interest rate from a buyer than they can receive from a financial institution, the interest on a seller-financed deal will add significantly to the actual selling price, there are tax benefits to seller financing versus an all-cash sale and, finally, financing the sale serves as a vote of confidence in the buyer.
Clearly there are no guarantees that the buyer will be successful in operating the business. Yet, it is key that sellers remember that in most situations the buyers are putting a large percentage of their personal wealth into the purchase of the business. In other words, in most situations, the buyer is heavily invested even if financing is involved.
Business brokers excel in helping buyers and sellers discover creative ways to finance the sale of a business. Your broker can recommend a range of payment options and plans that can, in the end, often make the difference between a successful sale and failure.Read More
We’ve outlined below a few unexpected aspects of the business sale process that can pop up. Sometimes they severely impact the turnaround time of a sale. But if you can understand these potential issues better, you will be better prepared to try to circumvent them.
1. Do You Have Time on Your Side?
It’s helpful to use an intermediary who will assist with the filtering of prospects vs. “suspects.” However, the inclusion of yet another party, in addition to both the business seller and potential buyers, increases the amount of time required to navigate the process.
Sellers are typically unaware of the time and documentation needed to compile the required Offering Memorandum. Once completed, the seller must provide both the intermediary and potential buyer more time to review and propose meetings and pricing. In the interim, owners are faced with the challenge of keeping their business thriving.
2. Trying to Do Too Much
It’s not surprising when a company owner is also its founder that individual is typically used to making all of the decisions. That’s why business owners in the midst of selling will soon find themselves challenged with the desire to fully be a part of both the selling process and the running of the business.
Delegation to someone else, such as the Sales Manager, can be truly invaluable. Think of your top people as extremely valuable resources. They may have first-hand knowledge regarding additional concerns such as competition and potentially interested acquirers. Bringing in trusted employees to be part of the sales process can be tremendously beneficial.
3. Delays Due to Stockholders
When mid-sized, privately held companies are supported by minority stockholders, these individuals must be included in the selling process—however small their share may be. The business owner will need to firstly obtain their approval to sell by using the sale price and terms as influencers. Of course, issues such as competing interests, pricing disagreements, and even inter-family concerns may cause conflict and further delay the process.
4. Money Issues
Once sellers decide upon a price that they would like to see, it is sometimes difficult for them to accept or even consider anything less. After all, a business owner likely created the company and may have a strong emotional attachment.
Another factor that often interferes with a successful sale occurs when sellers instantly turn down offers because they don’t meet with their desired asking price.
That’s when the intermediary can often come in to salvage the deal. A business broker often serves as a negotiator. He or she can work out a deal that is structured in a manner that works for both sides.Read More