Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Is a Business Exit Consultant Worth the Time & Money?

“Is the money, time and distraction of an Exit Planning Consultant really necessary? And does it really add any value at the end of the day?” 

Aaron Toresen, Managing Director, LINK(NZ) poses those questions and  answers them in his LINK Business email Newsletter 14 May 2013.  

In answer, he baldly claims: 

“The truthful answer is only occasionally. More often than not the whole "Exit Planning" nonsense is no more than fee generation by well meaning but ultimately misguided advisers.” 

“Almost every business consultant, coach, or mentor has screeds of information, manuals and guides that they will happily take a business owner through, on an hourly rate, to prepare them for the sale of their business. The more complex and esoteric the adviser can make the process, the better. Often these advisers have never sold a business or indeed owned one, but nevertheless confidently march their clients through various business plans, strategic plans, checklists and milestones . . . . . .”

It turns out these claims are mainly a straw man for then claiming that his firm can prepare a business for sale in within 2 or 3 months.

What he doesn't say is whether those businesses sold for their full value to the exiting owner. The truth is, very probably not. 90% of businesses sell for less than half what they’re worth to the exiting owner. 

A broker’s main interest is typically efficiency of effort to achieve increased turnover, not selling price. Most brokers want you to sell within four months for whatever the business will fetch. They want you to be grateful that they found you someone who's willing to pay to take your place in the hamster wheel.  90% of the time that’s what business owners do. Brokers typically depend on it. 

However, he is right about most business consultants, coaches and mentors. That’s why, if you really do want to sell for an earnings multiple of 4-6 you need to be particular about your choice of help (and your broker). 

You’ll need to establish a profitable growth curve and extract yourself from the centre of operations. Unless you've already achieved that, it’ll be impossible to achieve in 2 or 3 months, even with Aaron Toreson's personal help.  

The project will take at least two years with business-savvy, trustworthy people helping you lead it. They’ll be educated, experienced business owners with wisdom, passion and expertise to share. They'll quickly, deeply understand you and your business, empathise with your situation and work comfortably within the messy reality of your business.  

The project isn't so much about planning as it is about acting strategically;  about changing the way your business is organised and operated; so that you have time to work on it instead of only in it. 

By the time you complete the project you may have changed your mind about selling because the business will be a profitable pleasure to own. 

So don't sell yourself short. You and the nation need you to realise the full value in your business and for it to continue to flourish for it's new owner. 

Take care in selecting your strategic change support and your broker. 


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