Tag Archives: twin cities area

How Buyers Evaluate Risk

When it comes to purchasing a business, evaluating risk on every front is paramount. This risk assessment, known as due diligence, can take anywhere from 30-90 days or more and is comprised of assessments on multiple fronts. 

Areas to assess

Operations: Investigate answers to the following questions:

  • What is the growth trajectory of this company? 
  • Is the revenue sustainable? 
  • What is the company’s product image and how does it line up with competitors’ product images? 

IT: Evaluate security vulnerabilities and assess the ownership and setup of any custom software. Also, take an inventory of all IT devices among the company’s employees.  

Legal: Hire a lawyer to review all organizational documents, contracts, leases, past litigation, etc. for the purpose of addressing possible legal liabilities. 

Accounting: Conduct an assessment of the seller’s financial statements to help predict the company’s future earnings.

Environmental: Conduct an assessment of all business sites to determine any possible environmental contamination and litigation risks. 

Documents to evaluate

During the due diligence process, you’ll want to explore all the documents you can get your hands on in order to flush out all possible risks. These documents may include but are certainly not limited to licenses and permits, information on any past and current litigation, articles of incorporation, insurance coverage and information concerning any recent claims, employee contract details, information on company assets, tax records and financial statements. 

Take your time with this process. It’s not possible to be too thorough. If, after you’ve evaluated the risks, you determine you’re ready to move forward, it’s time to draft and sign a formal agreement. Should you dredge up current or potential risks that you’re not willing to assume, you can part ways with the seller, thankful you did your due diligence and avoided an unhealthy business transaction.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a business, we would be happy to connect with you. We can be reached at 612.331.8392 or by email at info@oibmn.com.

 

How to Determine what your Business is Worth

With the amount of privately held businesses, there should be an easy way to determine the worth of a privately held business. If you are looking for the “fair market value” of a public business, you would be able to find it’s valuation on the stock market. That is not the case for private businesses.

Financial statements and tax returns are not enough to base your businesses value on. Prices paid for similar businesses are often times hard to find as the sales agreements are usually kept private. And public company valuations may provide some context, but are hard to translate even when you take into account the difference in size, stability, liquidity, and a number of other factors.

There are two valuation methods you could look into. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method tries to estimate the future cash flows and use that to determine the current value. The EBITDA valuation method takes into account the EBITDA, or Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization, multiple to come up with the current value. The issue with these methods is that they are both just estimates, and your estimates may differ from your buyers. They also do not take into account additional factors that could affect an offer, like cash versus earn-outs, working capital, or warranties, to name a few.

The most reliable indicator of the value of a business comes by finding out what people will pay for your business. This means taking into consideration multiple offers and juggling them until you can come to an agreement with a buyer. Buyers will decide what to pay based on what they believe your company will make them. That means you may have to prepare to represent your business in the best possible way with well-presented documentation, an investment thesis, and knowledge on how to counter price-chipping, a common strategy buyers use to reduce the price based on identifying possible issues with your business.

At the end of the day, evaluating a business is a complex process. Even if you follow all the guidelines and advice, there are probably assets or issues that you are going to miss.

That is why the easiest course of action is to call in a professional, like Opportunities in Business, all of this is first and then with the possibility of a good business the chance to take it to a physical office, with an office space rentals you can have your business booming fast. With our experience, specialized knowledge, and tools, we will give you the most accurate estimate of your business’s worth and help you find the buyers you need.

Case Study: A Story of Nails, Plastics and Seizing Opportunities

The Motivation

In the early 80’s, Frank was in his middle 30’s and broke, out of work and trying to support his young family. Every day he would scour the classifieds looking for work that would help him put food on the table.

The Opportunity

One day Frank noticed that an insurance company was running an ad selling nails. These nails had been onboard a railcar that derailed and were purchased by the insurance company as part of the claim.

The Materials

Nails: On a hunch, Frank called the insurance company and offered to sell the nails for them for a 10% profit…and the insurance company agreed. For the next six hours, Frank called everyone he could think of that might want a deal on nails including every construction company in the Twin Cities area. By the end of the day he sold the nails, generated a $2000 profit and had enough money to buy groceries for his family.

Plastics: With no other job prospects in sight, Frank continued to offer to sell damaged goods, excess inventory and scrap materials from manufacturing companies as a way to financially survive. He began to focus on scrap – specifically plastic scrap from manufacturing companies. He made enough money to buy a used van and began picking up scrap for a fee and disposing of it.

Then he had an idea. What if he rented a warehouse and used that space to pulverize plastic scrap into pellets, bag it and sell it back to the manufacturing companies to reuse?

That is exactly what he did and within a few years he was making a good living as the owner/operator of a plastics recycling company.

Giving Back

When things were at their best, Frank decided to sell his business and that’s where OIB entered the picture. We sold the business for a substantial profit to two corporate refugees. I asked Frank at closing why he decided to sell when he did. He said that he was still young, business was booming and he would never forget the desperation he felt before things turned around for him. Once he got to the point where he had enough money to live on, he wanted to dedicate his life to helping people who were less fortunate.

Ensuring Business Survival When Divorce Hits

Launching a business has a lot in common with getting married. Both require a leap of faith, grounded in deep self reflection coupled with open-eyed due diligence.

And neither marriage nor business has a guarantee of success.

When the business is solid but the marriage is crumbling, how can you make sure the business will emerge relatively unscathed from the process?

There are many factors at play, so each couple will have to forge their own path. Here are some tips.

Enter Marriage and Business with an Exit Strategy

When launching a business or diving into marriage, an exit strategy is a good idea. While bringing up a prenuptial agreement may feel awkward, the reality is about half of marriages end in divorce, so having a thoughtful, measured conversation about the possibility of divorce is an essential step in the marriage journey. If one party already owns a business, that business needs to be discussed in detail—both how the couple will deal with it in marriage, and in potential divorce. If you feel resistant to this conversation, remember that the fall-out won’t just affect you and your spouse: it will impact employees, partners and clients.

Prenuptial Agreements Smooth the Transition

It’s important that both parties have independent legal representation when constructing a prenup. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the agreement being dismissed in court. A judge can also dismiss the agreement if she believes a party hasn’t been honest and transparent when making it.

A parallel activity is the establishment of a buy/sell agreement, which establishes guidelines governing the departure of any co-owner from the business.

Having had that conversation and put both legal and informal agreements in place will make it much easier to manage emotions should you decide to split up.

Post-Divorce Options: One Spouse Keeps the Business

This is the most common option. It’s likely to take place when one spouse has a significantly greater interest and history with the business. Typically, the invested spouse buys out the other spouse’s interest. A professional appraisal establishes the value. Generally this method is tax-efficient: it’s considered a transfer of property incident to divorce, and therefore usually not taxable.

Other strategies include a settlement note to be paid off over time, or the company can buy back the departing spouse’s shares.

Post-Divorce Options: Both Spouses Keep the Business

When divorce is especially amicable, and both parties are equally committed to the business, they may continue to be partners in business if not in married life. Obviously it’s not for everyone, but it can be done. When successful, it is an enriching exploration of a new phase of relationship.

Post-Divorce Options: Both Spouses Sell the Business

The couple can sell the enterprise and split the proceeds. However, this may take time and undesirably lengthen the proceedings.

Professional Help to Navigate Divorce

It’s essential that couples enlist empathetic, experienced and qualified help as they navigate their transition. Find a divorce lawyer who is also versed in business issues. Make sure to get accurate, conclusive tax advice about the ramifications of transferring the business.

Consider exploring collaborative divorce with an experienced attorney. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which means that the lawyers agree that if a settlement is not reached, they will retreat from the process and not pursue litigation. This is a huge motivator for attorneys to seek a peaceful, constructive resolution.

Use a mediation specialist to discuss and pursue a mutually agreeable resolution, greatly enhancing the prospect of a peaceful parting of ways.

The bottom line: advance planning will help keep emotions in check and contribute to a more amicable divorce as well as a smoother business transition.

Opportunity Zones Program

It’s been over a year since Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Let’s take a look at Opportunity Zones, a new community investment incentive and tool launched by the act.

The goal: encouraging long-term investments in low-income rural and urban communities nationwide.

The Opportunity Zones program offers a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds. It offers some tax breaks parallel to the popular 1031capital gains exchange, but with more restrictions. Do the benefits make it a good trade-off?

Tax Incentives Offered

The Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a bipartisan public policy organization, has useful online resources for investors wanting to learn more. They are not necessarily entirely objective, however, having helped develop this legislation.

Briefly, here three tax incentives offered by the program, as expressed by the EIG:

  • A temporary deferral of inclusion in taxable income for capital gains reinvested into an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is disposed of or December 31, 2026
  • A step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis is increased by 10% if the investment in the Opportunity Fund is held by the taxpayer for at least 5 years and by an additional 5% if held for at least 7 years, thereby excluding up to 15% of the original gain from taxation
  • A permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in an Opportunity Fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years. This exclusion only applies to gains accrued after an investment in an Opportunity Fund

On their fact sheet, EIG offers a useful side-by-side comparison of investment returns in a standard portfolio versus an Opportunity Fund, based on 5, 7 and 10 year durations.

While the dual potentials of the program—benefiting struggling neighborhoods while offering tax deferral—are attractive, some details of the program are leaving investors wary.

Some Rules Remain Unclear

On Valentine’s Day 2019, the IRS held a 5-hour-long hearing on the Opportunity Zones, at which 150 people were turned away. Clearly, investors are curious, but the end date of 2026 represents a fairly short investment window, and some rules remain unclear.

Forbes’ February 22 headline “Opportunity Zones – Look Great For Everybody Except Investors” is a sobering example of the possible limitations of the program. Author Peter J. Reilly, a self-described “cynical bastard,” advises investors “forget about it. It really doesn’t make much sense at all.” However, he acknowledges potential upsides for developers and property owners.

With nearly 8,700 designated Opportunity Zones in the US, the program is certainly worth exploring. Due diligence is a must, however, for a program this young whose rules are still being solidified.

How to Exit Your Business Positively & Profitably

The time will come for everyone: one way or another, you’ll be ready to exit your business.
After devoting years, possibly decades, of blood, sweat and tears into building your company, you might be counting on a payoff. You might be depending on selling your business to fund your retirement. But what if you can’t sell?

The irony is that the more personally involved you are in your business, the harder it is to transfer operations to someone else. To maximize your company’s appeal, build a business that can run without you.

Running a business on autopilot demands systems, discipline and consistency, no matter what type, right now the best options go with the small business definition, which has the same running system, and maybe more profitable chances depending in the marketing movement you use. Those values are crucial to business success, and they’re often central features of franchise operations.

Consider the statistics on business survival. 80-90% of independent businesses fail in five years, whereas 80-90% of franchises are successful five years in.

What Do Franchises Have in Common?

They’ve had tremendous opportunity to make a lot mistakes and learn from them. If 100 franchise restaurants are pursuing improvement for five years, that’s 500 combined years of experience. Their strength is the combined experience and wisdom of legions of owners and managers, all wrapped up in a network which has honed the art of learning from trial and error, and perfected analyzing and communicating the results.

They harness the power of consistency. They have highly developed systems and processes ranging from employee handbooks to accounting templates. These enable them to operate profitably and reliably without the constant presence of ownership.

If you plan on exiting your business someday, it’s up to you to multiply its value by building it to operate profitably without your day-to-day engagement. By escaping the routine grind, you’ll free up time and energy to devote to concrete improvements with the best polished concrete in Perth. At the same time, you’ll build a business which is exponentially more attractive to buyers.

Lessons from the Franchise Arena

Franchises provide buyers with a handbook for success.

Your handbook for success has to include documented and repeatable systems for every element of your company, from sales and marketing to bookkeeping to inventory to shipping. Every task has to be systemized, every element has to be documented so employees can be trained accordingly. SOPs (Standard Operation Procedures) must clearly explain tasks, and employee manuals must clearly express responsibilities. Without these, consistent training is impossible.

Management must also conform to consistent, repeatable, trainable responsibilities and routines.

When these systems are successfully established, they’re nearly guaranteed to boost profits and increase efficiency. By documenting your strategies and procedures, you’ll reassure potential buyers that your success can be replicated.

Even if you don’t anticipate trying to sell for a few decades, these efforts will pay dividends.
When the owner is relieved of daily responsibilities and can focus on big-picture, process-oriented improvements, the possibility for real growth blossoms. Additionally, unexpected circumstances can confront any of us at any time, and having the option to sell your business keeps you flexible. Lastly, by the time many owners are ready to sell, they’re often too burned out to transform their business, so they’re forced to accept a lowball offer, or to shut their doors entirely.

Even if you’re convinced your business is one-of-a-kind, embracing a franchise mentality will boost its value and make your exit a financial success.

The Psychology of Selling a Business

Deciding to sell a business is no small beans. It’s a decision a business owner labors over for months or even years before finally pursuing. Whether the owner built the company from the ground up or purchased it from another owner and grew and nurtured it over the years, there are a whole gamut of emotions that come into play. After all, you don’t pour blood, sweat and tears into something and persist through perilous times without becoming emotionally attached to that which you fought so hard for, right? These emotions come into play both in the motivation behind the sale of a business as well as throughout the process. It’s vitally important to anticipate varying emotions while at the same time remaining objective and focused to ensure the best outcome.

Psychology behind the sale

Whether an owner recognizes it or not, there are three primary factors that drive the sale of a business: timing, health and divorce.

Timing: You’ve heard the saying, “Quit while you’re ahead.” Well, that’s precisely what many owners do. Afraid they can’t surpass their best year ever, they decide to sell and end strong.

Health: As a human on this planet, each one of us is vulnerable to personal tragedy. If we  stressed-out, buy maeng da kratom, but if there is something serious, you should really change your life. Whether it’s the sickness or death of a spouse, family member, friend or co-worker, there are numerous earth-shattering moments that bring close the reality that life is indeed short. It’s often out of this awakening that business owners decide to sell and pursue other dreams or endeavors.

Divorce: Whether it’s motivated by the determination of a divorce decree or from a desire to start fresh, divorce is a major factor in the decision to sell a business.

Psychology throughout the sale process

According to a 2013 article in the Scientific American, titled “Negative Emotions are Key to Well-Being,” the author, Tori Rodriguez, states that:

In fact, anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. “Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” says psychologist Jonathan M. Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Allowing yourself to feel your emotions and to ride the waves they come in on is an important key to mental health and contentment and will serve you well long after your business has changed hands. Be it sadness, anger or a sense of loss, remind yourself that these feelings are all a part of saying goodbye to something you truly cared about. The challenge is maintaining objectivity in your decision-making in the midst of these feelings. Various professionals (accountants, attorneys, brokers) that assist you throughout this process will help you stay focused.

Having an exit strategy in place prior to the sale of your business will also help you to remain objective and keep your emotions in check. Will you stay on as a consultant and help the next owner through his or her transition or will you make a clean break and pursue another business endeavor altogether? Although a business sale can seem lengthy and all-consuming, nothing breeds anxiety like waking up one day and realizing you don’t have a plan. Spend some time discussing your post-sale plan with your spouse, a trusted friend or a professional you respect. Then move forward confidently into the next chapter of your big and beautiful life.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a business, we would be happy to connect with you. We can be reached at 612.331.8392 or by email at info@oibmn.com.

Case Study: Real Estate Services

The Opportunity

In the mid 1980’s, an enterprising young farmer couple saw a need and capitalized on it. One of the many responsibilities on real estate agents’ plates is signage: putting signs in yards for listings and removing them after closings. This young couple started marketing this signage service for a fee and their business took off. Real estate agents were delighted to financially compensate this couple in order to offload this tedious task.

Sale #1

In a short span of time, their business was booming to the point where it was interfering with farming so this couple contacted Opportunities in Business about selling their startup. They sold the business to another farmer who went on to grow it by adding more realtor-oriented services such as storing signage, painting sign posts etc.

Sale #2

After a few years, this farmer and second owner decided to sell the business and contacted Opportunities in Business. With the help of OIB, he sold the business for 4x the original sale price. Realizing his passion for buying and selling businesses, the seller then joined the OIB team as an agent.

Sale #3

A few years after acquiring the business, this third owner was diagnosed with a serious medical condition and was no longer able to maintain it. He reached out to OIB and together we sold it for double what he bought it for.

Opportunities in Business had the privilege of selling this business a fourth time – this time for over 10x the original sales price. By this time, the business enjoyed over 65% of the market share statewide.

This is just one of many real life examples of how Opportunities in Business harnesses our experience in real estate to the tremendous benefit of each of our clients. GTA Real Estate Pros created a fast and free process so you can find the best fit quickly.

Click on the following and contact Chamberlain Real Estate Group to find the house of your dream.

For a dream home in Thailand, you can Buy a Luxury property in Hua Hin that suits your budget.

Case Study: Legal Subscription Service

While Opportunities in Business usually just helps people sell businesses, we often tell the story of when we helped create one. It happened when Bob Griesgraber and Tom Green, owners of OIB, learned of a change taking place at the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Court Provides Documents to Law Firms

It was the early 1980’s, before the digital revolution, and like many enterprises the court system generated vast quantities of documents, documents that are now getting destroyed with the In Confidence document destruction Melbourne. Some of these papers documented important changes in the law at local, state, and federal levels each year.

Historically, the Minnesota Supreme Court administered this information. A team of three employees were in charge of organizing these documents, which they compiled in three-ring binders. The court itself relied on these records, and attorneys and law firms also needed to stay up-to-date on these changes in the law. When legal professionals needed access to the information, they requested copies and paid a fee for the service.

Court Divests from Business

Eventually, the court concluded it was inappropriate for the courts to engage in this for-profit activity, and proposed that the enterprise no longer continue under the auspices of the court.

Griesgraber and Green got wind of this effort to privatize this vital service, and recognized the value of it. Here was an existing system satisfying an existing need for an existing market.

Meanwhile, they knew of someone seeking a new business to run. A local accountant (full disclosure: the accountant for Opportunities in Business) had an underutilized office and an underutilized wife. The wife had the skill set to manage such a business, and they had asked OIB to be on the lookout for a business which would be a good fit. Private Sector Umbrella company provides such service at an expert level.

Family Buys and Expands Business

The wife-and-husband team bought the “business” for less than $50,000. They improved the systems by refining the collection and codifying the information, assembling it into a handbook for lawyers. Annual subscriptions were offered to the legal community, which responded positively: within a short time most law firms in Minnesota subscribed. Then they expanded to other states.

OIB Helps Family Sell, Very Profitably

Within seven years they had grown to 13 states. Ready to downsize their stake in the business, they asked OIB to sell about 80% of the states’ copyrights interests. OIB found qualified buyers and made the deal, netting well over a million dollars. They also sold the accounting practice.

With OIB’s help, this talented team got into a fledgling business for a relatively small investment. In seven short years, they boosted the business value by a factor of over 20 times. When they were ready to step back from their project, OIB was on the job again, helping them capitalize on their investment.

Why CEOs Must Take a Granular Approach to Overseeing Sales

CEOs have broad, big-picture responsibilities. While responsibilities will vary from firm to firm, CEOs typically rely on a number of division heads to manage the details while they take a wide, long-term view.

Why A Granular Approach to Sales is Important

While being a good manager and delegator is key, there’s a valid argument that CEOs need to take a more granular view of sales. McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, concludes that “CEOs who prioritize sales management outstrip their peers by as much as 80% in terms of revenue and profitability.”

80% — that’s quite a margin. What fuels this success?

Predict Revenue More Accurately

A CEO who takes a hands-on interest in monitoring the sales pipeline will be better positioned to predict revenue more accurately, and more effective at taking action to improve sales outcomes or revise expectations. Sustainable growth depends on both of these factors. Further, having firm numbers to reflect sales functions is crucial to attracting interest from venture capital.

What Sales Number Does a CEO Need to Track?

Every leader needs to resist falling down the rabbit hole of micro-managing, so what sales numbers does a CEO need to closely track?

Michael Sala, managing director at private equity firm LLR Partners, identified four sales pipeline metrics CEOs should monitor in a recent article.

His advice: Know the answer to these four questions:

  • What’s our average deal size?
  • What’s our average sales cycle?
  • What’s our conversion rate?
  • How many leads do we need in the sales pipeline?

What’s our average deal size?

Calculate the average deal size of your closed won deals over the last 12 months. Let’s say the average deal size is $50,000 and you intend to hit $2 million ACV. In July, the sales team would have to close 40 deals to hit the target.

What’s our average sales cycle?

Asses the time it takes to move from creating a qualified sales prospect to actually closing the deal. Check out data from your CRM and calculate the average from the last 12 months. Apply that number to what’s actually in your sales pipeline to anticipate what is likely to close in the year.

What’s our conversion rate?

Once again, rely on your CRM to assess your past conversion rate. If your rate is 10% and you want to close 100 deals, you need 1,000 opportunities in the pipeline.

How many leads do we need in the sales pipeline?

This one’s a bit trickier, because it varies across different lead-generation channels. Client referrals might have a high conversion rate, while leads generated by automated emails might be a fraction of the rate. So apply the conversion rates channel by channel—you ARE tracking how you got your leads, right?—to calculate how many leads you need to get the conversions you require.

Revenue Forecasts Based on Concrete Data

By having a handle on these metrics, you demonstrate to potential investors and buyers that your revenue forecasts are based on facts and past performance, not wishful thinking. Keep an eye on these figures, and you’ll know when the pipeline isn’t supporting projections, at which point you can step in to correct the situation.

When buyers have confidence your revenue is predictable, that translates into confidence in your business. When CEOs can state specific figures backed up by fact, they’re in a much stronger position than if they offer general ball-park figures.

Even if you’re not focused on attracting investors, it’s still a valuable strategy for scaling up your business. If you’ve got questions about buying or selling your business or how a granular approach to sales can help increase your business valuation, please give us a call!