After 12 years running my e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse, I announced last week that I sold my business. And what a wild ride it was. To say I learned a few things would be the understatement of the year. So if you’ve got a business and your goal is to sell it one day, keep these five things in mind as you navigate through the windy roads.
1. Maintain a Laser-Like Focus.
No matter what you think, the process of selling your company will be all consuming. There will most likely be travel (depending on where your potential buyer is located), lots of meetings, nights and weekends involved. And, it won't be just you; many key members of your team will need to be involved so it’s important to maintain a high level of focus on the day-to-day operations and revenue of your company. Take your eyes off the prize, and sales could plummet and ruin your chances of sealing the deal. Luckily this didn’t happen to us!
2. Don’t Make Decisions in a Silo.
You’ve probably reached this point in your career and business by making good choices and decisions based on facts, so this is no time to get emotional--though it can be tempting to get personally attached to certain things. This is the time to draw on the experience and advice of your board of directors and any other trusted advisers you have. Your board should consist of experienced members from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise so they can provide a broad perspective on many issues and keep you focused and level-headed.
3. Involve Employees.
Like in No. 2, you can’t single-handedly sell your company. You’re going to need to involve various members of your team to make it successful. My entire executive team was crucial to the closing of our deal, as were some other key team members from around the company. You’ll also want to make sure that these key players stay on during the transition period of the sale and beyond to ensure no disruptions in your day-to-day operations and service.
4. Be an Open Book.
Be completely aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of your company and be prepared to be totally honest about them with your potential buyer. Believe me, it will all come out in the due diligence process so there’s no point in trying to hide something or bury it under the rug. If you are upfront, honest and transparent, you have the best opportunity to close the deal in an efficient and confident manner.
5. Have a Plan.
If you’re planning on selling, you need to have a personal plan for yourself after the sale goes through because sometimes it happens fast. My deal closed in just 45 days! Will you stay on and transition the company? If so, for how long? Or will you exit stage left and go on to your next chapter? Being thoughtful about this in advance can help you communicate your plans to your employees, the press and others who have a vested interest.
Do you have other tips that you’ve learned from selling your company? I’d love to hear them in the comments.