If you're considering selling your business, ask yourself a few questions before holding any meetings. Are your books in order? Can it run profitably without you? Do you have enough traction to negotiate the right number?

Because even if you're profitable now, there's always a way to improve. Twelve experienced founders from YEC offer their best advice for increasing the value of a business before making a sale, so you get the best deal possible today--and ensure future success.

1. Remove yourself from the equation.

Too many businesses are built, run and maintained on a daily basis by the founder/owner. If your company relies on you, or the loss of the founder will significantly impact the growth rate of your business over the short or medium term, that will be reflected in the valuation of your business from an acquirer's perspective.--Joshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets

2. Keep clean books.

Keeping clean books will greatly increase the value of your company. You might get to the due diligence phase and even have an offer on the table, but no one is going to buy a company whose value can't be accurately tracked. Keep accurate books and have them be a transparent, accurate representation of your company and all the hard work you've put in.--Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

3. Safeguard your intellectual property.

If technology is your key differentiator, make sure you lock yours down. That means having clear documentation as to ownership, registering your IP, and creating and implementing a strategy for how you'll defend it.--David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

4. Systemize and automate it.

The best businesses are the businesses that the owner doesn't have to run. I'd recommend focusing on documenting, systemizing and creating processes and procedures for every part of the business. Having operations manuals for the processes in the business gives the new owner a manual for operating, growing and scaling.--Chris Brisson, Call Loop

5. Work in transition time.

You can add six months or more of your time to transition the deal. Most likely the buyer will not know your processes or how you have streamlined it. Add your own time to the deal and the value of the purchase will skyrocket.--Kevin Henrikson, Acompli (now Outlook iOS/Android @ Microsoft)

6. Position yourself as a technology company.

When selling a business, acquirers will try to value your business by looking at the multiples of similar businesses, such as multiples of your revenue, profit or users. Certain kinds of companies generally get lower multiples (brick and mortar or service businesses) while others get much higher multiples (technology or SaaS). If you can, convince buyers that you're more technology than service.--Mattan Griffel, One Month

7. Drive more revenue.

Before selling your business, it is important to drive as much revenue as you can. You want your business to be worth its highest potential possible before handing it off.--Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

8. Reduce overhead.

Having sold my business last month, I went through several practices of reducing overhead costs that helped to increase my bottom line for valuation. It seemed like every time I looked at operational costs, I was able to remove one or two expenses.--Souny West, CHiC Capital

9. Fulfill early aspects of a longer-term vision.

To increase the value of your business by orders of magnitude for larger companies that may want to acquire you, you will want to demonstrate both promise (with a solid revenue model) and potential (with new ideas that are beginning to prove profitable). Prototype your next product, gather pre-orders for your latest offering, or conduct market research to identify untapped areas for growth.--Firas Kittaneh, AstraBeds

10. Lengthen your stable revenue.

Get your customers on 12-month contracts or longer. Revenue certainty increases confidence for potential business buyers. If you don't have your customers on contract, every one of them could leave with you after you complete the sale. Even if non-tampering language is put into the sale agreement, customer contracts give your buyer additional revenue to factor into their purchase price.--Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

11. Improve your conversion rates.

The higher your conversion rate, the more valuable you are in the eyes of those who are in the market to buy your business. Before selling, push as many efforts as you can towards boosting your conversions so you can show that customers are actually buying your product/service and are completing transactions with you. This is an extremely valuable asset that is crucial when selling. -Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

12. Document everything.

If every business process is clearly documented and repeatable, it is one less thing that the buyer has to worry about. From sales to HR, make sure that you have clear flowcharts for all possible workflows. -Pratham Mittal, VenturePact

Published on: Apr 20, 2015