Hire a Specialist

By Scott Bushkie – CBI, M&A Advisor

Scott Bushkie - Cornerstone Business Services

I don’t just tell people to use a specialist and then go home and try to do things on my own. I just sold my house, and because of the licensing I need to sell a business, I had the proper credentials to sell it myself. I already have all the forms and a good relationship with an attorney who would advise me.

But I still chose to use a real estate agent for three reasons:

– I don’t know what I don’t know
– I believed a specialist would bring greater value than the cost
– My time was better spent focusing on my business

In the most recent Market Pulse Survey sponsored by IBBA and M&A Source, we asked advisors to tell us how much time they spend selling a business. The result was that advisors on average put in at least 300 hours per deal.

Most lower middle market advisors spent 300 to 500 hours on the business they sold, and some averaged more than 500 hours per engagement. When we asked advisors how much time they spent on their longest successful sale, 35% had put in more than 750 hours to get a business to the closing table.

That’s just the advisor’s time. That doesn’t include the seller’s portion of the deal, which requires pulling information, reviewing legal and financial documents, and meeting with buyers, etc.

For business owners thinking about selling their business by themselves, I say take a look at the time it takes a professional to close a deal. Now think about all the hours you’ll spend trying to figure out what to do. Selling your business by yourself is like having a dress rehearsal as your first and only show.

I took my own advice and hired Jill Dickson, a residential real estate specialist from Coldwell Banker. She has a whole team and a system in place, and I was very impressed with every aspect of her service, from the marketing, to the professional pictures and video, to the consultants who helped us stage our house.

Yes, I could have saved her fee, but I believe Jill represented my home better than I could have myself. We got a full price offer within two days of putting it on the market, which goes to show – she knows how to sell a house.

If I suggest you use a specialist when selling your business (and if I say it a little too often), know that it comes from a place of strong conviction. When you get to that stage, and the fat lady is about to sing, I want you to have the performance of a lifetime and maximize the value of your company.

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A thought-leader in the industry, Scott developed the Cornerstone Process to offer investment banking M&A-level services to the lower middle market. The result is a closing ratio that’s more than double the national average.