Preparing to Sell your Business
Selling your window cleaning business, you've built over many years is never easy. For many, the hardest part is preparing the business for the marketplace or finding the right time to exit.
You are, no doubt, a skilled professional window cleaner. But as a business owner, you have also invested a significant portion of your life building and maintaining the business…not just cleaning. Rightly so, you probably have an emotional attachment to it. So, to say goodbye in a sale it may feel like you are losing a member of the family and if those emotions are left unchecked, they can have a real dollar impact on the outcome of your business sale. As much as possible, you need to find ways to remain objective, making a good business decision.
One of the most important things you can do to manage your emotions is to prepare a comprehensive exit strategy long before you are ready to list your company in the marketplace. By writing down your exit in advance, you will be more emotionally prepared for the transition if or when it occurs. At some point in the exit planning process, you will need to seriously consider what you will do after the sale has been finalized. Will you retire? Consult? Work elsewhere in the industry? Sellers who lack a solid plan for the next stage of life find it difficult to let go of their businesses and are more likely to allow personal emotions to hijack the process.
Keep in mind, also, you may have your finger on the pulse of the business but a potential buyer will rely heavily on numbers and metrics. Mike Draper, owner of American Window Cleaning Magazine, who previously sold a large window cleaning company in Illinois says “…a buyer is looking for longevity and a track record of revenues and profits.” A potential buyer, bearing much risk, needs to see financial details. So then, ask yourself; “how do my financials look?” Can a potential buyer look at your business’ income statement and balance sheet and make a responsible decision to proceed or are they as mysterious and convoluted as staring at Enron’s financials?
The rewards, though, can be great. Mike Draper, quoted earlier, says “a seller should expect some sort of multiplier of owner’s compensation. For example, compensation from salary, dividends, reimbursements and allowances for depreciation.” Many banks today, with stable and improving revenues, may be comfortable with 3 or more times owner’s compensation.