Business Owners Must Think Like Investors

Business owners today are facing a perfect storm of controllable uncontrollable variables. But according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 52% don’t know they need to take themselves out of harms way.

Think of the situation before Hurricaine Katrina: some people believed it was important to leave the New Orleans area, and some did not. Those that did not suffered and the rest of us were left wondering what it was that didn’t compel them leave New Orleans when they had the chance. Today, three years after Katrina, when the forecasters yell Hurricaine, the residents along the Gulf Coast don’t think twice, they go.

What’s going to galvanize business owners into getting ready to avoid the perfect storm?

The boomer bulge, born 1946 through 1962 will spend the next ten to fifteen years extracting their wealth out of the economy to put to other uses. Or I should say, attempting to extract their share of their company’s value. The only problem is, owners have not prepared their businesses so that they are attractive for investors to acquire them.

A perfect storm of influences will increase the supply of companies for sale right when the need is greatest for investors to buy them. The storm is manageable, but only if owners take preventive action now to be ready. It can take 2-3 years to put the company on a growth plan. It’s more than just slapping a coat of paint on and installing granite counters.

Here are the big clouds on the horizon for this perfect storm:

1. The economy is in a decline;

2. There are more than 1.7 million businesses in Canada. 50% are owned by boomers. 500,000 will want to sell. In any given year in Canada, roughly 25,000 businesses change hands.

3. Owners don’t like thinking about the day they won’t own the business

4. Owners don’t know who to talk to. It’s understandable that they don’t talk about it. They don’t want competitors or employees to find out they’re thinking of transitioning their ownership.

Business owners need to take heed and learn how to see their organizations through the eyes of an investor: get to know the key indicators they look for and make sure they are instilled throughout the company. Remember, an investor buys the future certainty of profitability, rather than the past. For every foggy indicator, the risk increases and so the price they are willing to pay decreases.

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