Many business owners may think that the tough part is over once they make the call to sell their business. While there’s no doubt that decision can be hard, there is still work to be done. Owners must adapt their business environment to continue running without them. Working with an experienced business advisor can make all the difference as a company shifts towards new leadership.
Thinking Of Stepping Away?
Most owners feel like no one knows the company like they do. After all, you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into growing this business. When the day does come that you need to step away, you can start by asking these questions:
•Are you the primary reason for your company’s ongoing growth?
•Have you built a management team that understands your company inside and out?
•Are the processes that make your business tick documented, or do they reside solely in your head?
•Have your books and financials been kept in order?
How you answer these will depend on how difficult it will be to reduce the organization’s dependence on you. A trusted business advisor can help you loosen the reins to help the team function without you and ensure that your business is attractive to a buyer, ensuring your exit is financially beneficial.
Reducing Dependence on You
Concerned that you are too deeply enmeshed in the day-to-day activities of your company to successfully walk away? An excellent place to start reducing dependence on you to run the show is to document processes and delegating responsibilities. From there, here are some steps you can take to start to wean yourself away before you sell:
Build a strong management team. Do you have leaders you trust to keep things running smoothly if you aren’t around? If not, start taking steps to ensure your management team knows the processes behind your business, from handling the books and payroll to ordering supplies to dealing with employee issues.
Boost the confidence/capability of your team. Maybe your team is strong already, but have you made them feel empowered and capable? If you haven’t shared with your employees and staff that you trust in their abilities, there’s no time like the present.
Spend less time in the office. Once you have a strong, confident team, you need to start stepping away from the day-to-day business activities. This allows the business’ other leaders to test drive how well they do when you are no longer the boss.
Prove To Buyers the Business Works Without You
No doubt, this is a painful reality, but to ensure your business sells for the best possible price and terms, you must prove to a new buyer that the company can operate without you. It may be hard to step away, but if you have done your job right, the company will have the tools to succeed.
Here are some actions to take:
•Delegate responsibilities to trusted employees
•Develop a succession plan
•Detail your company’s processes and procedures
•Implement any necessary new technology
A final note about technology. Today’s world is digital. If you haven’t already brought your business out of the analog realm, that should be top of your to-do list before selling. Start by updating your POS system, digitizing all your processes and moving your operations online or to a cloud-based system.

Editor's note: Ashley Kelsey is with Transworld Business Advisors of Eastern NC. She can be reached at 910-302-6447 or akelsey@tworld.com.

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