Selling For Millions – The Top 10 Essentials For A High Company Valuation

It’s a common aim for entrepreneurs when they start their business. Building it up and selling it for at least a million, or maybe even multiple millions.

It’s certainly possible and many people have achieved the magic number but for every one that does there are thousands who never make it even close and never quite work out why. So what are the common factors in a multi-million pound sale? Here are the top 10 factors that contribute towards achieving that goal.

1. Multi-Million Sales And Profits

It may be obvious but this is the traditional and still the best real way to achieve a multi-million exit. That’s not to say it’s easy, you need to work hard to get to one million’s worth of sales and even harder to get to the next ten million. However, if you can achieve multi-million pound profits then your chances of a multi-million sale of your company are greatly enhanced, although still not guaranteed as it depends on the type of business you’re in.

2. A Very Scalable Business

When a buyer is looking to acquire a business they are looking for the future potential that will come from that company. The price they pay is a reflection of what they expect the future returns from the business to be. This means that the greater the potential of your business the greater the value. And the most important element in that potential is how easily the business can grow, its scalability. If your business is wholly dependent on you doing all the work because you have very specialist skills then there is a definite restriction on how much the business can grow as you only have 24 hours in the day. If you have a product or service that can be easily replicated at a low cost (e.g. software) then the company can grow far more easily with limited additional expenditure. This makes your company much more valuable because it has far greater potential for growth.

3. Valuable IPR

Businesses that achieve high valuations often have very strong Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). These are the patents, copyright, trademarks and legally protected inventions and brands that the company holds. If you have intellectual property that is legally protected so that other companies can’t easily copy it, then you benefit from scarcity value. If you have good IPR then it means customers have to come to you for the product or service, which makes what you’re selling more valuable. Large corporations and VCs like to acquire strong IPR with a company as it gives a greater justification if a high price is paid and it gives them exclusive access to the rights. It can be tough to achieve the higher valuations you want without IPR.

4. A Desirable Customer Base

Sometimes a company is bought simply to provide the buying company with access to the customer base. The alternative is for the buyer to generate the sales and customer base themselves but this takes time. If you have a loyal customer base of regular, high spending, credit worthy clients, then the value of your business is significantly enhanced. A buyer will be looking to see what value they can get from selling their products and services to your customers and they will also have expectations of increasing the value of sales to those customers. And that could mean millions for them and for you.

5. A Hot Sector That’s In Demand

This can be one of the best ways of achieving a high sales value but it’s very challenging to get the right sector at the right time and find the right buyer. For all the Facebooks and Bebos that get it right, there are many thousand also-rans who didn’t catch the market’s imagination. It’s not necessarily about being first but it’s about being early, fast growing and getting attention from the right people.

6. A Great Brand

If your company has spent significant time and money generating a very strong brand in the market and your brand name is the first one that people think of in your sector, then your chances of a high price sale increase significantly. Brands have huge value to businesses as they can keep customers coming back, through brand loyalty, and attract new customers, through brand recognition. The brand may be the most popular or it may be associated with high value, bringing higher value customers with it. Again, it can be a challenge to create a really strong brand but if you succeed the value can be huge.

7. Exclusive Rights

If your company has the exclusive, legally enforceable, rights to a territory then they can be worth a significant amount to a buyer. If your competitors can’t break into a particular geographic market because you have an agreement with a supplier that no-one else can sell their products or services in that territory then they will often want to buy you simply to gain that access. The alternative for a competitor could be that they have to ignore that whole territory or country which could bring down their own valuation. Whilst you should never over-pay (ideally you shouldn’t pay much at all) for exclusive rights, they are well worth having if you can agree them.

8. Highly Successful Marketing & PR

Sometimes a business achieves a high valuation purely on what appears to be hype and promotion. This is about being in the public domain and getting noticed. It’s certainly a lot harder to achieve a multi-million pound exit when no-one has heard of you. Of course, if you really want to get all the way to completing an exit you will ideally need to have a decent business to back-up the marketing, although it’s been achieved before without much substance. Getting your company known through marketing and PR should be a natural goal of the business anyway, as it generally allows you to sell more if done properly. However, it can be a dangerous route to start marketing programs just to gain the attention of people who might want to buy your company and you should always carefully measure the effectiveness of any campaign.

9. A Great Balance Sheet

If your business has a very strong balance sheet, with lots of assets and not so many liabilities, then you can achieve a multi-million sale of the business just on that basis. Generally, this will mean that you have achieved one or more of the other options in this list already, particularly the high sales and profits one. Another way of looking at this is that you are less likely to walk away with a multi-million deal if you have a very weak balance sheet that is burdened with debt. If you’ve had to borrow a huge amount to get your business to its current state then when you sell you can easily find all the money just goes to pay back the debt and you’re left with very little in the end. The stronger your balance sheet, the better your chances of a good deal that pays your millions when you sell.

10. Something To Plug The Gap In A Large Corporate

This covers a few of the previous factors because it really comes down to a large company asking themselves whether it would be best to spend the time and money to build up a customer base, brand, IPR and revenue stream themselves or whether it is better to just buy it ready made. Generally, this solution works for niche businesses that focus in a very specific area. Large companies will often conduct strategy reviews that look at how they are serving their customer base with a particular set of products or services. This will often give rise to a gap in the service offering that they will want to fill to provide a full service. If you have the business that fills that gap and you can get yourself in front of them, there can certainly be a multiple million sale on the cards.

Overall, all these factors will benefit your business whether you want to achieve a multi-million sale of your business, whether you want to create a great lifestyle business or whether you just want to create something you can be proud of. And on the way it will allow you to create jobs, boost the economy and benefit your local community. And if you sell for a large sum, just think of all the good you could do with that, along with maybe just a few small treats for yourself.

Legal Plan: Does Your Family Need Legal Protection?

We all know that America is home to the most litigious society on the planet. A woman spills a cup of coffee on herself and sues the restaurant claiming it was too hot. Or how about the Judge that sued the cleaners for $54 million for losing a suit. If that’s not crazy enough, how about the concert goer, who several years after the incident, sued the rock star for falling on her and injuring her with his buttocks. You can Google “outrageous law suits” and get over 3 million results that include stories even more ludicrous than these. When you consider that there are 3 lawsuits filed in America every second, is it any wonder why legal plans are becoming a big part of the financial and security protection for families and small businesses? Remember, sixty years ago it was uncommon to own a health plan. Today it is uncommon not to have one. And today, many European countries have as much as an 80% participation rate with legal plans. But in America, and Canada for that matter, less than 10% of people have a legal plan.

So a law suit is one thing, but what about the everyday common things that can cause our veins to pop out of our heads. Here’s one:

A father pays for his daughter’s wedding reception to be held at very nice ball room. A few hours into the event, the plumbing goes out. He calls the event manager to request emergency services, and they arrive with a port-a-potty. After the event, when he calls to register a complaint, they offer a small refund of about $100, about ten percent, arguing that the event was almost over anyway. They haggle back and forth, and the owner basically says take it or leave it. The father calls his legal plan provider law firm for assistance. After the law firm writes a letter on his behalf to the business owner, the father receives a refund in the mail for over half of the cost.

Here’s another:

While a neighbor is walking his rottweiler dog, he lets it loose to run and it attacks and kills another a chihuahua dog that was in its own yard. The neighbor quickly retrieves his dog and disappears. When the police are called, they basically tell the dead dog’s owners that there really isn’t much they can do, and that maybe they should call the county animal control. The deceased dog’s owner makes a call to the legal plan provider attorney, and is advised to request that the police take a report and to have the incident on record, and then call animal control with that report number to have them investigate. Subsequently, when animal control does investigate, they find that the attacking dog is not registered, takes it into custody, fines the owner and requires that they register their dog to get it back. Also, a the legal plan law firm writes a letter to the owner demanding a monetary amount for full restoration of the dead dog. The attacking dog’s owner complies.

Having a legal plan to address the small legal issues like these can be quite beneficial to families, especially for the relatively small cost that they charge. Most charge a monthly fee, with the average daily cost being less than the price of a cup of coffee at the local convenience store.

Most legal plan companies will generally provide you with the basics, like phone consultation, letters and phone calls on your behalf, contract and document review, and a general will. And some of the legal plan companies provide more extensive plans that will cover you, at no extra cost, for representation for things like motor vehicle moving violations, IRS Audits, and trial defense services. And even a few provide Identity Theft Protection.

Having legal representation in court for vehicle moving violations – lets call it what it is, speeding – can really be valuable when it comes to car insurance premiums. As it was described to me years ago, “It’s the points, dummy.”. For we all know that for every point on your driving record, or your teenager’s driving record for that matter, your insurance premium will go up – if they don’t drop you altogether. If you can find a plan that offers this coverage – and there are some out there – it could be a huge plus for you pockets.

I won’t even go into depth about dealing with an IRS audit. Plain and simple, when Uncle Sam comes calling, you better answer with a tax attorney.

And as you already read earlier, law suits are getting crazier by the day. And more are being filed than ever before.

So, in summary, when you know that the odds are greater that one will be in court than in the hospital in the next year, the question isn’t “Does your family need legal protection?”, the question is “Can your family afford not to have a legal plan?” After all, with these odds, it goes to say that it’s not if you are going to need an attorney, but quite frankly, when you are going to need one.

We Need a Justice System, Not a Legal System (an Inside Look)

In the United States, above all things, the legal system should be fair, but instead, it is big business.

Additionally, engaging the legal system should not be a major financial decision, but for millions of people in America, it is. Yet, it is also difficult to imagine that this grim reality was one of the original goals defined by those apt gentlemen who created and signed the Declaration of Independence as they chased the dream of a country that could consistently provide the opportunities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in equal doses to all.

Unfortunately, the legal system that has evolved in the United States, does guarantee equal protection, representation or opportunity to each and every citizen. Perhaps, upon being founded, the legal system should have been foregone and instead replaced by the notions of a justice system. In a justice system, the fair assumption would be that justice as determined by reasonable peers, would prevail. In stark contrast to a justice system, the modern legal system permits those individuals with the most money to prevail. And this, quite simply does not often lend itself to any form of justice, regardless of how remote that form may long to be.

If a person Googles, “average cost per hour for an attorney”, that person will learn that an attorney in rural areas may earn between $100 and $200 per hour, while the slicker, big city attorneys are in the average range of $400 to $600 per hour. Extrapolating this information over a 40 hour work week for one year, the lowest paid full-time lawyers on the attorney totem pole are earning over $200,000 a year ($100 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $208,000). When considering this dim reality, it quickly becomes obvious that the average citizen does not possess the means to pay even the cheapest attorney for any significant length of time.

Upon further examination of the facts, we must consider salaries and wages. The minimum wage varies from state to state. As per the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures, two states have now passed laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. California was the first state to pass such laws. This state has now formally required employers to pay $15 per hour by January 1, 2022. New York quickly followed suit, passing legislation requiring employers to pay $15 per hour by July 1, 2020. This means that once the minimum wage is actually increased, earners in each of these states, will be able to afford an inexpensive rural attorney for 39 days by spending an entire year of wages earned ($15 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $31,200 annually / $100 per hour for an attorney = 312 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 39 days). However, if someone in a big city needs to hire an attorney and is making $15 per hour, that person can afford an attorney for less than 10 days by spending an entire year of wages earned ($15 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $31,200 annually / $400 per hour for an attorney = 78 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 9.75 days). Clearly the minimum wage earner will not have fair or adequate representation, for any real length of time in the current legal (not justice) system, against any sizable entity whose coffers may be ever so scantily lined with rotting cash.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the real (inflation adjusted) median household income in the United States was $51,939 (or $24.97 per hour) in 2013. The United States Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report for 2013-2014, published statistics on attorney’s fees by geographical region. It also separated small firms and large firms into different categories. The lowest average hourly rate available from any law firm in the United States, is $253 (available in the Pacific States of AK, HI and WA), which is billed by small firms. Whereas, the biggest average hourly rate required by law firms in the United States is $546, billed by large firms in North East (CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, RI and VT). This means that the average American income, at the cheapest average hourly rate in the United States, would be able to afford legal representation for less than 26 days ($51,939 annually / $253 per hour for an attorney = 205.29 total hours / 8 hours per work day = 25.66 days), while the lowly, average, full time attorney billing $253 per hour earns $526,240 per year ($253 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year).

And, if a person happens to be in need of legal representation or was falsely accused of a crime and is in need of a defense, that person faces a painful reality. But, don’t forget that this pendulum swings both ways, just ask O.J. Simpson, who perhaps bought his way out of a murder conviction by spending an exorbitant amount of money on attorney fees.

Also, please be aware that this disparity does not stop with these details. Moving away from the low and average range for attorney’s fees, forces our attention only in the upward direction. A large group of attorneys easily make over $1,000 per hour and many of those proponents of a fair legal system claim to bill at double that amount. For example, the notorious bankruptcy attorney Theodore Olsen (although I bet all of his friends just call him Teddy the Bankruptcy Bear) is on record for billing $1,800 per hour, according to court filings in the LightSquared Inc., wireless network bankruptcy case filed in 2012. But the thick, brown, gravy train doesn’t stop to even glance at that billable fee as it trucks on down golden plated tracks. Berge Setrakian and Ralph Ferrara were both reported to make approximately $12.5 million in 2011. Again, simple math tells us that a person earning $12.5 million, who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks per year, is earning $6,009.62 per hour, which makes a teacher’s salary pale in humble comparison.

Additional figures that do not bode well for most Americans in need of legal representation are the following supplementary facts. As per the U.S. Embassy.gov website, the average time for a jury trial is 4 days for civil cases and 5 days for criminal cases (at least, in 2009). However, cases do not start in trial and they often take a substantial amount of time to get there. To help illustrate this point, a person must first be arraigned. After arraignment, the preliminary hearing phase usually takes 5 to 6 days. In the case of misdemeanor charges, the next step in the legal system is the motions and hearing phase. This typically takes 3 months, but may also exceed 2 years, during which time an attorney is billing the client to file court documents and respond to documents filed by the opposition’s legal team. Based on this reality, the average American may run completely out of cash long before the case ever makes it to trial, in which case, justice is not part of the destination and possibly never even made it onto the legal landscape map.

For business, this dynamic is even worse, because numerous states permit an individual to file “pro per” on behalf of a business. This means an individual or owner chooses to represent him/herself, even though state laws might clearly require a business to be represented by an attorney in a court of law. In systems such as these, the individual may file the case on behalf of a company and begin paying court fees only to learn at a later date that an attorney is required to move the case forward. These legal systems actually cause financial harm and damage to the suffering individual in addition to the actual damages that motivated the case to be filed in the first place. With a minimal amount of expectations, one should be able to assume that engaging the legal system, unto itself, should not inflict a greater financial wound on the already injured party, but it does.

That said, it isn’t just the structure of the laws that make a mockery of the legal system, it is also the system itself. Fortunately, in an effort to dive deeper into the vastness of this overwhelming problem, we may also turn to the US Federal Government for more insight. Twice each year, it publishes statistics on the Federal Court System. Please note however, that these statistics do not include any of the non-federal courts, such as the state and municipal courts.

First, understand that there are 9 different Federal Court Systems:
1. U.S. Courts of Appeals
2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
3. U.S. District Courts – Civil
4. U.S. District Courts – Criminal
5. Federal Probation System Courts
6. U.S. Bankruptcy Courts
7. Federal Pre-Trial Service Courts
8. U.S. District Courts – Grand and Petit Jurors
9. the U.S. Federal Courts.

And, let’s not forget that the first court on that lists, consists of thirteen different courts:
1. U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
3. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
4. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
5. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
6. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
7. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
8. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
9. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
10. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
11. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
12. U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
13. Supreme Court of the United States (Court of Last Resort)

After a quick glance, it becomes quite apparent that an individual not only needs an attorney to understand the laws and the intention of those laws, a person may also need the assistance of an attorney to grasp the purpose of each of these courts and the appropriate place to begin seeking “justice” by filing a case in the proper court, since there are soooooo many to choose from.

Truly, it is unfortunate that a person literally has no individual rights unless that person knows the law and most Americans can’t afford to pay an attorney to know the law. So then, how free is the land of the free and the home of the brave when freedom and fair legal representation require money to attain?