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.