Selling a Business

How I Did It: I Bought a Failing Business and Turned it Around in 60 Days

“My partner and I bought a software business and we took it apart. We were set out to turn this warhorse into a systems house.”

“My partner and I bought a software business and we took it apart. We were set out to turn this warhorse into a systems house.”

In this episode, Trusted Counsel’s Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak to Senior Counsel, Tom Wardell who joined the firm in early 2018. If you missed the press release on Tom’s joining Trusted Counsel, you can read it here. Additionally, Tom was president and CEO of Versyss from 1988 to 1993. Versyss was a provider of computer systems for small businesses and based in Boston and Los Angeles. It was the largest provider in the United States for the physician practice and credit union industries and one of the top-three providers for the construction and building-supply industry. Tom’s experience with buying and selling Versyss gives him unique insight and practical understanding of our clients’ businesses and the operating problems and issues they face. We’re pleased to share with you our in-depth interview with Tom Wardell.

According to Tom, he and his business partner David knew what they were getting into when they bought Versyss. They had a good sense of where the mistakes were and what the problems were. Upon takeover, they immediately set out to get rid of expensive R&D projects. Next, they tightened operations which meant eliminated various projects and there were necessary layoffs. Lastly, they decided to set the foundation for a larger concept that entailed positioning the company as a “systems integrator.” They managed to turn the business around in 60 days in terms of having it run in the black, and therefore, generating cash that they could use for operations.

Absolutely critical during the process was having a strong executive team. Tom said “You wind up needing people who first of all buy into your vision. Secondly, you need to know how to assign responsibility and hold people accountable without pushing or scaring them.” The business success can also be contributed to managers who created a strong team.

Tom ultimately sold the business because a true systems integration business required an engineering/programming creating thinking group that was different than what the company was at the time. Secondly, his business partner became very unwell.  Based on his partner’s illness, Tom thought it best to sell the business instead of continuing this entrepreneur undertaking.      

During the course of the podcast, CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:

  • The biggest challenges Tom faced when he bought the business

  • What prompted him to start wearing bow ties (it started when he bought the business!)

  • How he got the business out of the black in 60 days

  • Advice for CEOs or first-time entrepreneurs looking to sell a business

To learn more about the steps that you should be taking inside your business now to make it more attractive for a successful sale visit our dedicated website www.preppingtheprincess.com. Also, be sure to check out our new e-book titled Prepping the Princess: Is Your Business Ready to Sell? Download the e-book here. The e-book is compiled of a collection of conversations recorded over the course of 2018 as a podcast series on our podcast show called “In Process: Conversations About Business in the 21st Century.” The show is hosted by Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel. The e-book is designed to give the enterprising business owner an idea of how to prepare for an exit, even if that transaction is years away from fruition.

Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes and now on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

Prepping the Princess: Experts to Speak on What Makes a Business Attractive to Buyers

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With abundant capital, tax cuts and a very healthy merger-and-acquisition (M&A) environment, business owners are in a position to realize significant net cash proceeds from the sale of their businesses.

To help them be prepared for an exit, Trusted Counsel has united with FOCUS Investment BankingH+W | AprioNewport Board Group, Carabiner Communications and Wilmington Trust to present the second edition of “Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell?” 

The event, which includes a panel discussion, will take place at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at The Buckhead Club in Atlanta. CEOs, Presidents, CFOs and Finance Managers for privately-held businesses interested in attending should visit www.preppingtheprincess.com to request an invitation. (If you happen to miss the deadline and are interested in attending a future panel discussion, kindly send us an email through the preppingtheprincess.com website).

According to a 2018 business trends study, more than 40 percent of current business owners are preparing to exit. Yet many are unprepared to sell:  

  • 58 percent have never had their company appraised;
  • 48 percent have no formal exit strategy;
  • 37 percent have no structures in place to shield cash proceeds

“Our first ‘Prepping the Princess’ event was extremely successful and business-exit topics continue to be among the most requested on our ‘In-Process’ podcast, so we felt as though it was the perfect time to bring back this popular event for Round 2,” said Evelyn Ashley, managing partner, Trusted Counsel. “Being prepared for a sale transaction not only gets you increased value from a purchase price perspective but also affects the time you spend in the process, which is rigorous. So, when you're prepared, the credibility with the buyer goes up that much more as well as increases the probability that you will have a successful transaction.”

Ashley added, “It pays huge dividends to get perspective from experienced legal, investment, accounting, advisory, branding, and wealth-management professionals who understand what sellers and buyers think about when going into a transaction.”

Attendees can expect to learn:

  • What makes a business attractive to a buyer?
  • What steps can be taken inside the business to make it more appealing for the sale;
  • How does branding factor into your plan for an exit?
  • How do you know your business is ready for the "Transaction Dance?"

Panelists will include Manan Shah, managing partner, FOCUS Investment Banking; Michael Levy, partner-in-charge, Transaction Advisory Services, H+W | Aprio; Doug Tatum, chairman of the board, Newport Board Group; Peter Baron, founder and principal, Carabiner Communications; Jonathan Fitzgerald, vice president and director of wealth and fiduciary planning in the Southeast, Wilmington Trust; and John Monahon, partner, Trusted Counsel. George Shea, a FOCUS partner and IT team leader, is slated to moderate the panel.

The fee to attend the event is $35, which will be donated to LaunchPad2x.com, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides mentoring and training for future CEOs. Subscribe to our show "In Process Podcast on iTunes to receive all of the episodes of the "Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell? episodes as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell? Part Three

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How to Boost Brand Reputation Ahead of the Sale

This week on “In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century,” we continue with the next podcast in our series dedicated to the topic of preparing your business for sale. This series leads up to the physical event we are hosting at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018, in Atlanta titled, "Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell?"  

When companies think about their brands, among the first things that come to mind are name, colors, logo design, and even a tag line. However, reputation is one of the most important―and most often overlooked―attributes for a brand. Brand reputation refers to how your company is viewed by others, whether it’s customers, prospects, partners or marketplace influencers such as media and analysts. Having a positive brand reputation means customers trust your company, and feel good about purchasing and recommending your products or services. Being able to demonstrate a strong and viable brand in the marketplace helps build value in the eyes of potentials buyers who might be interested in purchasing your company.

In the third installment of our six-part podcast series, show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak with Peter Baron, Carabiner Communications founder and principal, about what companies need to consider from a marketing and branding standpoint prior to a potential sale. Carabiner Communications is a top PR firm in Atlanta, specializing in marketing and lead generation.

“Companies often don't put enough strategic effort and muscle into creating visibility for their brand, whether it involves a rebrand or support to boost an existing reputation in the marketplace,” said Peter. “Another mistake we see is not investing enough in a particular marketing channel―for example, choosing to go 1-inch deep in 10 different marketing channels instead of going 6-inches deep in three of them that really matter. Determining where your customers actually are and prioritizing those communications avenues will help.”

Sellers are often so focused on the legal and tax consequences of a potential transaction that they often lose sight of proven marketing strategies and tactics―and even reduce budgets for these activities―that will help them increase the value of their companies.

During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs, business owners and C-level executives will learn about the:

  • Concept of brand reputation as part of the sale
  • Considerations for rebranding
  • Elements of a good brand
  • Marketing strategies, tactics and assets involved with a rebrand
  • Right mix of content to satisfy prospects’ and customers’ information needs

Learn how to develop an integrated marketing campaign to build or boost brand reputation ahead of a sale by streaming the conversation in its entirety in the player below, or download it to your mobile device via iTunes. Don’t miss a single episode, subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

“Prepping the Princess” is an invitation-only event for C-level executives and business owners. The event will provide substantive information on the key elements, which most every business should possess, to make it an attractive participant at the sale dance. For more information on the event and to request an invitation, please go to preppingtheprincess.com.

 

Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell? Part One

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Preparation: The Key to Securing the Best Value for Your Company

This week on “In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century,” we begin our series of podcasts dedicated to the topic of preparing your business for sale. This series leads up to the physical event we are hosting at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018, in Atlanta titled, "Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is Your Business Ready to Sell?"  Visit the dedicated website of the event to learn more at www.PreppingThePrincess.com.

There is certainly a lot of excitement in the merger and acquisition (M&A) market currently. Interest rates are low. Capital is abundant, both at private equity groups as well as strategic investors. The “strategics” seem to have more cash on their balance sheets than ever before in history, and so that lends to a very healthy M&A environment. Coupled with tax cuts, sellers are in a position to realize some significant net cash proceeds advantages―but you have to be prepared.

In the first installment of our six-part podcast series, show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak with Aprio’s Michael Levy, partner-in-charge of Transaction Advisory Services, and Yelena Epova, partner-in-charge of International Services, about financial and tax considerations. Aprio is Georgia's largest full-service CPA-led advisory firm.

“From a due diligence perspective, you get benefits from experienced professionals who understand what sellers and buyers think about when going into a transaction,” said Michael. “Many of our clients are very interested in learning about the market and the process. The earlier you can start to have those conversations, the more prepared you can be to enter into a transaction. Preparedness absolutely translates into transaction value, i.e. more dollars in sellers’ pockets.”

Being prepared for a transaction not only gets you increased value from a purchase price perspective but also affects the time you spend in the process, which is rigorous. So, when you're prepared, the credibility with the buyer goes up that much more as well as increases the probability that you will have a successful sale transaction.

“You want to make your company is due-diligence proof,” said Yelena. “You don't want to find out through the process ‘Oops, I haven't done this or this is not right.’ There will always be some questions, but you don't want to have major surprises.”

During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs, business owners and C-level executives will learn about the:

  • Current state of the M&A market
  • Tax changes and implications to consider
  • Why due diligence is essential and the types of advisors you need
  • Importance of an audit and other financial reports  
  • Options for structuring a deal
  • Pros and cons of earn-outs

Learn about the steps you can take to prepare your business for a sale now or for the future by streaming the conversation in its entirety in the player below, or download it to your mobile device via iTunes. Don’t miss a single episode, subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

“Prepping the Princess” is an invitation-only event for C-level executives and business owners. The event will provide substantive information on the key elements, which most every business should possess, to make it an attractive participant at the sale dance. For more information on the event and to request an invitation, please go to preppingtheprincess.com.