4 Potential Exit Considerations to Keep In Mind
When business owners discuss exit strategies, they often talk about a potential IPO (initial public offering) or a company sale. It’s a safe bet few IT service providers will ever grow fast enough or have enough intellectual property to warrant an IPO (although the SEC’s new Regulation A+ may change that). Either way, your more natural long-term exit is a potential company sale.
Still, take a closer look because company sales come in multiple forms. Ricardo Weisz, founder and president of NorthVest Company, a private equity firm, says there are four reasons why a suitor would potentially want to buy a company.
- IP (Intellectual Property/Technology):This is when a company gets acquired because they have been able to achieve significant advances in research and development that provide significant barriers of protection, or that it would take the acquirer significant investments in money and time to replicate, he notes.
- Traction: This is when a company gets acquired because it has been able to develop a book of customers (users) that would be attractive to the acquirer as it would complement the acquirer’s own book, or in cases where the cost of customer acquisition is significant. In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons IT service providers get acquired.
- Cash flow/revenue. The cash flow or the revenue that a company throws on a yearly basis can be attractive to a buyer.
- Acqui-hire. This is when a company gets bought out because of its unique team. The buyer is acquiring the team and not the company, per se.
Of course, the exit options don’t end there. Some business exits involve founders selling the company to employees as part of an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Other businesses get handed down from one family generation to the next — with or without money actually changing hands.
Even if you never plan to “sell” or “exit” your business, an actual exit plan helps to ensure you’re on firm financial footing — with good business processes in place — in the event of an emergency (such as a founder or owner’s death) or an unsolicited takeover offer.