Corporate Finance in Atlantic Canada

Commentary on corporate finance issues for small- & mid-market private companies in Atlantic Canada

Posts Tagged ‘exit planning

Business succession in NL

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On a recent VOCM radio show in NL (hosted by BDO partner Nancy Snedden), tax colleague Greg London and I talk in-depth about the challenges of business succession in NL.  We covered a wide variety of topics, such as demographics, taxes, the buyer landscape and more.


Written by Dan Jennings

October 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

5 Elements of a Successful Business Exit

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Below are five required elements for planning and executing a successful business exit.

  1. A plan based on the owners’ objectives.  Talk to your advisor about mapping out possible scenarios and options that align with your goals.  This doesn’t have to be in writing, but walk through the scenarios with an advisor.
  2. Work with an experienced team of advisors.  Accountants, M&A professionals, lawyers and investment advisors should be part of the exit planning process.
  3. A good understanding of business value.  Work with a valuator or M&A professional to understand how the market will value your business.  Do this in advance so that you can discuss any improvements that can boost the value.
  4. Hire a management team.  All other things being equal, a business with an existing management team is more valuable than one without.  Every buyer wants to know that the business can survive (and thrive) when the existing owner retires, and having an existing management team is the best way to prove this to a buyer.
  5. Time.  Allow for planning time in advance of when you want to retire/sell.  The process can take time, but especially if value improvements and/or tax strategies need to be implemented first.

According to some sources, anywhere from 67-90% of businesses listed for sale fail to get sold.  Developing an exit plan using the elements above can improve those odds.

Written by Dan Jennings

November 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Is now a good time to sell your business?

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As M&A advisors, we get asked this question a lot … “is now a good time to sell my business?”

The answer is yes … for example, the last two businesses we’ve sold in NS yielded an average of 9 offers each (signs of a very strong M&A market!).

But the timing still has to work for you and your family.  If you’re 50 years of age selling a small business, the market will typically not yield a high enough price to warrant you giving up the stream of profits from the business (unless you have other income-generating things you want to do after selling).  Of course, that assumes you don’t have health or other issues that could prevent you from operating the business for the next 10 years.

If, however, you are closer to retirement age and want to crystallize the value in your business, the market is very strong right now.  For quality small and mid-market businesses, we estimate there are at least 10 buyers for every seller.  That means a general rise in pricing, but also an improvement in terms (such as lower amounts of vendor financing).

Written by Dan Jennings

July 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Business Transition — Create the Choice

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Good article from BDO’s Grant Robinson on business transition.

My favourite part:

In my experience entrepreneurs should be looking at setting up their business so they have a choice to sell when they want and to whom they want. I am a believer in the philosophy that you will sell your business one day, either involuntarily or voluntarily and no matter what the trigger, you will either sell inside the business or family or to an outside private equity or strategic buyer. If you have prepared the business to be salable to the outside that enhances your ability to sell inside; if you have prepared the business to sell inside it enhances your ability to sell outside. Whatever your focus, the key is to prepare it for sale.

Written by Dan Jennings

May 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm

10 Tips to Shorten the Life of a Family Business

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I like this light-hearted blog post on what NOT to do with your family business.  Dr. Tom Deans is a well-known author & speaker on family business and wealth.  Check it out, but I like these in particular:

Tip #1
Invite all your children into your business as soon as they’re able to walk so that you can enjoy as much of their free labor as possible.

Tip #6
Always tell your non-family employees that there are two sets of policies and procedures – one for family and one for everyone else. This way, when your children show up for work at 11:00 a.m. (when they show up at all) and leave at 2:00 p.m., everyone will know they are following the rules and earning their bonuses.

Note that BDO in Halifax is hosting a session with Tom Deans on January 8 calling Willing Wisdom, register below:

Written by Dan Jennings

November 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm

3 ideas for business owners if you want to retire on your own terms

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An interesting Globe article on some suggestions for planning for your exit from your company (“on your own terms”).

This opening statement is particularly true in my experience:

“If you’re like most small business owners, a significant portion of your retirement capital is tied up in a single asset: your business.”

Many of the items in this Globe article are common themes in this blog.

Written by Dan Jennings

August 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

Timing the market when you sell your business

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An interesting discussion on John Warrilow’s blog about whether now is the time to sell your private business.  One of John’s points is if you sell your business because you think market multiples have peaked, where are you going to invest the proceeds … in a stock market that may have also peaked?

At the end of his post, John touches on a point we are regularly discussing with our clients.  Sell your business when you’re ready to sell for non-financial reasons, and we’ll get you the market price at that time.  However, the challenge for small business owners is the M&A marketplace for many industries does not have large strategic buyers who can pay higher price premiums for transactions in their industry (see my earlier posts on this topic).  That means for many SME owners, it makes more financial sense to keep the business for 4-5 years, take the profits out, and then sell the business … because non-strategic buyers can’t afford to pay the higher multiples of strategic industry buyers.  As long as the owner still has the drive, energy and enthusiasm to focus on the business for a few more years, this strategy often makes most financial sense.

Written by Dan Jennings

June 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm