It seems like we’re at a fork in the road. On the one hand, there are some positive signs that the economy has recovered from the downturn of 2008. At the same time, the unemployment rate and housing market can’t seem to manage more than a limp, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is still headline news and banks continue to behave badly.
It’s precisely because we’re at this inflection point that we see a lot of business owners hitting the eject button. If you’ve been thinking of selling your business, here are seven reasons to get out now:
1. You’ve lost the stomach for it
A lot of business owners were hit hard by The Great Recession. If you’ve got your business stabilized and the prospect of fighting through another recession leaves you panic-stricken, it may be time to get out.
2. The worst is behind you
Let’s say you were mentally getting ready to sell back in 2007. Then 2008 hit, and 2009 was your worst financial year in recent memory. You cut everything you could in 2010, showed a profit in 2011 and now you’re back in the black and starting to see some growth. With your numbers going in the right direction, now might be just the right time to get out.
3. The tax man is coming.
The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of 2012. This will most likely include a hike in the capital gains tax rate, which is a factor in almost every business sale. While tax considerations aren’t the only reason to sell your business, many owners underestimate their impact on a sale.
4. Nobody is lucky forever
If you’re lucky enough to be in a business that actually benefits from a bad economy, congratulations. You’ve probably just had the three best years of your business life. But no cycle lasts forever and right now may be a great time to take some chips off the table.
5. The coming glut
As a business owner, demographics are not on your side. As the baby boomers start to retire, we’re going to have a glut of small businesses come on the market. That’s great if you’re buying, but if you’re a seller, you may want to get out ahead of the flood.
6. The closing window
It’s been tough for private equity companies to raise money since 2008; so many firms had their last successful round of fund raising in 2007. Many of these funds have a five-year window in which to invest; otherwise they are required to give the money back to the people who gave it to them. Some boutique private equity firms will make investments in companies that have at least one million dollars in pre-tax profits (larger private equity firms will not go below $2 million in EBITDA); so if you’re in the seven-figure club, you could get a bidding war going for your business among private equity buyers keen to invest their money before they have to give it back.
7. A good time to be liquid
Regardless of economic conditions, someone is always making money. Good deals are to be had right now in both the stock market and in real estate, making it a good time to get liquid. With cash in the bank, you can diversify your wealth and start taking advantage of other investment opportunities.
If you feel like a gambler at a blackjack table with everything riding on the outcome of one hand, it may be the right time to take a few chips off the table.
Wondering if you have a sellable business? The Sellability Score is a quantitative tool designed to analyze how sellable your business is. After completing the questionnaire, you will immediately receive a Sellability Score out of 100 along with instructions for interpreting your results. Take the test here: Sellability Score
Many thanks to John Warrillow for his contribution to this post.
Author: Barbara Taylor
Barbara is co-founder of Allan Taylor & Co. and a former New York Times blogger. She has been a small-business owner since 2003. Barbara lives with her husband, Chris, and their two sons in Northwest Arkansas.