During every business sale, there is phase where the seller’s business is valued and evaluated – not purely in context of commercial value, but also in a subjective manner through the eyes of the potential buyer. The buyer’s industry, company age, philosophy, approach to doing things and staff culture all impact your business' perceived value.
During this evaluation stage, what may seem like minor technology concerns can turn out to significantly impact the valuation of your company. Mole hills can become mountains.
Looking back, many sellers regret their decision to not take these technology concerns seriously. Perhaps they even showed a flippant attitude to the significance of what would later be a key factor in the sale of their company.
Companies can often develop internal cultures that reinforce old habits, rather than looking externally for what may be the latest industry best practice. Bringing in an external consultant who is not already affiliated with your business, can provide an invaluable perspective from someone looking at your business with “fresh eyes”. Ask for an audit of your tech setup. This does not have to be a lengthy or painful process. Most Australian IT consultants would be able to provide this for less than $2,000 and within a week.
This audit may come back with recommendations such as:
Upgrade to a faster internet connection to increase staff productivity
Change to a more secure anti-virus software
Implement an automated incremental backup to multiple off-site locations to prevent the likelihood of lost data from server crash or hackers
Install security cameras throughout your premises
Once you have the audit, consider what you could upgrade or improve to enhance the presentation of your company.
This audit may include a risk analysis of the most likely events that could interrupt your business’ operations, and how to prevent these events from occurring.
This article was written by Lloyds' Business Brokers Brisbane.
Document Your Systems Architecture
The seller should provide some simple schematic diagrams of the business’ systems architecture to the buyer. In other words - how the business’ tech operates from a high level perspective. This provides the new owner with a clear understanding of how systems, software and hardware “fits together” to make the overall business function.
We recommend simple diagrams to accommodate this documentation, as diagrams tend to communicate more clearly (and in less words) what relationships there are between your technical assets. The names in these diagrams should match the names in your tech inventory list.
Keep A Tech Inventory
If you don’t already have an inventory of tech (including hardware and software), create one. Just doing this in itself, will add value to your business, as it will more clearly define some of the tangible assets that the new owner will be getting for their money.
Consider the analogy of a house for sale within a real estate market. A neat and tidy home will be sold more easily and at a higher price, than a house of comparative size, location and style but that is messy or in need of repairs.
So in what ways might your business be in need of some tech “repair”? Most companies accumulate dated technology, systems and software that either is no longer needed or is out of date. Here are some things to look for:
Software & Systems
Without a significant increase in costs, could you upgrade to newer software packages that are more widely used within the industry, or held in higher esteem by other businesses. Using dated or unknown software makes you a liability to a would-be buyer.
Old hardware (such as computers, cabling, screens, phones, printers, or servers) not only make you look bad, but they are also a liability. The buyer knows that old hardware will soon be in need of repair or replacing, which is an additional hidden cost that may scare off a buyer.
Licenses & Accounts
Consolidate your accounts as much as possible. For example, have staff registered individual copies of Microsoft, Adobe, Xero, MYOB etc and are playing a balancing act with multiple user accounts and licenses. Any unnecessary complications hinder smooth operations, slow down resolution time and again represent a liability for the new owners.
Organize Your Workforce
Your staff may be the most valuable asset of your business. A workforce that is well organized in terms of their roles and responsibilities will be more attractive to a buyer. A team that is organized well will have clear documentation surrounding the following:
Clear job titles, roles and responsibilities
A history of KPIs, targets and bonuses
An organization hierarchy chart showing interdepartmental relationships and reporting channels.
Does your business have written policies and procedures? Or do staff do whatever they feel like on the day? Whether you have set policies and procedures reveals much about the operational excellence of your team.
Such policies may include:
Security, anti-virus and password policies
Credit card payment policies
Purchase orders/requisition procedures
Computer and server backup policies
Social Media posting policies
Policies surrounding the production of digital media
Policies that are organized, easily accessible, and that staff refer to regularly, will increase the perceived value of your organization.
If you are thinking about selling your business and would welcome some assistance in preparing for sale, please contact our experienced team of business brokers operating in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide. We have over 35 years experience in the industry and would be happy to take your call.