5 Questions to Ask When Selling a Business

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Photo by rawpixel.com on UnsplashOne thing business owners don’t often consider when they start a company is what they will do when it is time to move on from their business. Often, there’s the assumption that you’ll be with your company through thick and thin, until the end.

In reality, there might come a point when selling your business is the most viable option for it. That said, just as you didn’t rush into launching your company, it’s important not to rush into a sale of your business. Here are several questions to ask before you sell your business.

Is Your Business Going Up or Down?

One assumption that business owners often make is that it’s better to sell their companies when those companies are experiencing a downswing. But the old adage “buy low, sell high” should apply when it comes to selling a business. If your company is starting to decline, the offers you’re going to get from buyers won’t be as good as they would be if you put your company up for sale while it’s at its peak or getting close to it.

How Much Is Your Business Worth?

When it comes to business worth, there are two values. There’s the amount you think it’s worth, and then there’s the amount that a potential buyer values it at. In some cases, business owners make certain decisions that can make their businesses appear to be worth less than they are. For example, if you route multiple personal expenses through the company, it’s overall value might be lower than you’d expected, meaning that you don’t get as much from a sale as you had hoped.

Working with a virtual CFO can give you a good sense of your business’ worth and what a potential buyer would be willing to pay for it.

What Is the Market Like?

Similar to asking yourself if your business has room to grow or is beginning to decline is asking yourself what the market for your company is like. When it comes to making a sale, you want to strike while the iron is hot and while there is demand for what your company has to offer. Waiting a few months or a few years to complete a sale can mean the difference between getting a sizable amount for your company and struggling to find a buyer at all.  On the other hand, if the market isn’t so great for your industry or niche at the moment, it can be worth waiting before you put it up for sale.

What Does Your Business Look Like to a Potential Buyer?

If a potential buyer were to examine your company closely, would they be able to understand what it does, what customers it serves and what the future can hold for it? As the owner of the company, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. For that reason, it helps to have an outside eye examine your business and give you an idea of what can be improved or changed to make the company more appealing to a buyer.

What Will Happen After the Sale?

Do you have a plan for after the sale of your business? In some cases, the buyer might want you to stay on with the company, at least on a temporary basis, to help it work through the transition. Or, it might be that the buyer would prefer to start from scratch and have you and other members of your management team leave as soon as the sale is completed.

Another thing worth considering is whether you’ll have an ownership interest in the company at all after the sale. If that’s the case, how much of the company will you continue to own and what will your ownership stake translate into? Will you have some say in the day-to-day running of the business or will you move to the sidelines completely?

It might take longer than you anticipated to prepare your business for sale and to complete the sale itself. No matter where you are in the process, the team at New Direction Capital is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how our virtual CFO services can help you as you navigate the sale of your company.

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19 Apr 2018

Skills You Need to Negotiate Better

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Photo by rawpixel.com on UnsplashWhether you’re trying to come to an agreement about salary with a new hire, working on a contract with a new client or communicating with a new vendor,  you most likely negotiate something every single time you go to work. Although negotiation is a key component of doing business, it’s not necessarily something everyone is gifted at doing.  If you’d like to work on your negotiating ability, there are several skills worth focusing on.

Goal Setting Skills

Before you head into any negotiation, it’s important to have a goal in mind. What do you want to get from the negotiating process and how flexible can you be in terms of the outcome?

While it’s a good idea to have a target or most desirable outcome in mind when creating your goal, it’s also a good idea to have a few backup options at the ready. For example, in a salary negotiation, you might set $52,000 as your target salary. But it’s also ideal to have a walk away or bottom line salary in mind too. While you’d prefer to offer a new employee $52,000, it might be that you’d settle for paying them as much as $62,000, depending on how the negotiation goes.

Having a plan B is another key part of setting a goal. What happens if you and a new hire can’t come to an agreement on annual salary? Can you offer other benefits, such as a higher retirement plan match or a few days working from home each week?

Working on your goal setting skills and learning how to adjust goals when needed can help you become a more flexible and effective negotiator.

Time Management Skills

In some circles, “on time” means “five minutes early.” Showing up to a negotiation on time shows the person that you’re working with that you respect their time and schedule. It can also pave the way for a more effective negotiation, as the person you’re working with is going to be less likely to be annoyed at your lateness.

Time management is more than getting to where you need to go on time, though. It also means keeping a negotiation from dragging on and on longer than it needs to. If you need to work on improving your time management skills, there are a few things you can do. One option is to set an alarm for yourself so that you leave with plenty of time to get where you need to go.  Using a time tracking tool can help you learn how long it takes you to complete certain tasks so that you give yourself plenty of time for each negotiating session. In the middle of the negotiation, try to focus on the most important points, rather than dwelling on small details or getting distracted by small talk.

Good Command of Body Language

When you’re in the middle of a negotiation, it’s not only the words that come out of your mouth that influence the other party. It’s also the stance you adopt when speaking to another person. For example, if you avoid eye contact or make a point of deliberately looking away from someone when you speak to them, you’re sending a message that might be at odds with the words that you speak.

It’s not just eye contact that matters when negotiating. It’s also important to greet the other person warmly, such as with a handshake and smile at them throughout the process. If you feel that facing the other party face on is too intimidating, try angling your body slightly. You’ll look and feel more relaxed when you aren’t directly opposite the negotiating party.

Listening Skills

Listening to what the other person has to say during a negotiation is key to its success. If you don’t listen to the other party, the odds are likely that they will get frustrated and you’ll both leave without accomplishing your goals.

One way to improve your listening skills and improve the negotiation process is to actively pay attention to what the other person is saying. When they are speaking, don’t think ahead to how you’ll respond. Instead, focus on them. When it’s your turn to speak, you’ll be more likely to have an appropriate response.

Becoming a better negotiator can help your business grow. To learn more about achieving profitable growth for your business, contact the team at New Direction Capital today.

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Photo by Tim Gouw on UnsplashNo matter how good you think are at something, there is usually always room for improvement. In some cases, becoming better at something can have a significant positive impact on your business. For example, improving your management skills can help to reduce high rates of turnover at your company.

If you’re looking to become a better manager, here’s what you can do to improve your management skills.

Listen to Your Team

One thing that sets good or great managers apart from not-great or even bad managers is the ability to listen. It’s not only important that you listen to what your team has to say — you also need to actually hear what they are saying. In some cases, it’s all too easy for a manager to assume that a particular employee is going to say something or have a particular issue, even if that is far from the truth.

In other instances, a manager might choose to only hear what they want to hear, ignoring anything that could be construed as negative. While that can help you to focus on the positive aspects of your company and team, it can also lead you to ignore or overlook issues that need fixing.

To improve your listening skills, it can help to practice active listening. That can involve repeating back what an employee is saying to you or paraphrasing their concern and asking them to validate or confirm that you’ve got it right. When you actually listen to your team, they will feel appreciated and that they are able to discuss any concerns that they have with you.

Get to Know Your Team Members as Individuals

The people who work with you or under you aren’t all the same. They each have different work styles and different needs. One way to improve your skills as a manager is to begin to recognize the differences in your employees. What motivates one team member might not motivate another, for example.

One way to get to know the people you work with or manage is to occasionally hold one-on-one meetings with them. You don’t want to go overboard with the individual conferences, but it’s important to check in with your team every now and again (such as every quarter or once a year at a minimum).

Scheduling individual conferences doesn’t just give you a chance to get to know your team members. It also gives them a chance to bring up and share any concerns they have with you, either about a current project, their status with the company or any other issues they might be experiencing.

Part of being a great manager is being able to anticipate and meet the needs of your team members and knowing who excels at what. Taking the time to really get to know people will help you best play to everyone’s strengths.

Communicate and Be Clear With Your Team

Great managers are great communicators. If communication within a team starts to slide, people begin to feel as if something’s been lost or as if they’re out there treading water, unsure of what to do next. Being clear with your team about who is responsible for what and when is another essential component of good communication.

Part of being a good communicator is regularly checking in to make sure that things are going along as they should. Another part of being a good communicator is having an open door policy with your team members. People who work for you should feel free to come with you at any time with any concerns they have about a project or even about another member of the team. You can help employees feel more comfortable communicating with you by regularly asking them how things are going.

Keep Your Distance

As a manager, it’s not your job to babysit employees or keep tabs on their every move. In fact, doing that tends to alienate and annoy people. Try to learn to keep a healthy distance from your team. Assign and delegate tasks to them and resist the urge to “check in” every minute of the day.

If you want your company to grow and succeed, knowing how to be the best manager possible is essential. The team at New Direction Capital is available to help you put together a plan for growth. To learn more about our virtual CFO services and how we can help your business, contact us today.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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One of the most challenging aspects of owning and running a business is finding funding for that business. According to the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey, 45 percent of companies applied for financing in 2016. Of those firms, 24 percent didn’t receive any financing. About 60 percent received less funding than they had requested. Among the reasons for not receiving the financing applied for were weak business performance, high amounts of existing debt, low credit scores and not enough collateral.

While banks and credit unions are common sources of financing for businesses, they aren’t the only options available today. Businesses that are having difficulty receiving funding from traditional sources might consider looking at a few non-traditional funding options.

Peer to Peer Lending

When your company applies for a loan from a bank, it’s the bank that will provide the full amount of the loan. When a company applies for a peer to peer loan, it’s often the case that numerous people, scattered across the country, will contribute a small amount towards the loan. For example, if your company would like to borrow $20,000 to invest in new equipment, it could be the case that 20 individuals would each contribute $1,000.

Peer to peer lending typically takes place entirely online. Those who wish to make loans sign up for a platform and businesses that want to receive financing also create accounts. The platforms act as intermediaries, connecting businesses to lenders (who are often individuals).

Since peer to peer loans are often for small amounts (in the tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands or millions) and because the loans are often broken up among several lenders, there is less overall risk for an individual lender. The lower risk makes it slightly easier for a business who is having difficulty receiving traditional financing to get approved for a peer to peer loan.

Microloans

When you hear microloans, you might picture an individual lending $25 or $100 to help a person in a developing country launch a small business. Although the microlending model got it start by helping people in developing countries launch businesses, it has since spread globally. Microloans (which often refers to loan amounts of up to $50,000) are now available to all types of companies.

For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) oversees a microlending program that provides loans of up to $50,000 to eligible businesses. The financing can be used to cover the cost of equipment, inventory, furniture or as working capital. It can’t be used to repay existing debts.

Several other microloan companies exist and often have specific requirements for the businesses they lend to. For example, some lenders only provide funding to businesses located in certain states or cities. Some lenders participate in the SBA’s microlending program while others do not.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has a few things in common with microloans and peer to peer lending. Like peer to peer lending, it replaces traditional banks or credit unions with individuals. Like microloans, the amount raised through crowdfunding efforts is usually on the small side. One considerable difference between crowdfunding and microloans and peer to peer lending is that the money raised through crowdfunding usually isn’t a type of debt financing. Your business most likely won’t need to repay the amount you receive.

There are a couple of different types of crowdfunding out there. The one that might be most familiar to people is the form used on sites such as Kickstarter. Individuals agree to contribute a certain amount to a campaign. In return, they receive a reward or prize, such as the new product that the business launches.

The second form of crowdfunding is equity-based. Instead of getting a reward, people who contribute to a campaign receive a stake in the company itself. How much of a stake an investor receives depends in part on the size of their contribution to the campaign.

Are any of the non-traditional financing options discussed above right for your business? The team at New Direction Capital can help you better understand your financing options and can help you choose the sources that are most appropriate for your business’ needs and growth plans. To learn more, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhen you take a look at your schedule, do you see meeting after meeting? The average employee spends about 37 percent of their working time in meetings, according to a white paper from Verizon Business and attends more than 60 meetings per month. Unfortunately, about half of the time people spend in meetings is considered time wasted. All told, time-wasting meetings cost companies around $37 billion each year.

If your default response to a new concern or project is to schedule a meeting about it, it might be worth taking a new and different approach. Here are two ways to tell if a meeting is a must.

1. Does the Meeting Have a Clear Goal and Agenda?

Many employees have spent hours in meetings that seem to wander from topic to topic, without any concrete plans or any clear goals. Before you schedule a meeting, it’s important to determine if the meeting has a clear goal. Ask why you are calling the meeting and make a list of a few concrete objectives that you hope to get from it.

Creating an agenda for the meeting is also a must. Without an agenda, there’s a real risk for things to veer off course and for the meeting to jump from topic to topic, never accomplishing its goal. Along with creating a list of topics for the meeting and a schedule, decide how long it will last and who absolutely needs to be there.

2. Does Everyone Need to Be in the Same Room?

Another thing to ask when deciding whether a meeting is a must or not is if the topics or issues you want to discuss require multiple people in the same room at the same time. Often, you can accomplish what you’d dedicate a meeting for with a quick phone call or email. For example, if your company is working on several projects, you don’t need to gather the managers of those projects into a room together to give you updates. It’s much more efficient for managers to send you a weekly email with updates.

What to Do Instead of Meetings

Many alternatives to the traditional meeting exist. As technology makes it easier and easier to keep in touch, more and more alternatives will appear. Using email and having people send you status reports and updates is one option for replacing meetings, but it has the potential of becoming its own problem. Feeling the need to constantly check email or fielding replies that simply read “OK” or “thanks” can also eat into your team’s productivity.

Another alternative to meetings it to schedule short (5 to 10 minute) calls or video conferences with individuals. During those calls, ask the person to give you any updates but keep the chit-chat and conversation short. Calls or video conferences are preferable to meetings not only because they are potentially much shorter, but also because they eliminate the need to pack up your papers and move to another room. You can stay in your office and return immediately to your work once the call is over.

For ongoing projects, one alternative to regular meetings is to use messaging or chat services like Slack or Google Hangouts. Instead of bringing everyone into the same room once a week, people can open the chat service and check in with each other with any updates or questions they have.

Improve the Meetings You Do Hold

Although you can find alternative ways to communicate instead of a meeting in a lot of cases, sometimes, meetings are unavoidable. Setting some ground rules can help you get the most out of the meetings you do have to have and can help you avoid wasting your time and everyone else’s. For example, never hold a meeting without an agenda. If the person organizing the meeting doesn’t send out an agenda at least a day before the meeting, ask them to reschedule it.

It can also be useful to have a policy for lateness. Agree that if the person who called the meeting doesn’t show up within five minutes of its start time, the meeting will be canceled. It’s not fair to your team to make them wait around for 15, 30 or even 60 minutes.

Meetings can really eat into your company’s productivity and affect its ability to grow. To learn more about how to make the most of your team’s time and avoid pointless meetings, contact New Direction Capital today.

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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