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CEO Advisor® Newsletter
October 2016
Start Now to Prepare to Sell Your Business Next Year

Are you seriously considering selling your business next year? Do you believe that business valuations, the stock market, and commodity prices have peaked and rising interest rates will bring an end to the current eight year economic cycle?

The bad news is that if you want to sell right away for the maximum value, you should have started the selling process six months ago when valuations were rising and starting to peak. The reality is that it takes time to prepare for and sell a company, especially a smaller company as there are far fewer potential acquirers of a small company of $5 - $10 million in sales than a larger company over $10 million in sales. Other factors are critical in the viability of selling such as size of the market, growth rate, industry, management team, gross profit margins, EBITDA margins, etc., but size does matter.

The good news is that a lot of business sales are occurring right now with very inexpensive money available to make those purchases, coupled with a lot of money still on the sidelines looking for solid transactions provided you have a realistic grasp of valuations.

Provided you start the sale process today, you are a couple or several months in preparation, six months to sell the business realistically, and two plus years working with the acquiring company to fulfill your commitment and receive the balance of 

your money (in the form of an Earn Out).

If the economic cycle ends with a major pull back in valuations and buyers, you may then be ten years away from an economic recovery coupled with the sale of your business and your two year commitment to the buyer. If you can't wait up to ten years for that cycle, then you need to seriously consider selling your business soon.

Provided you take the time to work with a professional business / mergers and acquisitions advisor to prepare for the sale of your business, you will undoubtedly jump to the top of the buyer's short list as an easier and more efficient sale process, and you will certainly fetch a higher purchase price.

Here are 3 proven steps to set yourself up to win when selling your company:

1. Get Your Advisory Team in Place

Your team should consist of 1) a professional business/mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advisor with deep M&A experience and expertise, 2) a corporate/transaction attorney and 3) a CPA/tax advisor also with mergers and acquisitions expertise.

Mark Hartsell, MBA, President of CEO Advisor, Inc. has thirty years of experience in the preparation and sale of small to mid-market companies, including being certified in Mergers & Acquisitions from the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania.

A business/M&A advisor is critical to:

  • Developing your exit strategy
  • Creating an effective Executive Summary and 3-year Forecast
  • Creating a PowerPoint presentation and 30-second pitch
  • Identifying a complete list of potential buyers with the proper contact information (100 - 300 buyers in order to attract 5 - 7 interested parties and 2 - 3 Letters of Intent)
  • Updating your Capitalization Table, Organization Chart and Sales Forecast
  • Initiating contacts with the many prospective buyers multiple times by telephone and email
  • Securing and negotiating Letters of Intent
  • Advising you through the arduous Due Diligence process and legal documents
  • Keeping the sale on track by working with you, your attorney, tax advisory and buyer, while you continue to run your business effectively and contributing to the sale

Your corporate transaction attorney will focus on preparing and advising you on the legal documents for a stock or asset sale and internal compliance documents, and your CPA/tax advisor will provide upfront advice and estimates on tax issues and navigate the best path for the least tax burden, and your business/M&A advisor will be needed for all the above bullet points and more.

Clearly, your advisory team is paramount as you should not sacrifice running your business where your expertise lies, and trying to handle the approximately one hundred tasks above if this is not your expertise. Additionally, your business / M&A advisor needs to be a negotiator and bad cop, while you remain the good cop enabling you to close the transaction as a key (likeable) player in the acquiring business going forward.

2. Start Your Preparation Game Plan Early

Your business/M&A advisor will be instrumental in working with you to get your business to optimal value. The length of time this preparation takes depends on your preparedness at the start of this process, but don't waste time trying to do the preparation on your own if this is not your specific skill set or expertise.

Having an understanding of the selling process is key. Understanding valuations, what your role will be, having your exit strategy in place, financial reporting, sales reporting, forecasting and other aspects of your business are critical. Your business/M&A advisor will work with you on all of these areas of your business and more to ensure the optimal opportunity to complete a sale and to maximize your valuation.

3. Valuations, Tax Issues and Other Critical Issues

Have your business/M&A advisor research recent valuations and comparables in the market to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are realistic. Of course, your company is unique and has its competitive advantages, but buyers are sophisticated and have a fairly rigid process in how they value and acquire companies. You need to understand the sale process, as well as, be realistic about valuations and terms in today's market.

No one is going to pay you 100% cash up-front and send you to the beach for the rest of the year. Price and terms are critical to every deal and your business/M&A advisor will play a key role in negotiating both price and terms throughout the sales process. Tax issues are also critical so discuss a realistic sale price with your tax advisor, explain your corporate structure and whether you are a C corporation, S Corporation or LLC and gain input on the tax burden scenarios as a stock sale vs. an asset sale.

These 3 important steps will ensure that your many years of hard work translate into an optimal opportunity to realize your life's dream and gain the largest payday of your life. Contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, President of CEO Advisor, Inc. at (949) 629-2520 to discuss your growth capital options, valuation and exit strategy in a no cost, no obligation meeting at your office.  Contact Mark by email at or visit us at for more information.

Invest in Yourself and Your Business

As a business owner and CEO, you selectively make investments in your business on an on-going basis - meaning you invest in yourself! Given today's low interest rates and other stagnant investments, investing in yourself and your business may generate the largest return on any investment you can make anywhere on this planet.

Investing in yourself and your business enables you to dictate your future and your success. Investing in yourself and your business also enables you to increase sales, profits and the value of your business toward an exit and the largest payday of your life.

Different than investing in real estate, bonds or equities, investing in your business is the key to your success provided you have the proper road map to achieve your goals.

Don't go it alone - this may be the most important step of your life. Meet with a business advisor to discuss the steps below.

Here are 5 steps you can take right now that will pay tremendous dividends:

1. Strategic Direction
The direction of your business is critical to your success. Now is the time to re-assess, strategize and review the year-to-date progress and make adjustments for the new year. Growing 10% year after year is not a gauge of success, and certainly will not increase the value of your business. Approach the next year with a productive plan and clear strategy and sales focus to ensure success in 2017. For a dozen years, CEO Advisor, Inc. has helped CEOs create strategies for increased sales, profits and business value.

2. Set Your Goals
Establish clear near-term and long-term goals for your business. Create and prioritize tasks and deadlines around what is needed to accomplish these goals. Then, assign personnel, management or advisors to ensure timely completion of these tasks and projects. This can be one of the best investments you can make.

3. Review the Numbers
Create key metrics for your business that will clearly tell you if you are on track to achieve results. Review your financials and make sure to understand them thoroughly so you can address inquiries on specific aspects of your business and make needed decisions based on your financials. Track these key metrics monthly (in real-time if possible) as a critical step in the health, growth and success of your business. Defining and tracking these key metrics will substantially increase sales and profits, enabling you to make faster and improved decisions. CEO Advisor, Inc. regularly assists CEOs in setting up these key metrics to drive success, and can help you analyze your financials and provide feedback on how to maximize your valuation.

4. Focus
If you are not sure where you're going, you will never get there. Focus on your highest priorities and document what needs to be accomplished, who will accomplish them and when these priorities must be accomplished by. Focus on what meets prospects and customers' needs, drives sales and profits, and builds value in your company.

5. Invest in Needed Advice
The business issues above are just some of the more critical issues that you must tackle every day. The impact on your business, your life, your bottom line, your cash flow and the value of your business is tremendous. A trusted, seasoned business/M&A advisor can be the difference in your business success and achieving your life's dreams of a successful exit.

Contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO of CEO Advisor, Inc. for a no cost initial consultation at (949) 629-2520, by email at or visit us at for more information.


"As a President of a mid-size technology company, I have been very pleased with the services provided by CEO Advisor®. He contributed in many areas, but identified marketing and sales as our primary need. His guidance and contributions have been invaluable in establishing and maintaining a meaningful marketing and sales program for the company. He is a knowledgeable business advisor and a pleasure to work with."
CEO/President, Engineering Services/Manufacturing Company

"CEO Advisor played an important role in acquiring the right type of growth capital and continues to be a valued resource as we expand into additional markets."

CEO, Software Company

"Mark Hartsell and CEO Advisor, Inc. provide a unique advisory service for CEOs. He not only tackles high level strategic issues to assist CEOs navigate through challenging times, but Mark also gets very involved in actually addressing important issues head-on by performing the work to achieve tangible results.

Whether it is growing a business to the next level, turning a distressed company around or preparing a company for an exit, Mark's firm, CEO Advisor, Inc, provides a broad range of services and Mark is there for the CEO every step of the way."



Haynes & Boone, LLP

Words of Wisdom

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now."

Alan Lakein
Business Author

"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."

Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker

"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."
Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker
"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."
Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker

Prime Minister of the U.K.