• Meet the author


    Eric R. Voth

    Like you, I have experience as an independent business owner.

    During the course of my career, I’ve been personally undertaken …

    • The startup of 10 independent businesses.

    • The purchase of five independent businesses.

    • The sale of five independent companies (two of which were actually mergers).

    • The startup of four franchise operations.

    • The loss of my investment in four independent businesses that were unsuccessful.

    These experiences allow me the unique perspective of being able to empathize with you as you contemplate the sale of your company. I’m familiar with the mix of feelings and emotions that sometimes accompany such thoughts. I’ve had them myself.

    This introduction is designed to acquaint you with my background as an “in-the-trenches” business owner. Perhaps you can identify with some of my experiences.

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    Does your company have curb appeal?

    Remember the first rule of real estate? Location, location, location. Add “curb appeal” to the top of the list. That applies to home and office. So when you’re thinking about selling your company, you need to think about how the place looks when it’s time to show it. My book, How to Sell Your Privately Owned Company, offers tips to help freshen up your business’s curb appeal. Here’s an excerpt:

    Think about your house: the place you may have left several hours, unmade beds, and unfinished projects ago. Would it look appealing, smell appealing, feel appealing to a prospective buyer? Would it be the kind of place that someone would want to raise a family in, bring friends to, feel comfortable in?
    Could it sell itself? Or would you need to do a little explaining, a little blushing about the peeling paint, the leaking faucets, the unkept lawn, the cracked window, the noisy neighbors? Would you have to make excuses for things? Justify your asking price? Take less than you intended or needed?
    Would it “show” better if you had a little time to get it ready? Sure.

    Time to fix things up

    Jeffrey D. Jones, president of Advanced Business Brokers in Houston, says, “It generally takes, on average, between five to eight months to sell most businesses. Keep in mind that an average is just that. Some businesses will take longer to sell, while others will sell in a shorter period of time.”

    Many businesses may take up to one year to sell

    However, the reality is that many business owners really don’t do anything to prepare for the sale until a few weeks or even days before putting it “in play” on the market. They mistakenly think that the business can sell itself, much in the same way that a home is bought merely after a drive-by.
    What would a buyer see in a drive-by of your business?

    What would his first impressions be of your:
    • Parking lot. Is it in poor repair? Are the shrubs overgrown? Do you have enough space for employees, handicapped persons and visitors? Is there trash on the lot’s surface?
    • Entrance way. Has it been swept, shoveled? Does it give a neat appearance of your business? Is it easy to find from the parking lot?
    • Reception area. Is there one? Is it neat and clean? Are visitors greeted quickly and with courtesy? Who else is in the waiting area?
    • Employees. What are they doing? Are they busy, talking, waiting around, drinking coffee? Do they acknowledge the visitor? Are they smiling? Are they neat, clean, well-presented? Are their desks and filing areas neat or cluttered?
    • Cosmetic appearance. How is the lighting? Do the walls need paint? Is the carpet worn? Does everything look “dated?”

    You’ll find a checklist in the book to review the points you’ll need to review, as well as many other secrets to selling your company effectively.

    Copyright © MMIX by ERV Productions Inc. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.

    Eric R. Voth has been a successful business owner and seller since the 1970s. Among other enterprises, he is currently owner of ERV Productions Inc., and author of How to Sell Your Privately Owned Company.


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