Selling Middle Market Businesses

One of the best ways to understand the dynamics of selling a business is to read about actual cases.

The Kayak Company

Begin with the End in Mind

Seller had a dream and a written business plan in which he projected a kayak company to become a leader in the recreational family kayak market in 5 years. He would sell the company and go onto his next vacation.

Fast forward 5 years

The company had been successful selling thousands of kayaks per year.

An Intermediary was hired to sell the business.

The business was profitable with a branded product.

With a well-documented offering memorandum, the Intermediary went to market by approaching all the obvious potential buyers in the marine and sporting goods business. The kayak market was growing rapidly, and had overtaken the traditional canoe market in annual volume. Most large corporate buyers seeking acquisitions require sellers to be ranked in the top 3 in the industry.

The Intermediary identified several individual buyers who had the financial resources to complete the transaction. Two prospective buyers submitted Letters of Intent that met Seller’s requirements. One of the offers received by an individual originated through the Internet.

The Value of an Intermediary

By hiring an Intermediary, Seller was not distracted in running the business. It was important Seller achieved its sales projections because the Sales Price expectations for the business were based on achieving these projections.

Selling a business often takes patience and perseverance.

If starting or acquiring a business should begin with the end in mind.

The Manufacturer

Overcoming the Difficulty

Manufacturers are considered a significant part of the economy. For many centuries, the typical manufacturer was a single skilled artisan with assistants. Each artisan kept the secrets of the production and transferred the knowledge only to apprentices. Technological advancements enable the mechanization of production processes, as well as improve overall efficiency and productivity.

Yet, in spite of their profitability, manufacturing businesses can be difficult to sell. The owner, who is the business, wants to retire immediately after completing the transaction.

On sales of >$1m, the owner’s SDE $480K

  • The business was growing
  • The business was relocatable.
  • The business was virtual.
  • The financials were audited.
  • The company was successfully sold.
Lessons Learned
  • Do not assume because a business is profitable and reasonably priced, it is easily saleable.
  • Extreme customer concentration and dependence on the retiring owner are issues which must be addressed and put to terms for prospective buyers.
  • Without an intermediary, the Seller admits his business would not have sold.