Final Ascent’s Reach Your Peak System Overview

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Our Purpose-Driven Mission for Growth Advisory and Exit Planning Services

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  1. We leverage people, technology, tools and systems to prepare businesses for sale in a sustainable way
  2. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and active, and we inspire the next generation of business owners
  3. We bring the American Dream to life and empower entrepreneurs to take their next inspired journey
  4. Exiting your business is a process and requires a proven system that uncovers your business’s hidden value
  5. Entrepreneurship must be stewarded and guided in a systemic way, or its great value may be lost at exit
  6. We don’t exist for ourselves – we exist for entrepreneurs and their families
  7. Simply put, we help business owners structure, scale and grow their businesses in preparation for exit, generating wealth for the seller by uncovering and showcasing the business’s hidden value to buyers, maximizing the purchase price at exit.

Wondering why selling your business for what you believe it is worth is so difficult?  Tired of being told your business is not sellable?  Wondering if all your blood, sweat and tears building your business was worth it?

It’s a tough situation to be in, and we here this time and again from business owners.  Sometimes, we have to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s a silver lining.  Most of the challenges business owner’s face can be solved, and there’s good news.  Buyers are looking for key attributes that are present in valuable businesses, and when you improve your business along these lines, you increase the price buyers are willing to pay for your business.

For example, when you buy a car, there are certain features and functions you are looking for, on top of other things that make your buying decision an easy one.  Better yet, you’ll pay a premium when all of these attributes are present.  For example, if we get past the required head room, color, number of doors, leather vs. fabric seats etc., there are very important things you look for:

  • If you have kids, you’re wanting child safety locks for the doors and windows, a high safety rating in case you get in a wreck. You may also want drop down video screens, an internal WiFi network, and plenty of ways to connect devices.
  • Reliability is important, and you might want a car that is doesn’t break down often, and when it does, the cost to repair is cheaper than other cars.
  • Reputation of the brand may be important to you and what they stand for.
  • Prestige may be what you’re looking for in a luxury brand, and you’ll buy a high-end luxury vehicle no matter the price.
  • Customer service may be critical, and you want to feel like your dealership cares about you and your car when you bring it in for service.
  • Warranties and additional protection may be important to you, and you’ll want a company that has the best factory and extended warranty programs.

For most of you, you’ve bought and sold cars in the past, both new and used, so this all makes sense.  Buyers are the same way when they are looking for companies.  Some are looking for the obvious “features and functions,” like a specific industry, location, revenue size, and more.

When you get beyond the obvious, there are specific attributes that are universal in all successful – and VALUABLE – businesses.  These are the attribute that buyers are looking for, really hunting for in a pool of companies for sale.  When they find businesses that are really strong in key drivers of value, they’ll jump at the chance to purchase these companies, because they know they can scale them into much more valuable businesses.

It makes sense, then, that to maximize the value of your business when you sell it, you need to work on the same attributes important to buyers.  Because when you’re selling your business, you’re competing with other companies for sale.  You’re not alone.  Buyers are looking at lots of businesses before they make an informed decision, and they want the best company to grow.

From thousands of conversations with business owners and taking companies to market, we’ve seen many examples of why businesses either don’t sell or sell for much less than what the seller is looking for:

  • Fuzzy Math. Have you ever looked at someone’s resume you wanted to hire, and you immediately threw it in the wastebasket?  Grammatical errors, typos, inconsistent formatting, gaps in work experience, the list goes on.  And this was the opportunity for the candidate to put their best foot forward.  It’s the same with financial information that buyers use to get comfortable with your business’s past performance and future potential.  Many business owners we talk to spend very little professionalizing their financial records so that 1) they can make operational decisions in a timely manner and 2) present their company to a buyer that levels the playing field and gives the buyer comfort that financial performance is accurately and correctly presented.  Most buyers pass when they see sloppy financial records because they wonder what else is under the covers.
  • Cash Is King. We’ve all heard that, but it’s more than having cash in the bank, which is nice.  We’re talking about how well your business generates a positive cash flow engine.  We’ve seen so many businesses that have great products and services that they sell.  Their customers love them, but there’s a very real problem.  The money to buy, or build, the product goes out the door much quicker than the money coming in from customers.  Sometimes, we’ve seen a gap of 60+ days or more, and this is a killer.  As a matter of fact, think about this – for every additional product or service sold, they lose cash.  This is not good, and it definitely is not something buyers are interested in.  They know they’ll have to sink a lot of working capital into the business to keep it operating.  Let’s explain it this way.  If two like businesses are both worth $1m, and one business requires $800k of working capital to run, and the other requires $200k, which business owner get’s more of the $1m?  The one that is less costly to operate.  The one that is flush with cash.  If you’re business has a negative cash flow engine, you’ll want to fix this, because you’ll get much less for your business.
  • Owner Dependency. Buyers are searching for companies that are not dependent on their owners, because they know that growing and scaling a company is very difficult otherwise.  When a business and its owner are synonymous, the sad truth is the business may be essentially worthless.  A buyer realistically lowers the asking price dramatically or requires that the owner work several years after the sale to earn a part of the selling price based on targets that have to be achieved.  It’s not an ideal situation.
  • Doing Too Much. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Keep it simple, stupid?”  It means that simple is better, and this cannot be more true for your business. Let’s put it this way, would you rather sell less things to a lot more customers, or a lot of things to a few?  Reducing complexity and focusing your business on a smaller set of profitable products and services that your customers want is the best way to grow and scale your business.  And it really hits home with potential buyers.  They know that less complex businesses can be run by generalists and require less specialized resources and expertise, which are more expensive and require more working capital.  Buyers can scale more rapidly, concentrating their marketing efforts on fewer items that customers want to buy is a win/win, and buyers will pay more for these businesses.
  • Informal vs. Formal. “But how do I do not job?”  This is a question your team may have asked you over the years, and you may be proud of your company’s “flexible” way of doing things.  “We figure it out as we do it and customize what we do for our customers,” you may say.  There’s an ugly truth to informally doing things.  It’s very difficult to grow and scale a business this way.  Remember, strategic buyers want turn-key businesses with growth potential.  Ones that have documented policies, procedures and instruction manuals that the team uses to run the business.  They should cover accounting and finance, sales and marketing, operations, human resources, company meetings, strategic planning and more.  How can a buyer grow a business if they don’t know how the business operates?  They can’t, at least not easily, and more often than not, these buyers walk away.
  • Concentration Issues. Who doesn’t love your best friend?  Or that small group you hang out with every weekend?  I’m sure you have many fond memories over the years thinking about good times.  It works great in your personal life, but what happened when your childhood best friend moved away when you were young?  When your small group graduates from college and drifts quickly apart?  It’s the same in business, only crippling in the sales process.  When you get a majority of your products, and even labor, from one of a small number of suppliers, you present a serious risk to buyers.  What if the supplier’s quality suffers or prices go up?  Or they decide to do business elsewhere?  It’s the same thing when you have large clients that represent a lot of your company’s sales (think of customers that represent 15% or more of your revenue).  What if they go away, which happens all the time?  Oftentimes, they are more demanding and you sell your products and services to them at a lower price to get the deal, sacrificing your margins.  They tie up your resources and your time as a business owner, which may cause customer service problems with your other customers.  Buyers wonder what will happen if your sales slip if a large customer goes away.  How will they reduce the operating costs and the team if that happens.  It’s risky, so buyers will offer less to account for the risk or walk away.
  • Customer Satisfaction. We’re not talking about in the traditional sense, where you send customer satisfaction surveys periodically to your customers.  We’re talking about scores that show that your business has a high potential for growth, which is different.  Many business owners do not know truly what their customers think about their business and specifically about they products and services.  What do I mean?  Buyers are hunting for companies that have customers that like to repurchase from them and refer their business to their friends and colleagues.  So much so that they’ll pay a premium when they find a business that has a measurable high potential for growth.  If you don’t know this information, it’s important you get it.  The data is extremely valuable to you so you can improve your business, and very valuable to buyers.
  • A Strong Defense. In the Dark Ages, and in fantasy movies like “Lord of the Rings,” you see these huge dramatic castles jutting from the landscape, with huge moats surrounding them.  Kings and Queens spent no expense to defend their loyal subjects from raiding hoards.  So what does this have to do with the value of your business?  The Castle represents your company, the raiding hoards your competition, and the moat the attributes of your business brand that protect you from your competition.  What makes you unique and different from competitors out there?  Maybe it’s a package of products and services you’ve designed that allows customers to buy from you versus a number of companies.  Perhaps you sell a product suite that has different colors than you competition, as in a golf apparel store that did just that.  Maybe you’re 100% customer satisfaction guarantee for life sets you apart.  It’s all about that unique, compelling value proposition that cannot be easily copied that commands a premium or creates a loyal customer base. That’s valuable and what buyers evaluate when they’re considering buying a business.

TIPS TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR BUSINESS

  1. Track KPIs that measure value
  2. Improve financial foresight and controls
  3. Increase profitability
  4. Increase top-line, profitable growth
  5. Improve gross margins
  6. Live “lean and mean” and reduce your operating expenses (think “G&A”)
  7. Reduce your company’s debt
  8. Consider renting assets that you only use part-time
  9. Manager customer acquisition growth and figure out how to acquire new customers at half the cost
  10. Diversify your revenues by spreading is across a larger customer base
  11. Don’t be afraid to be different, which is vital for value growth
  12. Have a strong value and brand proposition
    1. How can we, as brand builders, make people’s lives better?
    2. Do our customers really believe that we care?
    3. Do we build meaningful difference?
    4. How is our company/product/service going to change the world?
    5. What makes you unique relative to your competitors?
    6. How will you know when to say “no”?
    7. How can you lower your customer acquisition cost?
  13. Produce and sell products resistant to commoditization that stand out from your competition
  14. Make research a competitive strategy – look at competitors, suppliers, strategic partners, customers, adjacent brands and more. Identify the gaps in their products and services and take advantage
  15. Help marketing empower the entire organization
  16. Identify and highlight your tangible and intangible assets
    1. Tangible Asset Examples
      1. Real estate or property
      2. Equipment or means of production
  • Inventory or stock
  1. Cash on hand
  2. Intangible Asset Examples
    1. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks
    2. Other intellectual property
  • Brand and reputation
  1. Customer loyalty or subscriber base
  1. Differentiate your business to protect against competitors
  2. Create a unique, compelling, desirable market message that resonates with customers
  3. Reduce reliance on customers, suppliers and key employees
  4. Reduce owner-dependency from your customers, employees, suppliers and other key stakeholders
  5. Generate positive cash flow
  6. Demonstrate scalability and growth
  7. Create sustainable, recurring revenue
  8. Create seamless processes and routines
  9. Improve your executive and management team
  10. Cultivate a high-quality, motivated work force
  11. Keep key employees on board – “great people build great brands and value”
  12. Make learning a value
  13. Differentiate your products and services
  14. Tidy up the business – your physical structures
  15. Tighten up loose ends – leases, contracts, agreements
  16. Mitigate your risks by putting yourself in your buyer’s shoes and presenting your company in the best light possible

INTRODUCTORY LANGUAGE OPTION #1

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It’s time to sell your business, and you’ve been told by your business broker you’re not ready for prime time. Seriously, you think? How can that be true? You’ve spent years building your business and have the scars to prove it. You’ve spent countless nights worrying about cash flow, your employees, revenue projections and more. You’ve sacrificed vacations, family time, your kid’s sporting events – all to build a legacy for your family and achieve the American Dream.

In your mind, it’s time.  You’re tired, you’re stressed, you want to retire and relax. You have no doubt you’re ready to sell… But is your business ready?

Let’s answer this question with a story to illustrate.

Picture this. You’ve decided to climb Mount Everest, which is a lot like the decision you made to start your company. Your perilous adventure is a long journey you’ve planned for months, years, to ensure you were ready to reach the summit, representing the years of effort you made growing your business. Your climb to the summit begins with the trek to basecamp at 16,000 feet where you acclimatize, then you begin ascending the summit.  You have a team of guides, Sherpas and fellow climbers with you, much like your team of managers, business advisors, family and more.

You’re finally ready to take the final ascent to the summit. It’s the last stage in a successful climb thus far, and to follow our analogy, you’re at that critical decision point to sell. Or so you thought…..

Those last 2,000 feet to the summit are fraught with danger. It’s steep, the ground is crumbly, oxygen is so thin you can barely breathe. The weather can change in an instant and turn deadly, and straight-line winds can cast you off the peak. How can you make that final ascent safely and proudly stand on the summit? In other words, what do you need to do to prepare your business for sale, creating a business that sparkles and generates maximum value for potential buyers. Put simply, how do you sell your business and achieve the highest multiples in your industry?

You need a guide who has been there many times before, who understands that exiting your business is a process and requires a proven system that uncovers your business’s hidden value.  One who’s confidently and systematically guided business owners through the steps necessary to prepare their businesses for sale.

You need former entrepreneurs and senior executives with professional CFO experience who have been down this path many times before. An experienced team who understands that cash is king and money doesn’t’ grow on trees, and that value creation is a combination of knowing where you are and what it takes to prepare your business for sale and maximize your value potential.  Someone who’s climbed the summit and surefootedly, confidently, made that final ascent to the summit.

We work hand-in-hand with our strategic consulting and exit planning team to help drive value in your business that maximizes your prices at exit, focusing on the following:

  • Multi-faceted Team Approach, leveraging CFO, COO, VP of Sales and HR expertise
  • Strategic Business Planning Review and Development
  • Financial Projections and Modeling
  • Finance and Accounting Due Diligence and Clean-up
  • Scaling and Growth Strategies
  • Geographic Expansion
  • High Growth Sales and Marketing Strategies
  • Process Documentation and Instructional Development
  • Value Creation and Exit Strategies
  • Exit Planning and Preparing Businesses for Sale
  • Post-Transaction Integration & Growth Strategies
  • Enterprise Professional Valuations

Of course, reaching the summit is only part of your journey to selling your business. You have to descend the peak as well, which can be more difficult. We’ve all seen documentaries that illustrate in graphic detail the harrowing journey of a brave climbing team that stood on the summit at over 29,000 feet, only to watch in horror as an avalanche buried the climbers to their death. Gruesome, right?

What could go wrong during the selling process is your next big hurdle to overcome.  We continually work with you as your guide to monitor progress and course correct so your business maintains and sustains the momentum and growth we’ve built through the selling process. The goal is to not only attracts multiple buyers but to generate full-ask offers to acquire your business?

So how do we do that?

The descent – phase 5 in our Reach Your Peak strategy consulting and exit planning system – has been carefully designed to ensure your business maintains the momentum and upward mobility attractive to potential buyers. All while helping you manage the buyer due diligence process, which is extensive, intrusive and time-consuming. The last thing we want to do is uncover all this value to not realize it when the sale finally happens. Honestly, what would be the point, right?

At Final Ascent, we help entrepreneurs achieve the American Dream, transforming their businesses into “ready to sell” enterprises. It’s our vision and mission wrapped into one.

We love business owners and thrive on your entrepreneurial spirit. We get up every day excited to work with people just like you. Helping you, to us, is fun, challenging, creative work all designed around our proven Five-Step Ready to Sell System.

INTRODUCTORY LANGUAGE OPTION #2

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WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU.  Building your business, starting it from scratch and clawing your way up the entrepreneurial ladder, is a time-honored journey.  Many have gone before and many will follow, but there is one constant, regardless of the industry.  At some point in time, every business will have an exit.

The question is, what will that exit be?

For some, the exit is a winding down of affairs in the hopes the owner has been prudent with their income to provide for retirement, even if it’s a fixed-income strategy.  For others, the goal is to pass their company down to their kids, the company’s managers or even their employees, carrying on a legacy.  Some owners loan the money for the next entrepreneur to buy the business, and they may even stay on as the Chairman, spending less time in the business and ensuring the future success of the company.  And still others sell their business outright to a third party, achieving the American Dream and reaching the pinnacle that so many business owners strive for.

Now on paper, this all seems easy, right? You’re an entrepreneur, so you’re used to just rolling up your sleeves and doing it.  It’s what you do.  But there’s a level of complexity here that requires more than just thought.  It requires professional expertise and guidance to not inly prepare your business for sale but maximize your value.  Buyers want companies that are thriving not surviving, and our team of strategy consulting and exit planning experts have been hand selected with significant small and lower-middle market business experience, either owning and operating their own businesses or bringing Fortune 500 executive expertise to the small business community.

You’ll work hand-in-hand with our strategic consulting and exit planning team to help drive value in your business that maximizes your selling price at exit, focusing on the following:

  • Multi-faceted Team Approach, leveraging CFO, COO, VP of Sales and HR expertise
  • Strategic Business Planning Review and Development
  • Financial Projections and Modeling
  • Finance and Accounting Due Diligence and Clean-up
  • Scaling and Growth Strategies
  • Geographic Expansion
  • High Growth Sales and Marketing Strategies
  • Process Documentation and Instructional Development
  • Value Creation and Exit Strategies
  • Exit Planning and Preparing Businesses for Sale
  • Post-Transaction Integration & Growth Strategies
  • Enterprise Professional Valuations

We’ve designed our Reach Your Peak system knowing that your time as a business owner is limited.  Incremental changes done the right way can make a world of difference in creating wealth for you and your family, and it’s our one goal.  We’re aligned to see you achieve your American Dream as you successfully prepare your business for sale and navigate the marketing and selling process to a profitable exit.

INTRODUCTORY LANGUAGE OPTION #3

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PICTURE THIS.  You’re on a beach, the waves lazily rolling on, tumbling over your toes as you sip on your favorite drink.  You’re reading again, your favorite author’s latest best seller, enjoying every page.  Your family is with you, and you see your grandkids playing in the water and making sand castles.  Laughing and being kids.  Your spouse is by your side, napping contently as the gentle breeze cools their skin.  It’s magical.

You think about the last twelve months.  The hobbies you’ve picked up again – your golf clubs are finally dusted off, and your beautiful draw from your college days is starting to come back.  Your lifelong dream to make a difference is coming to fruition, and you’re been able to donate money and time to your favorite charity.  You love helping people, and there’s nothing better than seeing your work brighten someone else’s day.

You’re mentoring other entrepreneurs now, too, which gives you great joy and satisfaction.  You’re getting to experience the excitement and energy that ripples off other business owner’s backs, and see the delight when things go well and the furrowed eyebrows and then wide eyes when your advice resonates.

Life is good.  Better than good really, and you think about when it all started.  All those years ago, when you first open the doors of your business.  When it was just you, then your spouse, then your first employee and then many.  When you changed your business’s name, then added a location and then many, when you got it right.

Your thoughts drift many years forward to the time when you thought you were ready to sell.  Such a tough decision that had been toiling in your mind those last few years.  The angst, the anxiety, the stress you felt at first.  It reminded you of when your first child went off to college, then your second, and you and your spouse were empty nesters.  Your business was like a child, your baby, and the thought of leaving it to another entrepreneur, of letting go and retiring, was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

You smile and remember the work it took to get your business built to sell.  It was more than you thought, different and the same.  You realized that preparing your business for sale was really about running and growing your business the right way.  It was about freeing up your business from you so that it could run without you.  You smile and shake your head, because that was an eye-opening experience when you realized how important that was.  About how much that one decision increased the value of your company exponentially.

You flash forward, your thoughts tumbling together, as you put your company on the market.  The first buyer inquiries, and your hurried and unpracticed responses.  Your anger when things didn’t go your way, until you realized this was part of the negotiation process.  All of the buyer requests for documentation that you really should have had in the first place.  And then the offer, the right offer, more than you could have hoped for that tapered to the right purchase price.

You remember signing on the dotted line, whimsically with an “out of body” sensation.  “Is this really happening, you thought?”  A fear gripped you for a moment – what am I going to do?  Who am I going to be?  And then you remembered your journal and the time you spent thinking about life after your company.  The beach. Family and friends.

And you came back to the present and smiled.  You did it.  Your company is thriving under its new owner, and you couldn’t be happier.

It’s a wonderful story, and it’s one you might want to be your own.  You’re a business owner, and achieving the American Dream and coming full circle like our friend above is appealing.  It’s really why you started your company all those years ago.  Not the only reason but a very compelling one when you’re ready to sell.

The questions we hear the most from business owners when they’re thinking about selling their business are these: “Is my business ready to sell?”  Or “How do I sell my business” Or “How do I prepare my business for sale?”  They’re all million dollar questions, literally, because the answers and what you do about them are the difference between retiring comfortably and beyond or simply living on a fixed income.

You see, the reality is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you have thought about selling your business but aren’t sure how to get started, you are like most business owners. The latest statistics show that nearly 50 percent of successful business owners hope to sell or exit their companies within the next five years.  That’s good news, but according to the Small Business Administration, “the primary cause for failure…is lack of planning.”

We like to tell business owners that when you’re planning to sell your business, you have to think from the perspective of a buyer.  What’s important to them about your business is much different from how you look at your company. They’re thinking about risk and reward, industry growth and the potential to scale, past performance and the future potential of your business.  They may be looking at you in comparison to your competitors, trying to get a gauge on “what could go wrong” if you’re main supplier raised their prices, reduced the quality of raw materials or simply went away.  They’re concerned about your best customer because they represent 40 percent of your revenue – what if they quit doing business with you and how that could impact your future sales and existing operating costs.

As a business owner, it’s a lot to think about, and the decisions you make now will affect the value of your company.   We like to tell entrepreneurs that the value of your company is really the price a buyer is willing to pay you for your business.  It sounds so simple, but if you’re thinking about selling and riding off into the sunset to retire, or buy another business, or invest in another venture, planning your business exit makes the best sense for you and your family.

And that is very important, probably the most important thing we can tell you.  Decisions that you’ve made as a successful entrepreneur to build your company may not be the right decisions to make when you’re preparing your business for sale.

This is the best advice we can give you, regardless of whether or not you’d like to work with us.  It’s the advice we all would have given ourselves when we sold our first businesses.  Because what you don’t know about the way buyers purchase businesses, and how they look at prospective companies to determine if they’d like to make an offer, can cost you thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.

We see it all the time.  The company that used a CPA to do their taxes, and unbeknownst to them, never filed their returns because “that was the owner’s responsibility.”  That cost the sellers six extra months to sell as three buyers walked away when this information surfaced.  Or the wildly successful creator of online flash sales through TV programs and more that attracted over 40 buyers, who all walked away because 60 percent of the company’s revenue came from one customer.  Or the 30 year old business that was the darling of the business community that sadly didn’t sell because the business and the owner were one and the same.  The business was dependent on the owner, and any interested buyers knew that they couldn’t run the company without the owner.

These situations are real, and we see them all the time.  We want every entrepreneur to achieve the American Dream, not only building their businesses but successfully exiting them as well.  The last thing we want to have happen is that the business owner is ready to sell their business and sign on the dotted line, only to feel like they left way too much money on the table.

Our brokerage services team several years ago came to us and said they couldn’t do it anymore.  They couldn’t continue taking calls with business owners that wanted to sell, but there businesses weren’t ready.  We’d hear, “Can’t we work with them?  They’re so nice?  Please, can’t we do something?”  It was heartbreaking, because sadly and simply, we couldn’t.  There businesses – their life’s toil – was not ready for sale.  We couldn’t take them to market because if we did, they wouldn’t sell.  And even if they did, they’d sell for a fraction of what the business owner wanted.

So, the business owners were left with sometimes dire choices:

  • Continue working many years after retirement to make ends meet, without the energy to grow the company and make the changes to a sellable company.
  • Give the company to their employees or a hungry entrepreneur, in hopes of receiving some of the net profits over time. While this is noble, it more than likely was not the retirement they were hoping for.
  • Close shop and do something else, which is sad because there is no legacy to leave behind, and it’s gut-wrenching because their dream, their baby, just goes away.

We know this sounds like doom and gloom, but this is the harsh reality for some business owners, and it doesn’t have to be that way.  It really doesn’t.  There is a way, and it requires time and some elbow grease, all of which you do have and you can do.

It’s why we’ve spent thousands of hours and all of our experience building our exit planning services team, to help you restructure your business in a way that prepares your company for sale.  In effect, makes your company “built to sell.”  That’s different from putting your company on the market in hopes you’ll attract a buyer.  In hopes that you might get what you want for your business.  It’s putting your best foot forward knowing that your company is running, operating and thriving, which attracts not only the right buyers, but many of them who want a business like yours.  That’s exciting, right?  It’s not only getting your business ready to sell – it’s helping you position your business so it’s ready to launch, inspiring buyers who want to grow and scale your business.  As business owner’s ourselves, this prospect is exciting.

We developed what we call our Reach Your PEAK Strategy Consulting and Exit Planning system to help the entrepreneurial community.  Our Advisory Team acts as your trusted advisor through the exit planning process as you prepare your business for sale.  The goal is to work with you to restructure your company into a “built to sell” business, maximizing your value at exit.

You’ll work hand-in-hand with our strategic consulting and exit planning team to help drive value in your business that maximizes your selling price at exit, focusing on the following:

  • Multi-faceted Team Approach, leveraging CFO, COO, VP of Sales and HR expertise
  • Strategic Business Planning Review and Development
  • Financial Projections and Modeling
  • Finance and Accounting Due Diligence and Clean-up
  • Scaling and Growth Strategies
  • Geographic Expansion
  • High Growth Sales and Marketing Strategies
  • Process Documentation and Instructional Development
  • Value Creation and Exit Strategies
  • Exit Planning and Preparing Businesses for Sale
  • Post-Transaction Integration & Growth Strategies
  • Enterprise Professional Valuations

We typically do not make wholesale changes to your business.  Think of it as polishing a diamond, or staging your house for sale when you put it on the market.  We like to think of it as physical therapy for your business.  Instead of lifting those weights the way you’ve always done, or stretching with that same routine you’ve done for years, we’re going to bring a fresh way of doing things that brings life into your business.  They’ll seem obvious after you’ve implemented the changes to your business that maximize your business value, and the positive changes resonate with prospective buyers.  They’re also best practice ways of operating a thriving business, and as a business owner, they’ll really resonate with you and get you ready for the selling process with confidence.

So, what do we do for you?  How do we help you?  Let’s talk about our Reach Your PEAK system and how we can work together to prepare your business for sale.

Final Ascent’s Reach Your Peak Business Strategy and Exit Planning System

For owners, the best practice is for them to integrate the actions of a successful transition into the way they run the business every day. Owners can accomplish this by

  • IDENTIFY VALUE. Identifying what they have now
  • PROTECT VALUE. Taking risk-mitigating actions to protect their wealth
  • BUILD VALUE. Tenaciously building value over time
  • HARVEST VALUE. Positioning the business to have multiple exit options—and, perhaps, multiple exit events
  • MANAGE VALUE. Actively and holistically managing their wealth (including the business wealth) before, during, and after the exit event (Manage Value).

Phase 1 – Identify Baseline Value

Value Creation begins with a strong accounting base.  This is the foundation of your business, and the first step in planning your exit is getting your financials in order and setting up goals and systems to track your performance.  Your financials represent not only your historical performance but the trends that drive your future projections and growth.  In order to unleash the power of your financials to make timely business decisions, this is a vital first step.  Preparing your business for sale starts with accurate and complete financial statements and records because these are used by the buyer to understand how your company is doing compared to other businesses they may be considering to acquire.

If you have a bookkeeper, that’s great news.  We can work with them when we review your financials and make recommendations to improve.  If you do not have a bookkeeper, we can set you up with one.  The goal is, if necessary, to clean-up your financial records so we have an accurate and complete picture of your financial position.  We’ll provide month-end close processing and the day-to-day structures to record your financial transactions. We now have a baseline in place to make decisions and the structure to build business value.

This phase is so critical, and it’s the cornerstone from which all effective exit planning is built upon.  Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  We like to think of your financial statements and other accounting data as the resume of your business.  They allow you to put your best foot forward only when they are complete and accurate.  You wouldn’t run a race with dress shoes 4 sizes too small, just like you wouldn’t present your company to prospective buyers with inaccurate or incomplete financials.

Phase 2 – Engineer Financial Performance

With accurate financial data and sound financial structures in place, we can now move on to driving financial performance and cash flow.  We work with you as your CFO, helping to improve your financial performance because accounting is the language of business.  We cannot help you until we understand the story of your financials, which we leverage from our work in Phase 1. The business owner and CFO work together to set up the structures to improve financial performance and ultimately increase the value of your business. Next, we dive in and figure out where you can improve, with the goal of increasing the value of your business when we take you to market. setup and track your goals, your 12-year forecast, your business key performance indicators (“KPIs”), industry benchmarks, cash flow and business planning.

The whole goal in this phase is build systems and create actions that drive financial performance. This phase is designed to build the mechanisms and roadmap to increase your business value, both in terms of profit maximization, positive cash flow and increased multiples at exit.

Phase 3 – Build Business Value (or Accelerate Business Value)

Your business’s worth is measured across key drivers of business value that are highly sought after by prospective buyers.  We’ll begin this phase by assessing your business’s sellability, obtaining a score we’ll use to determine the potential multiple your business could sell at compared to best-in-class businesses and average companies.  We’ll create and deliver an exit planning roadmap with quarterly sprints designed to improve your sellability score and uncover your business’s hidden value.  The quarterly focus allows us to stay on track to engineer and sustain a high growth strategy that improves your cash flow and your financial results to your bottom line.

In this Phase and leveraging the results of Phase 2, we’ll bring in experts as needed (COOs, sales coach, IT, HR, etc) to help you improve in each key area of business value. Remember, the goal is to increase the value of your company, so everything we do is designed with your business’s value in mind.  It’s how we stay “lean and mean,” keeping down costs as we grow profits.

It’s also important at this stage to understand key internal and external factors that affect your business performance, leveraging best practice tools re-engineered for the small and lower-middle market.  We’ll look at your strengths and weaknesses, your business opportunities and competitive threats, and we’ll analyze your competition.  What do they do well, perhaps better than you, and what could you do better to defend yourself from your competition?

We’ll also work with you to create the structures and instructions that allow your business to scale free from you, the owner, which is critical to attract strategic buyers who are looking for businesses to grow. Reducing owner-dependency and giving your team the reins to make business decisions and execute your winning business strategy is fuel for generating business value and owner wealth, a critical requirement for all businesses preparing to sell.

Phase 4 – Plan Exit Value

In Phase 4, we’re working in concert with your quarterly goals and objectives, focusing on key exit strategies that help you and your business prepare for your business sale and beyond.

We’ll begin with your wealth in mind, especially when you sell your business and have a pile of cash with no home.  It’s why wealth planning is such a vital step in the exit planning process.  We’ll work with our wealth management strategic partners to assess where you are now and what you’ll need to consider when you exit your business and retire.  You’ll learn how to structure your wealth and retirement so that you continue building and protecting it in order to transfer it to your next generation tax-optimized.

We’ll also help you manage risk before, during and after your sale by evaluating your buy/sell agreements and other sale provisions with your attorney.  Reviewing your operating agreements and other corporate documents is an important step in planning your exit, because these provisions can govern what approvals are required and by whom to approve the sale of your business. The goal is to ensure there aren’t any smoking guns that prevent a smooth transition.

We’ll also review your current life insurance plans you may have in place and determine if there are additional risk management strategies to consider in planning for life post-sale.

Phase 5 – Prepare for Sale (or Manage Value)

Sellers are often surprised when they market their businesses for sale.  Prospective buyers interested in their businesses come from all walks of life.  They’re family businesses, private equity firms, serial entrepreneurs, M&A firms, retired executives and more.  Who are your potentials buyers?  We’ll work with you first to develop a short list of buyers from your network because who you know can lead to a potential buyers.

We’ll also help you get your documents in order prior to fielding inquiries from buyers.  Buyers are sophisticated and selective in their research, and they do a lot of homework before deciding to actually buy a business.  They’ll ask for financial statements, financial and operational reports, customer lists, vendor lists, product lists, corporate documents, patent and trademarks, projections – the list goes on.  Their requests for documentation and support are extensive, which is why we conduct our own sell-side due diligence process with you before your business goes to market.

During this effort, if we spot a problem, we’ll work with you to resolve it well in advance of the sale of your business.  The goal is to identify potential “skeletons in your closet” or areas that need to be cleaned up and get them addressed and solved before buyer due diligence.  This effort streamlines buyer inquiries and navigates the selling process more efficiently. It also reduces risk in the buyer’s eyes, which is good news because buyers often pay a premium for low-risk companies.

Of course, it is so important to maintain momentum to maximize your value, so we’ll continue monitoring and adjusting your goals and objectives to achieve your growth and profit targets.  We’ll maintain your monthly financial review meetings and course correct when necessary.  We like to say that buyers are looking for companies that are thriving not surviving, and we coach you through the selling process and help reduce the inevitable seller fatigue that some sellers feel.

We’ll make sure you’re prepared, you’re ready for sale, and you’re ready to achieve your American Dream.

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