A professional service firm such as an engineering design firm or construction engineering and inspection firm can be thought of as a rocket ship. Looking at the business as a rocket ship, it gets easier to remember and share the elements of developing a successful business.
Like a rocket ship a business has two basic parts, the engines that power the ship, and the guidance systems to set course. Our rock ship has five engines and four guidance systems.
Thinking back to when you first started your firm, if you did not go through the checklist you see below formally, you did so informally.
There is nothing easy about deciding to sell the company you have poured much of your time and money into over the years. Your business was the center of your life, often coming first over everything else because you are the owner and had to get things done. Now you are ready to sell, enjoy retirement, focus on other businesses you own, or even work for someone else. Whether the decision was difficult or easy to make, you have a lot of work ahead of you.
Next on the list is finding a buyer. He or she could be closer than you think.
Businesses are being bought and sold every day. Data from the past three years show a record number of businesses sold. For the most part, owners received fair prices, and sellers were happy with the deals they made. Will that trend continue? Is now a good time for you to join the sellers and put your business on the market? Is there a definitive yes or no answer?
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
An almost infinite number of factors play into whether a business should be sold, as well as when to sell. Some are totally beyond your control. Careful analysis can eliminate others from consideration. Trusted advice will help swing some factors into the yes or no column. The biggest determinant, and one that requires more thought than you might realize, is you.
When you first dove into entrepreneurship, your initial thought may not have been to build a sellable business. Most people are driven by the "freedom" associated with self-employment, and it takes a staggering commitment to build something that is sustainable.
But, whether you're starting a new business today or have an existing one, Michael Gerber, author of The E Myth, suggests that the only reason to build a business is to sell it. This makes sense if you take emotion out of the equation, but we're human beings.
Selling something you've become attached to can be challenging and looking at it objectively might be a tall order. But every business owner would love to get top dollar when they walk away. This generally doesn't happen by chance.
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