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Selling Your Business - Don't Underestimate the Value of
your Company's Web Site by Dave
Business owners often contact us requesting an introductory meeting.
They are contemplating the near to intermediate term exit from
their business. The meetings generally have two major themes:
1. The beauty contest – they want to interview merger and acquisition
firms or business brokers to evaluate their qualifications and
process in comparison with other competitors and 2. Preparation
for Sale – what should we be doing in anticipation of putting
our company on the market?
One of the questions I ask on their first phone call is, “What
is your Web Site address?” As a potential advisor, I want to go
to their site and find out all I can about their business in preparation
for the first meeting. If they respond that they do not yet have
a Web Site, I already know what my top priority recommendation
is in response to their questions on preparing their business
The spectacular growth of the Internet powerhouses Google, Yahoo,
and Ebay should convince you that the Internet is dramatically
changing the way America does business. Think about your own buying
habits. It is so convenient to type in a few key words and have
a world of choices presented on your computer screen. Try this
simple exercise. Do a Google or Yahoo search of some key words
or phrases that a potential customer of your business might use
if they were searching for a vendor of your products or services.
Does your web site come up? Click on some of the sites that come
up on the first page of the search. Look at their Web Sites. Do
you think they are getting additional business based on their
search result success? Bet on it!
If you had asked me three years ago if I thought that a business
owner would hire our firm based on finding us on the Internet,
I would have said no. In the last quarter we have gotten two new
engagements based on a client’s initial Internet search. It does
not matter what type of business you run, you simply must have
a Web presence. At the very least your company should have a Web
Site consisting of “brochure ware”. That is very simple and inexpensive
to implement. Brochure ware is simply taking your company’s collateral
material and putting it up on a Web Site. If a buyer is evaluating
several potential acquisitions, the absence of a Web Site will
be perceived as a negative.
If you are able to integrate your Web Site into your customer
service, ordering, order status, documentation, training, etc.,
(eCommerce) your investment could pay huge dividends when you
sell your business. The new reality is that it is considerably
more cost effective to conduct eCommerce than traditional commerce.
The big payoff comes when potential buyers perceive your eCommerce
initiative as scaleable. My translation of this over used term
is that a large increase in sales can be accomplished with a small
increase in fixed costs. Buyers pay for the potential you create
in your business. Buyers make acquisitions to grow and if that
growth can be accomplished with improving margins, your selling
price will go up.
In real estate, the largest dollar for dollar return on investment
for the home seller is their expenditure on landscaping. As a
potential business seller, think of your investment in a Web presence
in the same light.