Sell­ing a busi­ness? Here’s why you shouldn’t go it alone

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - JOEL SCHLESINGER To learn more about The Busi­ness Tran­si­tions Fo­rum, visit busi­nesstran­si­tions­fo­ Early bird tick­ets are on sale prior to Oct. 19.

To say Van­cou­ver tech com­pany Dy­namic Owl Con­sult­ing has ex­ceeded the ex­pec­ta­tions of its four founders is an un­der­state­ment.

Af­ter launch­ing its soft­ware, called Bon­zai In­tranet, as a ser­vice plat­form to im­prove col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion for busi­nesses, the young en­trepreneurs found them­selves work­ing long hours, seem­ingly non­stop.

“We were ex­tremely suc­cess­ful, but we wanted to pur­sue other in­ter­ests,” says Michal Pis­arek, one of Dy­namic Owl’s founders. “But we were start­ing to get burnt out.”

De­spite their busi­ness win­ning over big-name cus­tomers, the en­trepreneurs faced a ma­jor chal­lenge. They had no idea how to exit their com­pany prof­itably.

“It soon be­came ap­par­ent that this wasn’t a set of skills we had,” he says.

But they did rec­og­nize that they needed out­side help. “We ended up look­ing for an M&A (merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions) com­pany to work with.”

Many en­trepreneurs look­ing to ‘sell their baby’ don’t re­al­ize they don’t have the spe­cial­ized tools for the task. For­tu­nately, the topic of build­ing an exit team to help en­trepreneurs sell their busi­ness is among the many im­por­tant is­sues to be dis­cussed at the 4th an­nual Busi­ness Tran­si­tions Fo­rum on Nov. 7 and 8 at the Westin Bayshore.

“We’ve got a lot of dif­fer­ent ses­sions go­ing on, and this one in par­tic­u­lar will help en­trepreneurs un­der­stand the value cer­tain prac­ti­tion­ers in the in­dus­try can bring to one of the most im­por­tant trans­ac­tions a busi­ness owner will ever make,” says David Tyldes­ley, co-founder of Cube Busi­ness Me­dia, which owns and or­ga­nizes the fo­rum an­nu­ally in Van­cou­ver, as well as Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton, Toronto and Hal­i­fax.

Pis­arek will be par­tic­i­pat­ing on the exit team panel dis­cus­sion — talk­ing about his com­pany’s ex­pe­ri­ence sell­ing to an­other firm. But at­ten­dees will also learn from the peo­ple who help en­trepreneurs get the best value for their busi­ness.

Among those ex­perts is Axel Chris­tiansen, vice-pres­i­dent at Re­nais­sance Merg­ers and Ac­qui­si­tions, which helped Dy­namic Owl close a lu­cra­tive deal.

Suc­cess­fully sell­ing a busi­ness with­out out­side help is dif­fi­cult, says Chris­tiansen.

The “learn­ing curve is huge” and the chance of them do­ing it suc­cess­fully on their own — while still run­ning the busi­ness — is slim, he cau­tions. Fail­ure to en­gage ex­per­tise could leave mil­lions of dol­lars on the ta­ble, quite lit­er­ally, he adds. That’s why many busi­ness own­ers seek ad­vice from M&A ad­vis­ers.

“We’re the quar­ter­back,” Chris­tiansen says.

An M&A ad­viser guides en­trepreneurs through the process and puts them in touch with the nec­es­sary lawyers, tax ex­perts and wealth ad­vis­ers who spe­cial­ize in this seg­ment.

“You get a seam­less team as op­posed to a bunch of strangers com­ing to­gether try­ing to fig­ure it out,” he says.

Of course, many en­trepreneurs are cost-con­scious, so they may be wary about the fees. That will be cov­ered in the panel dis­cus­sion as well.

Pis­arek is cer­tainly a be­liever in the ben­e­fit of build­ing an exit team. And these days he is ex­cited about a slower pace.

“Just be­ing able to wake up and not have 200 emails from all over the world is a nice feel­ing.”

MICHAL PIS­AREK Co-Founder, Dy­namic Owl AXEL CHRIS­TIANSEN VP, Re­nais­sance Merg­ers & Ac­qui­si­tions

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