Selling your business
Kim Kardashian has nothing on me. Wait a minute, that’s not quite true.
My lean physique hardly measures up to the reality TV star’s eye-popping voluptuous body. My always thin, short hair pales in comparison to her glossy long locks. And my makeup is positive amateurish measured against her professionally contoured face. But wait! I am up to speed with Kardashian on one thing. Sort of.
I have a bitmoji. It’s a computer application in which I appear in cartoon format in countless drawings ready to send via text message to family, friends and colleagues.
Who cares that Kardashian developed her own bitmoji and sold it for a bazillion dollars? I got mine from another company, who maintains all rights.
Nevertheless, I love, love, love my bitmoji.
Feeling ill? Let me know and I will send you a bitmoji of myself telling you to get well.
Celebrating your birthday? As long as I have your cell phone number, I will you a cartoon version of me wishing you a happy one.
Wondering where I am? Guilty that I am keeping you waiting for our appointment, I will text you a bitmoji saying that I am on my way. And get this. All the bitmojis — which are free — depict me in all sorts of situations: falling asleep in a lounge chair, eating Mexican food, riding a horse.
Amazingly, all I had to do to create my avatar was enter information such as eye color and fashion preferences a single time.
In my view, the application is pure genius.
And so does Snapchat, which bought the firm earlier this year for a whopping $100 million.
The major recipient of this bounty was Jacob Blackstock, a Canadian who spent seven years developing the amazing technology behind bitmojis. The mobile app was released to the general public in 2013.
Blackstock calls his product “YouTube for comics.”
Over the years, I have met dozens of small business people wanting to sell their companies for seven figures. Who wouldn’t? Alas, most failed. The reason is that marketing your business is a demanding job in and of itself — unless your product, like bimojis, attracts attention in the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
“Selling a business is largely about setting realistic expectations, avoding surprises and just plain hanging in there,” writes Bargbara Taylorgan in the New York Times. “It can be a very arduous journey.”
Although I have owned six different businesses, I was super successful selling only one: a wine and cheese store in Clearwater, Fla. It had a ready-made inventory. The other businesses were much less tangible.
If you want to sell a business, here are some tips:
• Start early. If you know you eventually want to move on, begin years ahead of time to make your enterprise desirable. An essential is to keep down start-up and other early expenses so you can reflect bigger profits to potential buyers.
• Hire an accountant. Many small business people make the mistake of going it alone in terms of money. Stop. Although programs like Quickbooks certainly help in day-today financial matters, professional certified public accountants are worth their weight in gold in tax season. They will help you keep money, which ads to your desirability.
• Track economic news. Back in 2008, when the entire U.S. economy tanked, I daresay few people got top dollar when selling their business. So try to jive your sale with an overall jump in the stock market and other economic indicators.
• Think turn key operation. I know three dentists who made a killing selling their practices. They all had the latest equipment and a competent staff. As a result, their buyers were able to open their doors and make money from day one. Sound like a good selling point? You bet.
• Create unique products. Companies who have patented technology are miles ahead when it comes time to selling. Think about it. If others can easily replicate your business, they have absolutely no reason to buy yours. A case in point: therapists who have little more than office furnishings.
• Beware intangibles. Over the years, I have met dozens of small business people who thought their reputation as landscapers or plumbers was worth a fortune. Usually, it’s not. Even if you stay on as an advisor, customers will detect a change in your former
business in very little time.
• Consider a broker. Selling your business requires different skills than selling your products and services. For one thing, customers who buy items in your gift shop or clothing store rarely are the same folks who will purchase your operation. Although you have to give a cut of sales proceeds to agents, you may wind up ahead of the game by getting a higher price. Maybe not $100 million, but higher than nothing. Kathleen Begley of East Goshen owns Write Company Plus. She gives communications seminars and writes for business publications. In entertaining and informative training sessions, Begley helps clients achieve success by teaching them ways to present with confidence, write without stress, deal with difficult people – and more. She has taught at 12 colleges and universities around the nation, including the MBA program at Penn State. Begley produces this column packed with news-you-can-use tips every Sunday in the Daily Local News. She responds to all reader feedback. You can reach her at KBegley@writecompanyplus.com.