Sell­ing your business

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Kath­leen Be­g­ley Colum­nist

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@write­com­pa­ny­

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