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