Make sure you have a team supporting you during the deal process.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. “Timing is critical,” says Hank O’Donnell, President of Positive Traction LLC, a Entrepreneurial Leadership Team coaching firm. “If you lose an opportunity, it may never come again. Market conditions often dictate the best time to sell.”
  2.  Keep the customer at the core. This applies during a transaction or not, says Dando. “The customer is depending on you to add value and so if that’s already built into the way you operate, it’s going to help during the deal too.”
  3. Don’t take your eye off the ball. O’Donnell recommends CEOs schedule at least 50% of their time to the deal. Too often, owners get distracted by a transaction and then see see a downturn in sales or other adverse consequences — which can have a serious effect on valuation. “If you’ve done right by your hiring, you need to lean on your C-suite during a transaction. The business of doing a deal becomes a full-time job,” says Jack Gelman, a Vistage Chair in New York. “I’ve seen many situations where owners have taken their eye off the ball — their trailing revenue suffers, and it’s reflected in the purchase price. Some buyers even get scared away.”
  4. “Structure is crucial. Have regular disciplined check-ins with your management team. The urgency of the deal is important, but it can quickly overcome the operational issues of the business. You need to delegate as much as you can. Slowly bring key members into the process.”
  5. Stay away from secrets. “If you’re going to share that you’re going through a transaction with your employees, depending on how open your organization is, my advice would be to keep people informed,” says Dando. “If you try to keep a secret, it adds another layer of complexity. I strongly encourage you to have a contingency plan in that case, because it will leak. Even when people sign NDAs, it always leaks. Think about whether you want to be on the front end telling people, or the back end reacting.”
  6. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. “No deal and no promise is done until there’s actually ink on the paper. There are so many things that can go wrong up to the transaction being completed,” says Gelman.
  7. Temper your expectations. When thinking about valuation, remember that “you don’t get paid on sweat equity,” notes Ken Proctor, a Vistage Chair in Houston, Texas. “Sure, you built this business, and that sounds really nice. But it’s not worth anything. I would have appreciated somebody telling me that at the beginning of the process.”
  8. Look your buyer in the eye. “The single biggest thing an owner has to do is sit across the table from the person he’s selling the company to,” says Akin. “Get all of the decision makers together and hash it out. Both sides need to spend time with each other to establish a comfort level and ease any concerns. Constant communication is absolutely key.”