Tools to Increase Your Business’ Value, For Free!
This article is dedicated to all my clients, past, present and future.
Finding the appropriate price for a business can be a challenging task, but in most cases there will be a portion of the price derived from the performance (finances) of the business and another portion allocated to goodwill. For those of us new to the term, goodwill is used to describe the intangible assets a business has. Some examples could be a well established brand, a returning customer base or proprietary technology.
Now the question is, how do I maximize this value?
Here is a list of free (yes, FREE!) tools to help you stay on top of your business performance, boost the goodwill and have buyers eager to make you an offer.
1. Maintain Clean Books.
When it comes to proving the performance of the business, you will want to ensure that your business has strong and consistent finances and that they’re clean, organized and using standard accounting practices. This can be tough if your file cabinet is a shoebox. Let me introduce you to Wave Financial.
Wave is a cloud-based financial software that provides accounting, invoicing and receipt tracking for free. This could be especially valuable for new businesses on a shoestring budget. Wave can also help with processing payments or payroll but those features require a fee to access.
2. Automate Processes.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been approached by an individual who asks if I have any business’ available that run by themselves. In our industry, this can be referred to as a unicorn and is very appealing but I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for it. However, the more processes and workflows you have that require little influence from someone the better.
Enter Zapier. This web-based software integrates almost any two apps together to automate any process your imagination can fathom. Want an email list to be automatically alerted when a new item comes for sale on your website? Automate it! Need your calendar updated with a new service request from Facebook? Automate it! The more processes you can automate and remove from key employees, especially owners, the more appealing the business becomes.
Data has become one of the most valuable assets around and every business is sitting on it’s own little mine waiting to be harvested. Having a database of previous clients opens up opportunities of referrals and possibly bring those successful sales back through the sales cycle again. To do that we need a way to keep our client list organized.
Hubspot is a web-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program that offers easy ways to import contact information, organizes it, allows you to set follow up alerts and even send email campaigns. Providing a database of clients who have already enjoyed your product or service can make a massive difference for a new owner, especially if it’s their first business.
4. Create Your Online Presence.
Building a brand has traditionally required a lot of time and money to establish. Now with the majority of consumers online and using search engines, presence has become a little easier. My #1 recommendation for any business, no matter how big or what stage you’re in, is to set up a “Google My Business” account and jump on reviews.
When you create a “Google My Business”, you register your business with Google which means your business will show up when someone searches for your product or service in your area. What’s more important, is that you ask your customers for a Google review at the end of EVERY transaction. Most people want to be reassured that they’re making the right choice so if they see two competing companies offering the same thing, you can bet that the potential customer (and buyer) will choose the competitor with the best reviews. To make it easier, you can enable Google to automatically request a review once they’ve left your store. If you don’t have a storefront, have the link on a business card or even text/email it to the customer afterwards.
5. Create a Following.
Similar to #3 and #4, creating a consistent and reliable following on social media provides another avenue for the next owner to generate revenue from. Social media can be a daunting task, especially if you’re trying to be everywhere all the time. My recommendation would be to pick the one(s) that apply to you and your industry the most, for example.
LinkedIn - Best for business to business networking.
Once you have chosen the right platform for you, continue to release content that is consistent and valuable to YOUR audience. And if the platform offers allow it, ask for reviews!
6. Operations Manual.
Now that you have all these tools in place, it’s time to document it! Spend the time to create an operations manual that outlines ALL of the tasks required for your money making machine to keep ticking. I recommend writing it in an easy to follow step-by-step process that your Grandma could successfully follow. Don’t forget to list any and all suppliers or industry contacts that are critical to your business.
To do this, I recommend Google Docs and Sheets. Free for anyone with a gmail account this cloud-based platform is available on any device that uses apps or a web browser. Additionally, you can collaborate and share the documents with others who can help outline the processes. Here is the best way to test your Operations Manual, hand it over to your manager or prized employee and leave for a month long vacation. If they can’t run the business based on the manual you made, you missed something ;)
As you can see, there are a number of free tools available to help increase the value and curb appeal of your business for future purchasers. New tools are being developed daily and I will be continually updating this list so be sure to check back regularly for the latest tools to increase the value of your business! For more information on the selling process, stop by www.robraybould.com.
All the Best!
Business Broker | Licensed Commercial Realtor®
Toll Free (888) 377-8009
Fax: (778) 484-3232
Making the Business Buying and Selling Experience Better.