By Carol Gresham, CBI NWA SR. INTERMEDIARY
For the past three decades, I have seen first-hand the changing face of entrepreneurship and its continued evolution to include more and more women. Women, who are joining me as fellow business owners, are carving opportunity on their own terms. Together, we’re working to solve problems in the marketplace, create flexible solutions based on work/life needs and lean in to growing thriving businesses, adding jobs, and fueling our economies.
In fact, data shows more than 36 percent of American businesses (an estimated 13 million) are women-owned, employing 9.4 million workers, and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. Pre-COVID those numbers were growing at impressive rates. As a business owner and B2B service provider, I believe these statistics are worthy of reflection and action, especially for those hoping to grow and sell their business.
While some have cautioned against the impossible situation currently faced by these entrepreneurs amid the pandemic as they juggle business, hearth, and home, I am confident we’ll see continued adaptability, resiliency, and grit as they identify smart opportunities or find flexible solutions in our new normal.
It is no secret teams and businesses perform better and deliver stronger returns when they are more diverse. Innovation is fueled by varied voices, experiences, perspectives, and abilities. That is great for businesses and their consumers. My background includes being the COO for a national non-profit leading innovative work, Chief Development officer for a community college, founder of a relocation service business, buying and selling small franchises, and mentoring others through Cornerstones for Success. These rich experiences inform my perspective and provide added insight in my current role as a Senior Intermediary at CBI where I create six-figure to multi-million-dollar deals transferring ownership within a variety of business markets and help sellers navigate a changing buyer landscape that includes more women taking the helm. From launching my own successful and profitable company, which I owned for 14 years, to selling it to a national entity and later acquiring and growing two different business franchises, the lessons learned remain applicable for every owner.
My Measured Approach to Grow & Sell Businesses:
- The Moment to Plan for the Sale of Your Business Is the Day It Opens
While it may sound counterintuitive, it’s true. Begin with the end in mind. Look to trusted professionals who can help you plan smart ways to grow and eventually sell your business.
- Consider How Increased Diversity Can Strengthen Your Business
Consider the important role diversity can play in attracting and hiring employees, engaging customers or developing products or finding new markets. Find ways to extend your network, engage new voices, shine a light on others, become a mentor to other women or minority-owned businesses. The old saying rings true: you get what you give.
- Buyers Aren’t Buying Past Success; They Are Buying Future Potential
Show them the future potential of your business and how it has boundless opportunities to grow and thrive in current or new markets. As the current owner, you know better than anyone what the obstacles might be and more importantly where the mountaintops are. Help them envision what the future will be by creating a business roadmap that encompasses 3-5 years. Describe the future potential and the growth opportunities with simple improvements, new marketing or added products. Your roadmap can help the prospective buyer see the long-term vision.
- Sell While You are Successful
As a long-time business owner and entrepreneur, I have learned a lot of lessons. Selling a business on my own terms meant creating a plan and acting on it before there was a crisis, the business faltered or worse, I was impacted by unexpected illness or injury.
- Now Is the Time
Simple steps now can reap rewards in the future. Leaning on expert advice about growing or selling your business is an important first step. Daily our office receives inquiries from smart investors with capital ready to invest. The market remains active with buyers seeking strong businesses. Yours could be the one for which they’re searching! Simply put, take a measured approach to grow and eventually sell your business. And, when you are ready to take the first step, I am ready to walk by your side.