ALL Businesses Need an EXIT Strategy

To suddenly realize you are at the point of wanting to exit your business, without really taking the time to prepare for the sale can be a huge and costly mistake. ALL businesses regardless of their size or type must have a competent EXIT STRATEGY! Some successful entrepreneurs choose their business carefully and plan an exit strategy from day one so when it is time to sell their business, they can make a profit.

Here are 14 various options to operate a business until the end:

1. Pass the business on to a family member

Did you know that more than 65% of family owned businesses do not survive to the second generation? This is why planning ahead is very instrumental. Family members are good starting point when you are looking for potential successors. To consider family in an exit strategy, make sure all intra-familial jealousies and rivalries are resolved since these will undermine any smooth transition and ensure the eventual demise of the company. Don’t just look into your immediate family, choose the best candidate regardless.

2. Sell the business to a partner

A partner typically knows the business the best and will most likely continue to grow and operate the business. When choosing this option, you may have to be flexible with your terms and in some cases even carry seller financing. This should not scare you since you believe in your business and your partner’s ability to continue operating the business successfully.

3. Merge with another company

Rather than selling your business entirely, there is always a possibility of merging with another company in the same business (Horizontal approach) or with your supplier or competitor (Vertical approach).

4. Sell the business to your employee

A current employee knows the business and more likely to preserve the business. To prepare for this, you may start selling shares in your company to your employees. One advantage of this is that regardless of number of shares you sell, you can still run the company as long as you desire even if you are no longer a majority shareholder. There are also tax benefits with this option, since you can defer capital gain taxes if you sell at least 30%.

5. Sell the business to a competitor

This might sound terrifying but when it’s time to sell, selling to a rival might be the best option since they are in the same industry and are aware of the growth potential of your business.

6. Take the business public

Offering company stock to the public is certainly a great wait to raise capital. Your business may need some reorganization before going public.

7. Sell to a qualified buyer

Having a qualified, able, ready and willing buyer who has prior employment or managerial experience is essential to a successful sale. A knowledgeable Business Broker can be invaluable in this process.

8. Sell to your trusted friend

A trusted friend similar to a family member has known you for years and appreciates the time and effort you have put into growing this business and would like to see its continued success and growth.

9. Sell your business to your accountant or lawyer

Both your accountant and lawyer are aware of true facts and figures and assets about the company and can put together a fair deal.

10. Sell your company assets

Rather than selling your business entirely, you may want to restructure and sell portions of your business and its assets.

11. Give your business to a charity and take a tax write-off

This will give you a great degree of personal satisfaction. Please consult with a financial advisor prior to choosing this option to ensure no negative fall-outs.

12. Run the business until the end

If you choose this option you are allowing fate to decide when you should quit.

13. Take a loss on your investment

In some cases, taking a loss on your business and letting it go bankrupt might be the best option.

14. Take on an advisory role

Consider a merger or acquisition that will allow you as the owner of the business to take an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition to a new buyer. Advisory roles offer a company owner a way to exit gracefully when it’s time to retire or due to a sudden illness.

Regardless of which option you choose, never simply just close the doors and walk away. Just remember that even if your company is losing money, YOU CAN STILL SELL YOUR BUSINESS AND MAKE A PROFIT!!!

For additional information, please contact Azi Manoussi, Business Broker at Prudens Business Advisors 310.622.8777 or [email protected]

Finding The Best Small Business Scheduling Software

If you operate a business where you schedule appointments, class attendance, consultations, seminars, workshops, or any other type of event from which you earn revenue, it is critical that you use easy-to-use, yet powerful and interactive small business scheduling software.

I also encourage, if it’s possible with your business, to look for scheduling software that enables your customers to schedule themselves.

This not only makes your life easier, but is an outstanding website conversion tool. What I mean by this is new customers to your website can instantly book themselves for your service. No phone calls or any other obstacles that might lose the sale.

Ask Yourself:

When you book a customer, how much time does it take? Yeah, scheduling customers and clients takes time – yours and/or your staff’s time. How about the time you spend playing phone tag just to book an appointment?

That’s why if you can set up software where your customers can book their own appointments, you’ll free up a great deal of your time. You’ll also be offering a very worthwhile customer service (and impress them). Even if only 1/3 of your bookings do it themselves, you’ll be way ahead – and probably book more clients than otherwise.

The fact is in today’s fast-paced world, customers want immediate gratification. If your phone line is busy or you have to put customers on hold, you could lose that booking. Why not eliminate those losses and poor customer service with implementing online scheduling?

How Does Online Scheduling Work?

It’s simple, and you don’t have to worry about giving up control of your schedule with the right business scheduling software.

There are different uses of scheduling software – it depends on your business

1. Simple Schedule Viewable Online

Some businesses, such as yoga studios, dance studios, martial arts schools, and health clubs may simply wish to display class schedules on their website(s).

The key is getting scheduling software that makes it incredibly easy for you to change the schedule in one central location – which changes then appear on your website(s). Let’s face it, class times, instructors, etc. change regularly.

Instead of displaying your schedule in a fixed table on different pages in your website(s), which is inconvenient to change, use a central schedule dashboard where you can easily make changes.

Have you ever forgotten to change the schedule on your website? When you maintain separate schedules, it’s very easy to forget to update your schedule on your website(s). I don’t have to tell you how customers feel about being misinformed and relying on an out-dated schedule.

Solve this problem by using scheduling software you manage in one easy-to-access location – which updates all your schedules wherever posted.

Moreover, look for scheduling software that let’s you present pop-up descriptions of your classes and perhaps brief bios of the instructor teaching particular classes. The more information you place where it’s easy to find for your customers, the better service you’re providing.

2. Self-Booking Capability

Other businesses require customers to schedule appointments or reserve rooms/facilities. Examples of these types of businesses include hair salons, spas, tattoo parlours, massage therapists, physical therapists, etc. Take yourself as much as possible out of the booking process by getting scheduling software that enables your customers to book their own appointments.

The process is simple with the right software. Your customers register and you provide them log-in information to your online scheduling system. Once logged in, your customers see only availability and then book in available time-slots. Moreover, you then add a contact to your database.

Online booking puts the scheduling power into your customers’ hands. If they need to change an appointment, they can easily do so without taking up your time.

What Other Features to Look for With Business Scheduling Software?

1. Look Only For Cloud Computing Scheduling Software

Without a doubt, the most important feature to look for with business scheduling software is that it’s cloud-based. This means the software you use is hosted with the service provider.

A classic example of cloud-based software is Google Docs. You simply log in to your Google account and use their fleet of document-producing software (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.).

I’ve used desk-top scheduling software and like most desk-top software, it costs much more in the long run, and is very difficult to add new users (i.e. adding computers to the network).

The bulk of the long-term cost with desk-top software is paying a tech consultant to network the software among your computers. Moreover, your scheduling software is not available anywhere – only on computers on which it’s installed. Don’t even think about the cost when you upgrade computers or if you use a server.

Cloud computing solves all these problems because all you need is an Internet connection in order to access your software dashboard. You don’t have to pay for networking, installation, and/or have a server. Instead, most cloud-computing software services simply require a monthly payment for access. It’s easy to scale up – you simply add new users to your account. Your cost only increases as your business grows.

2. Get E-Commerce and Credit Card Payment Processing Integration

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could have customers pay upon self-booking their appointments? This frees up you and your staff from two time-consuming activities – booking appointments and taking payment.

Moreover, you can book appointments if you’re busy, thus reducing lost appointments. Often saving one booking will pay for an entire month’s software cost. Not to mention gain you another potentially loyal customer.

If you’re looking to get top-of-the line scheduling software, look for software that can process payments automatically upon a booking.

3. E-Mail and Text Messaging Reminders & Notices

Do you and your staff send out appointment reminders via e-mail and/or text messaging? This too is time-consuming. Maybe you don’t do this because you’re too busy – but wish you had the time or resources to send out reminders to reduce no-shows.

When deciding on scheduling software, be sure to opt for the capability for automated reminders. Yes, this is available. Once you have a customer’s contact information in your system, and a customer books an appointment, you can set up the software to automatically send e-mail reminders and text messaging reminders about upcoming appointments.

This serves three very important functions:

  • You’ll provide a great service reminding your customers about their upcoming appointment;
  • You’ll reduce no-shows; and
  • If a customer realizes they can’t make an appointment, they can re-schedule. This frees up appointment space which you can fill from your wait-list.

Speaking of wait-lists – with the right software, you can configure it so that once an appointment slot becomes available, e-mail notices are sent to your wait-list giving them an opportunity to take up that time – all done automatically.

4. Additional Sale Opportunities

Recurring Bookings:

Most small businesses earn the bulk of their revenues from loyal, repeat customers (especially service-based businesses that book appointments). With the right software, you can make it extremely easy for customers to book recurring appointments.

Perhaps they like to visit your business on the same day of each month. Instead of having to enter in their booking information manually for each month, use software to automate recurring bookings. Better yet, with self-scheduling, make it easy for your customers to book their own recurring appointments.

Packages:

Many small businesses that are appointment-based offer a variety of services. If you do, make it easy for your customers to create customized booking packages or you can create pre-arranged packages they can easily choose and book. This is a powerful up-selling option to earn more revenues per customer.

Gift Cards:

Gift cards are a very powerful sales tool. Not only do you make sales, but it’s a way to attract new customers. If you’re looking for powerful scheduling software, look for the ability to sell gift cards within the system.

Referral Tracking:

Do you offer referral incentives to your existing customers? If not, you’re missing out on using an extremely powerful sales tool. If you don’t, it’s probably because it’s a hassle to track referrals. You can automate referral tracking with some business scheduling software.

When a customer makes a referral, the software tracks that referral and credits the referring customer with whatever incentive you offer (i.e. discounts, free services, gift cards, etc.).

Online Point-of-Purchase Opportunities:

If you get scheduling software that has e-commerce capabilities, you automatically have a shopping cart available with which your customers can access while booking an appointment.

Point-of-purchase works both in-store and online. Why not increase sales by making it easy for your customers to buy your services and products online while they’re already in your system booking an appointment?

5. User-Friendly

If your customers can’t figure out how to book their appointments online or read your class/event schedule, then you’ve wasted your money. Sure, automated scheduling software will save you time – but the main goal is serving your customers. Look for a user interface that is extremely easy to use and pleasing to the eye.

6. Centralized Contact Database

Integrating your scheduling software with your contact database is absolutely crucial in order to get the most out of your scheduling software. Why? Because you can then use that contact database to manage your operations, financials, and of course leverage it for marketing.

When a new customer signs up with your business, you want scheduling software that automatically adds their data and profile to your contact database. Once in your database, you can leverage that information throughout your entire business’ operations from client management, report generation (to track your sales, attendance, etc.) to your marketing campaigns.

Impress Your Customers with Your Scheduling Software

If you offer self-booking capability and/or extremely informative up-to-date schedules on your website, you’ll impress new and existing customers. When they get reminders, they’ll be delighted. When you send them notices for openings, they’ll think the world of you and your business.

Even if you’re a small business, the right software doesn’t need to break your bank in order to appear and offer a level of service large, resource-rich companies offer. When you deliver a high level of customer service, you’ll build trust and make dealing with your business a pleasure.

Look for scheduling software that makes it extremely easy for your customers to use your services – and you’ll not only get more customers, but you’ll get regularly attending customers.

How Much Should You Pay for Business Scheduling Software?

This will depend on the size of your business and how many users you’ll need. Most cloud computing software pricing is based on the number of users. If you’re looking for some or all of the capabilities set out above, expect to pay at least $40 per month for a starter package.

I know getting desk-top software, which usually is a one-time payment, seems more attractive cost-wise. However, you’ll give up features, and in my experience, the cost for maintaining and upgrading desk-top scheduling software costs much more than the initial purchase cost.

I know, because I’ve used desk-top scheduling software and the cost alone for my tech consultant over the years is staggering.

Think of your “on-the-cloud” scheduling software as an investment. Better yet, if your software, because of its automation in booking and sending out reminders saves you one sale, that sale likely pays for your entire month’s cost of the cloud-computing solution.

As you can tell by reading much of the other content on this site, I’m in-tune with a great deal of software applications available for small businesses. I’m a small business owner and am always looking for ways to improve my customer service with technology (and automate processes to save me time).

I’ve used many business scheduling software applications, including Google’s online calendar. The problem with many scheduling software services is they are limited in features.

Sure, you might be able to integrate it with other software applications you have, but the ideal software is one that has all the features you’re looking for built-in the system itself. Integration sounds great on paper, but can be a real nightmare in practice.

Why Consider Network Marketing As Our Home-Based Business?

We are not asking that anyone get involved in network marketing and change everything immediately. We are however, suggesting that people consider the addition of the right home-based Network Marketing business starting their journey of financial success in a different direction. Having a home-based business is not a new concept. Network Marketing is not a new concept. Having a home-based Network Marketing business is not a new concept. However, never in the history of our country has the concept been so prevalent and is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception!

The reason is very simple. Our concept is providing American’s with what they want; control of their time and financial opportunities proportionate to their abilities and effort.

With the right home-based Network Marketing business, one has all of the benefits and advantages of a home-based business and unlimited financial opportunity usually associated with a large traditional business.

Employees and Debt
Rather than having several employees working with other employees under one roof for the benefit of someone else’s company, with Network Marketing, we have a bunch of home-based business owners, working under their own roof, networking with other home-based business owners, all working for their own companies. This concept provides an incentive and opportunity of multiplication and duplication for each home-based business owner equal to or greater than that of the owners of traditional businesses with multiple employees and locations, with out all the hassles associated with traditional businesses! It requires no debt, no employees and no complicated administrative procedures. With Network Marketing, we work with and for other people and other people work with and for us.

What is Network Marketing?
When you purchase a product or service, usually over 50% of the retail cost is associated with marketing! That would be any cost associated with getting someone to buy the product plus any cost incurred once it is produced by the factory. With Network Marketing, the products are shipped directly to the consumer from the factory. Those monies normally associated with marketing are paid to several home-based Network Marketing businesses owners which had previous network marketing or internet marketing influence in the referral of the customer!

Are the products less expensive?
Most customers will not buy inferior products and there is limited benefit to paying a little less for a product on the short run. Let’s assume that you sold yourself a product, ordered it from a Network Marketing company and in return the company paid you a 50% commission or rebate. In effect you’ve saved 50% on the products you purchased. That may save you a few dollars. Although saving money is important, the concept of earning money on products that we are already buying is far more exciting.

The concept is to redistribute the marketing dollar!

Imagine having a network of thousands of customers purchasing quality products or services each month where you receive a few dollars per month for each customer! Remember, these are products or services that we are all already buying, or should be, and this is money that is normally paid to others. In essence, the simple process of referring other customers who also refer other customers to a Network Marketing company, presents an opportunity for a redistribution of the wealth to you and I, the consumer!

Traditional Marketing versus Network Marketing
A traditional company would typically have a Vice President of Marketing with several regional managers reporting directly to them. Those regional managers would recruit, hire, train and manage several area managers who, in turn, would each recruit, hire, train and manage several sales representatives. The sales representatives are then responsible for selling the company’s products or services.

Plotted on a piece of paper, the shape of the traditional organization would look like a triangle or pyramid. It’s quite obvious that the higher the level the higher the pay and that there is less room at the top for advancement. It is also evident that it is mathematically impossible for each and every sales representative or employee to rise to the top regardless of how good a job they do!

The Difference
First and foremost, Network Marketing is different. Each individual starts at exactly the same level – at the top of their own organization, has exactly the same opportunity as everyone else and is compensated in directly proportion to the activity or success that they have had an influence in generating. Secondly, one doesn’t need to be a sales person to reap the level of financial benefits normally associated with company owners, sales managers and marketers. Thirdly, in Network Marketing we work with, when and for whom we choose. And last but not least, different than in a traditional company, we only work for ourselves and those whose activity generates income for us! We may also choose to work with those which we are generating income for, because, in most cases, they don’t make money unless we do.

How does it work?
In Network Marketing, there are customers and also independent representatives who operate as a home-based business. The customers may also be independent reps. Independent reps can earn management positions if they so desire. Different than in traditional business, each independent representative is given the opportunity and responsibility of both recruiting customers and other independent representatives. Each independent representative is owner, president, and vice-president of marketing for their own home-based network Marketing business.

Network Marketing is a word of mouth business. By spreading the word, the network marketing marketer identifies others who desire to be customers and or independent representatives (home-based business owners). The independent rep helps those newly recruited independent reps build their own home based business by helping them identify other customers and independent reps who desire to own their own home based network Marketing business. In a mature organization, it is normal for there to be 50-100+ customers for each customer/independent representative that you personally refer! Through this duplication and multiplication process each home based business owner can recruit and sponsor a few customers and/or independent representatives and, as a result, generate a sizable organization of consumers and marketers.

Referring
Does this sound like a foreign and awkward activity to you? How many people have you referred to your favorite restaurant or to your favorite movie. How many more have gone because the people you told enjoyed the restaurant or movie and told someone else who went? How much did you get paid? We are all already referring customers everyday! It is just that most of us don’t get paid for it.

The question is not whether we refer customers, the question is whether we are getting paid for the activity!

In network Marketing, customer/independent reps receive an income for “marketing” the products for the company simply by referring other customers! Normally, we receive compensation through 5 – 10 generations of this duplication activity. In addition, there are usually additional performance and leaderships bonus compensation structures! Assuming an association with the right company: Network Marketing is the one of the very few processes I know of where you will earn in network marketing relation to your ability and effort with virtually unlimited potential! Although most people are looking only for a few hundred or few thousand of supplemental monthly income, I personally know, know of, or have met a substantial number of people who earn several tens of thousands of dollars per month from their home-based network Marketing business!

Choosing a Safe Business Opportunity
Once it has been determined that a home-based business is appropriate, and further determined that a home-based Network Marketing business is even more appropriate, the real difficulty is in determining which network Marketing opportunities to become involved in. Without experience in the industry, unless you’re extremely lucky, it is next to impossible to pick a winner on the first try! Unfortunately, it seems that experience in the industry is not always sufficient for the proper evaluation of a network Marketing opportunity. As is the case with traditional business, there are good opportunities and bad opportunities. As is the case with traditional business, unfortunately many people let their emotions cloud their rational judgement when it comes to evaluating a network Marketing company and/or business opportunity!

Evaluation Process
There are certain criteria which must be used rationally when one does an evaluation. Technically, these could be divided into two categories: absolutely necessary characteristics and desirable characteristics. For me, the desirable characteristics are also necessary, therefore, I will not distinguish between the two and will address them in no particular order.

Competent Company Management Team
Normally it is very difficult for us to know any more about the network Marketing company’s management team than what they tell us themselves. The evaluation of the management team only becomes an issue with a new company! If a company has been in business three to five years with a well documented and stable growth record, we really don’t need to waste our time. New network Marketing companies are starting up at a higher rate than ever before. It seems that every person who has ever been successful at network Marketing wants their own company. Surprise, running a network Marketing company is traditional business and new network Marketing companies fail at near the same rate as traditional businesses!

Age of the Company

The most common mistake made by the masses is getting emotionally tied up in the “ground floor opportunity” pitch which caters to our “greed” and the “fear of loss”! If a person is determined to get involved with a new network Marketing company, they should do so because they understand totally the market for the product(s) and the experience of the management team. Being on the ground floor is usually not best because a majority of new companies will fail. Even if the new company does succeed, there will be many adjustments and changes during the initial growth and there usually is a lack of proven marketing procedures, materials, and training support. The attrition rate is usually much higher during those first years because most individuals are not emotionally flexible enough to accept the changes and turmoil. A network Marketing company experiences four basic phases of growth and market penetration. The risk of the company failing during phase one (usually first 3-5 years) is 10-20 time greater than in phase two. Contrary to popular belief, it usually is far better to be involved with a network Marketing company after they’re entered phase two. The risk of their failure is negligible. Their success indicates that their products are acceptable and that their marketing procedures and materials work! Then, either fortunately or unfortunately, our success depends only on ourselves!

Remember, the Vehicle must never be the limiting element in our success!

No Major investment
With the right network Marketing opportunity, one should be able to start their own home-based business for hundreds of dollars, rather than the normal thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars usually associated with other traditional businesses which have any serious financial potential!

No Inventory, No Receivables, and No Collections
I will not spend time on these. If you have ever experienced them as an owner, they need no explanation.

No Employees
Employees require a tremendous obligation from the business owner; mentally, emotionally and financially. With network Marketing, other independent distributors in our organization, while working their own home-based business, supply the same benefit to us as employees would to a traditional business. We have no payroll, no benefit overhead, no space requirement, and no management duties other than a moral obligation to help others in their business just as others will help us.

Residual Income – Persistency
Unless you have been a successful network marketer, insurance agent or marketer, author or actor, it is really difficult to understand the tremendous benefit of residual income.

Starting on a part- time basis, a sincere person or couple with desire and persistence can, within a three-to- five year period, build a meaningful residual income to last a lifetime and then some.

Building a residual income is a little like flying a big jet. It takes a significant amount of fuel to get it off the ground, but once it has reached altitude, it can throttle back and fly on a fraction of the fuel needed for takeoffs. The big difference is that a residual income can “fly” seemingly forever with a little refueling along the way. The income stream can be passed from generation to generation.

All the other benefits of network Marketing, such as control, opportunity, and flexibility are important, but Residual Income is the essence of network Marketing!

Experience has taught me that many more people propose to have Desire and Persistence than actually demonstrate it. The purpose for this communique is to identify Individuals who sincerely want more Success in their life but don’t seem to have the right Vehicle for their journey. If you are one of the few, then I invite you to investigate a home-based network Marketing business opportunity which would allow me to work with you and for you, in order that we both achieve our Success goals. If any of this makes any sense to you and you would like more information, use if for your success. If you would like a bio on my experience and qualifications, just ask. Thank you for your time, your most valuable asset!