There are well over 500 new high tech SaaS businesses founded every week in The United States. It has become more seductive to launch your own SaaS, with the idea of a big exit paycheck being written three to four years later, then buying the Powerball $500 million ticket. The sexiness of the "big exit" increases with the news of another big windfall. Last weeks block buster $1 billion acquisition of Dollar Shave Club by Unilever is just another example.
Susan Faykus, from Integrated Financial in Austin, Texas, says: “More often than not, when we help business owners exit their existing company, we commonly find they have waited too late to engage legal, business broker and financial strategist professionals that could help them mitigate the heavy tax burden that could have been restructured for philanthropy or their legacy.”
In the wake of the Dollar Shave Club deal, I reached out to my own business advisers, at Commerce Business Advisers, and asked them what are the three biggest mistakes that founders make in the early days, that eventually hurt their exits. Their thoughts contain incredible advice for their early stage exit-seekers. Read and heed:
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Founders wait too long to assemble the best possible team of advisers. The founder will potentially added 20-30 percent to the value of the exit if they have a strong team of advisers at the earliest possible stage -- an experienced and professional team of business intermediaries/brokers, legal, financial strategists and tax planners who can expertly structure the business to accomplish the seller’s goals, inclusive of lifestyle, philanthropy and legacy. The advisers will also be experienced in the industry and open crucial doors for fund raising, business development and strategic partnerships.
Failing to recruit and secure a management team that possess the knowledge, accomplishment and sophistication required by a buyer post-acquisition. When someone is ready to buy your company, they are going to look at the quality/experience of the managers, as the retention of those people will be part of the deal. Having the right managers empowers the buyer to concentrate on the overall management of the company in the role of CEO, without having to also act as CFO and/or COO.
Failing to install and provide IT systems to accommodate the growth sought by the new owner. If the company does not have the right business growth and management systems in place, the company will be less attractive. A few examples are: Netsuite for accounting and Silicon Valley Bank for banking. Any potential suitor will be more excited about buying your company if they see NetSuite and SVB are part of your team. As information technology has become an increasingly critical aspect of a modern companies’ operations, potential buyers have intensified their scrutiny of the seller’s IT systems. In a “roll up” scenario, the ease of a smooth integration of the IT system will be a key component of the transaction.
Related: Five Smart Exit Strategies
If you are are already playing the "big check exit" lottery, then check your advisers, managers and systems and increase your odds.