Small and medium sized business owners will be required at some time to exit their business.
It would be worthy of congratulations if all such exits were planned and the owner was able to maximize the value of the business. Unfortunately on too few occasions is this the case.
All too often insufficient time is allowed for an orderly exit, and as a consequence the business value fails to meet the business owner’s expectations. It is often found that seeking professional advice is delayed and the exit resembles a reactionary move rather than planned.
Immediately upon the business owner taking the decision to exit professional help should be recruited, including a qualified finance professional, if one is not already employed by the business.
In many instances the cost of a full-time Finance Director ( FD ) would be beyond the resources of a business, however, in such circumstances consideration should be given to appointing a part-time finance director to help prepare for the exit.
The benefits of recruiting a part-time finance director in an exit situation include:
- Cost containment – During the period leading up to exit the p/t Finance Director would be employed only as required to meet the business needs. This may for example be one/two days per week and cost considerably less than that of a full time equivalent.
- Taking responsibility for ensuring all systems and procedures satisfy the generally accepted standards. The p/t Finance Director would ensure that no corporate governance concerns exist that may risk the disposal of the business.
- Managing the finances of the business to generate profits and positive cash flows that would be attractive to potential buyers.
- Ensuring financial and management accounts are prepared regularly and that they form the basis of the decision making process.
- Working with the business owner on strategy and offering unbiased and independent opinions in relation to the sale.
- Training staff as necessary
- Providing the financial expertise when liaising with third parties including banks, solicitors, auditors, finance providers and other professionals associated with the exit.
- Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of the business and of its proposed strategies. As necessary take appropriate actions to ensure a controlled quality driven culture is evident to all prospective buyers.
- Being the person responsible for the collection, preparation and assembly of all financial records and other documentation required by the interested parties.
- Preparing forecasts and projections that may be requested, thus relieving the business owner of the onerous task.
The appointment of a part time finance director will display that the business owner regards the p/t finance director’s input as key to the financial success of the business.
To avoid the disappointment of failing to realize the expected business value on exit, the business owner should prepare well in advance.
Ideally at least two years, maybe longer, should be allowed for a planned exit, and an important aspect of this process may be the recruiting of a p/t finance director to support the business owner in:
David Willetts is a qualified accountant (FCMA) with many years financial and operations experience at board level. He works as a part-time Finance Director through his own business DAW Consulting Limited.