Think about why you started your business.
Maybe you were 15 years old, mowing lawns for neighbors during the summer to raise money for your senior trip. Maybe you graduated from college and loved being outside so much you found a way to make it your job.
Whatever your reasons were then, chances are you aren’t spending a ton of time mowing lawns or enjoying the outdoors these days. So what’s your “why” now? And do you have an exit strategy planned?
These are all important questions to ask yourself as a green industry business owner.
Here’s one more: If you already know your exit strategy involves selling your business to a third party, are you building an operation that’s strong enough to be attractive to buyers?
RJ Krone, Spring-Green Lawn Care’s Vice President of Franchise Support, has a few tips on the factors to consider if you’re hoping to sell your green industry business — no matter where you are now in the growth of your business.
Think Ahead and Plan Your Future
Set goals for your business: Where do you see your operation a year from now? Two years? Five? Ten? And more importantly, where do you see yourself as a business owner in that same timeframe? Behind a desk, still managing the business? Signing a lucrative deal to sell your successful business? Or already retired, enjoying the back nine at your favorite golf course?
If you’re hoping to sell your green industry business down the road, make every business decision with that end goal in mind.
RJ’s tip: “Always know where you are in your business’s life cycle. Begin to take the necessary steps about three to five years before you actually hope to retire. And make sure you know how you envision your life after your business — some of our franchise owners approach retirement and realize they don’t know how to stop working!”
Slow and steady wins the race. Modest beginnings and measured growth are a better indicator for future success than sudden bursts of hiring and expansion, which can be a recipe for “crash and burn.”
Scaling proportionately just makes good business sense! Keep your eyes on the prize, and make smart financial, hiring and operational decisions that will make you attractive to a future buyer when the time comes.
RJ’s tip: “Hire a manager well in advance of a sale who can carry your business forward after you’re gone. Having someone in place who already knows the ropes will make you more attractive to a buyer.”
Build a Stellar Business Reputation
Build your business on how you treat people — make customer service a cornerstone of your company’s culture. A good reputation with local customers will take you far in your everyday business operations, and serve you especially well when selling your business.
And remember: In any business, your reputation extends to your telephone support, employees who interact face to face with customers, management, and your social media and marketing.
RJ’s tip: “Understand the changing times and let your marketing strategy follow suit. Invest in new technology, do things you’re uncomfortable with. Spread your wings! Get data that shows you’re forward-looking. Think about who’s going to buy have a stake in your business later — don’t just think about yourself.”
Keep Pristine Books and Stay Lean
Many small businesses play it fast and loose with their finances and bookkeeping for far too long. This is a prime example of working in the business to the point of failing to work on the business, and it can be fatal.
Determine your business’s key performance indicators and track them meticulously. Develop a deep understanding of the inner financial workings of your business — or, better yet, hire someone who focuses just on accounting and bookkeeping when the time comes.
RJ’s tip: “An educated buyer is only going to invest in your business if they can trust the financials. You don’t want there to be any questions! If it has a good balance statement and a good P&L, they can take that to a bank to go after financing. If it doesn’t look right, they’ll walk away.”
Automate and Build Repeatable Processes
The ability to grow and scale efficiently is important for any small business — but it’s critical for a business eventually looking to sell. That efficiency is created through automating tasks and building repeatable, reliable processes.
Diversifying with an established franchise operation is one way to add those processes seamlessly into your business.
When Jason Vahle was considering a franchise to diversify his St. Louis area landscaping business, he saw value in Spring-Green’s established processes and infrastructure:
“The backbone of their networking — from the call center to the marketing infrastructure, to the digital triggers and the support staff they have in place — was all impressive. To attain that myself would take 30 years. [I knew] Spring-Green would get me from point A to point B a lot faster.”
Discover how Spring-Green’s four decades of experience can make the difference for your green industry business — whether you’re keeping the operation in the family or looking to sell in the future. Call 1-800-777-8608 or visit us at www.growmygreenindustrybusiness.com.