As a serial entrepreneur, I learned early on some basic principles to keep in mind when I later sell my companies. Now, as I am a Vistage Chair who helps Vistage members sell their companies, I find the same core principles invaluable, since most advisors are focused on valuation factors and not presentation factors. So let me share a few principles now, since they apply to both markets.
Identify your brand identity as soon as possible and continue building upon the foundation of its “personality: throughout the time you run your company. This means having a clear sense of your target customers are – in terms of demographics, psychographics and purchasing behaviors. And when there are changes incorporate the development as an asset in helping share the current position. As Neal Roese, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School notes, “Establishing your brand’s personality allows you to cultivate a vision of where the brand is going in terms of what it is and what it is not”.
As the company grows, collect the stories that excel at describing what you’re to do – what change you’re trying to make in the world. As you tell the stories, you learn how to share them more powerfully and persuasively allowing you, over time, to more easily recruit fans and buyers to your mission and vision. Craig Wortman, head of the Kellogg Sales Institute, notes that this allows you to discover which of your ideas don’t resonate with customers early on, and enable you to continue polishing them.
In addition to selling the company, you need to sell yourself as a wise entrepreneur. Rick Desai, a venture capitalist and lecturer of innovation and entrepreneurship says that “the ability to inspire belief is the number one quality I’m looking for.”
Finally, Carter Cast, operating partner of the Pritzker Group Capital, notes that you need to polish your presentation so I will shine for the potential investors. How they handle the first 30 seconds of your pitch often has an outside importance in whether investors will or won’t invest in you.
Following such advice can lead to great success. So far most of my Vistage members have sold their companies for more than they first expected!