Ramping Up the Curb Appeal as You Plan to Sell Your Business

Do a thorough inventory of such things as the company's brand assets and messaging to assure the highest value upon a transition in ownership.

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By Aaron Keller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Anyone who has launched a successful business venture has probably likely spent countless tireless hours building it to what it is today. Through all of that work, though, have the owners given thought about what could be done to prepare to sell the business one day? Whether the plan is to sell it now or in the next five years, it takes time to prepare for the transition.

There are many moving parts to consider when planning a business transition. The owners must identify strategic buyers, understand the company's valuation and prepare the team. While it's essential to manage all these moving parts, the owners must also consider the largest asset that doesn't appear on the balance sheet: the company's brand assets. This includes the brand's values, promise, personality, identity and reputation.

Giving time and thought to identifying and improving the company's brand assets will help provide the business some "curb appeal" if and when the decision is made to put the company on the market. This can give owners extra leverage in finding strategic buyers and they might be more likely to sell the company at a greater value.

Just like selling a house might prompt an owner to undertake certain updates, changes and cleaning to increase the perception of value, this is true in selling a business as well. By spending time in advance of a transition to fix up the business, particularly its brand assets, the sales process may end up being speedier and simpler, with a bigger value potentially realized.

So what can be done to improve the value of the business before a transition in ownership? To begin, explore these five areas:

Related: Selling Your Business at Your Price

1. Trademark.

Is there a registered trademark for the corporate name or any product or service names? Are there any other parts of the business that are considered intellectual property such as patents or copyrights? Be sure these are all properly in place before making a change in ownership so that all the brand assets are protected.

2. Reputation.

When was the last time the company did research to learn what customers, prospects and partners believe about its reputation, offerings and promises? Understanding what the company's brand means to important audiences is the first step to take before making adjustments to improve the business.

3. Brand assets.

Have the owners written down the company's brand promise, values, personality and the customer benefits of the business? By organizing all these in a written summary, then employees, future managers and potential owners can leverage them and translate them into potential value in the marketplace.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Business

4. Messaging.

What are the company's key messages? Are they organized by audience type? Specific messaging for each audience type should capture attention and be aimed at building meaningful and lasting relationships. By having these key messages mapped out ahead of time, they will be more easily carried into the future.

5. Visual language.

Has anyone taken a hard look at the organization's visual language? The tools used to communicate visually such as the company website, sales presentations, ads and even its social media and other touch points should be engaging, relevant and highly productive for the business.

If the transition is planned early enough, the business can be primed to become the most attractive product possible, which will enhance how potential buyers will perceive it. These improvements will also help to dramatically increase the company's value.

Related: Sell Losses at Your Failed Company for Cash. Take Full Advantage of Tax Credits.

Aaron Keller

Managing Principal, Capsule

Aaron Keller is a founding partner and the managing principal of Capsule, a brand design agency in Minneapolis. He has lead brand development, strategy, research and naming for more than 15 years, working with brands as large as Jack Daniel's, Target and 3M, and as small as one-person startups. He has written two books on the subjects of logo and package design: Design Matters//Logos and Design Matters//Packaging.

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