At some point in your event planning business, you may consider selling your business. Or, perhaps, selling your event planning business is part of your business exit strategy. After selling my 10-year-old successful event planning business in 2015, here are my top tips for preparing your business to be a sellable business in the future.
1) Keep REALLY good accounting records
From the start of your business (or as soon as possible), use separate bank and credit card accounts for your business. Do not mix any personal and business banking or finances. A potential buyer will want to see accurate and current business financial records.
I recommend using accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave, or 17 Hats. Potential buyers will want to see the past 3-5 years of profit and loss statements as well as bank statements and employee/contractor payment records.
If accounting isn’t your strength, hire a bookkeeper and/or accountant who can help you for a few hours each month to keep your financial records up-to-date, reconcile your business bank statements, and prepare your business taxes.
2) Focus on lead generation and keep track of where leads come from
A big selling point for my planning business was the number of leads generated on a yearly basis. With strong attention to SEO during the previous 7 years, my event planning company generated 300-400 inquiries per year. We also had other sources of leads such as being on preferred vendor lists, referrals from past clients, and two paid advertising outlets.
Not only do you want your business to generate inquiries, you need to keep track of where those inquiries came from. This shows which marketing initiatives are working and is appealing information for a potential buyer.
3) Read Built to Sell
This book, Built to Sell, is key to building any type of sellable business. I read this book after being in business for about 4 years and implemented many of the strategies which eventually led to a successful business sale.
4) Keep your branding up to date
Current branding with your website, social media accounts, and print marketing materials is essential if you are trying to sell an event planning business. The last thing a new owner wants to do is create a new brand and look for a business they just purchased.
Updated branding will be appealing to potential buyers and can greatly increase the sale price.
5) Keep track of your PR, awards, and publications
Having a track record of press, publications, and awards makes an event planning business quite appealing to potential buyers. Not only do you want to strive for these, keep track of every publication (both online and in print) and award that you receive. Those are great intellectual property assets for your event planning business.
6) Don’t make your business all about you
Most of us start out as solopreneurs which is just fine. If you are considering selling your event planning business in the future, you will generate a higher sale price if the business isn’t just about you. Your business will be an easier sell if it isn’t named after you. It will also be an easier sell if you have associates or other lead planners who have helped create the overall brand for your business or if you have another income source such as selling invitations or maintaining a rental inventory. A potential buyer does not want the risk of failure if you are the entire company and brand.
7) Keep all of your portfolio pics from past events
Having the professional images from your past weddings and events is another intellectual property item that is valuable in the sale of an event planning business. Keep copies of everything that relates to the portfolio of the company including all images from past events and copies of your event timelines.
8) Document your business processes
Having written procedures and processes for both the business and planning aspect of your event planning company is crucial to have in place before considering selling your business. This makes it easy for a new owner to step right in and be productive.
9) Keep a copy of all past event contracts
Potential buyers may want to see copies of past client contracts to confirm the amount of business that has taken place.
10) Have solid contracts in place with your employees and contractors
If you have employees or contractors, have firm agreements in place with each person that outlines their pay rates and who owns the intellectual property that they work on while employed by your event planning business. The last thing you want is a battle over who owns the rights to the wedding photos from a wedding planned by one of your associates. This could deter a potential buyer since they can’t be sure your staff won’t use photos from your planning company somewhere else in the future.
Not only are these great tips for preparing to sell your event planning business, they are useful for managing a successful and growing event planning business, even if you have no intention of selling it.
If you are interested in more detailed information about preparing to sell your event planning business or how to actually sell the business, consider purchasing a one-on-one coaching session so that we can discuss the specifics of your business and create a plan together.
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