The quick guide to selling your business
Business Sale Live! at the RAC, London
"I had to go to prison to learn how to read and write…" As guest speakers go, John Bird - founder of the Big Issue, and now Lord Bird, a wildcard cross-bench member of the Upper House - certainly knows how to make a big impression.
Lord Bird (pictured here with BCMS founding director Dave Rebbettes) was the final speaker at this week's Business Sale Live!, a one-day conference on selling a business at the stunning RAC Club in Pall Mall, London. Describing himself as "almost a stand-up comedian", Lord Bird was on a one-man mission to entertain. One delegate even told him: "I haven't laughed so much in a very long time."
Was that out-of-step for an event dedicated to the serious topic of selling a business? In fact, the exchange of ideas in an informal, open atmosphere was very much the defining characteristic of the day. Too often business conferences can get bogged down in shop talk, jargon and corporate swagger. At BCMS, we design events to give business owners the chance to get straight-talking advice, straight from the experts.
The business sale agenda
At Business Sale Live, we were ably supported by short, candid presentations from our partners at wealth managers Tilney and lawyers Blaser Mills LLP. BCMS’ Dave Rebbettes and David Oliver gave a fast-paced, eye-opening insight into the core principles and challenges in every business sale transaction, from looking far and wide for potential purchasers, to creating competition among bidders. Both passionate speakers, their message was unmissable: the key driver in every transaction is growth, and your company’s true value must always lie in its future potential, not its past performance.
I was on hand to compere an hour-long Q&A session with three former clients, who brought these principles to life: John Casserly of IT consultants Xceed, Helen Hunsperger, whose employer Agora divested the market-leading Moneyweek magazine through BCMS, and Jeremy Gardner, of JGA, whose business sold to world-leading safety consultancy JENSEN HUGHES.
All offered contrasting perspectives on the personal and emotional challenges of a sale. Audience questions were testing and searching, and were duly answered with clear-eyed honesty. There was killer advice on how to prepare for the sale process, how it feels to deal with buyer types from trade to private equity, and what to do once you get to negotiation stage. Their stories were different, but all three were clear on one thing: having an advisor in your corner is a huge advantage when it comes to deal terms and value.
Upcoming business sale events for you
This is only the second Business Sale Live we’ve run, after a session at Knowsley Hall near Liverpool back in December 2018. There’s plenty of opportunity for networking, and feedback from delegates is incredibly positive so far. One attendee described it to me as a "fascinating, enjoyable, eye-opening session".
We'll be running more events like this throughout the year. If you have even a passing interest in how businesses get bought and sold, we think it will be very much worth your while attending.