Professionals Have Coaches

“Professionals have coaches; amateurs don’t.” I heard this at a conference recently, and the idea stuck with me.

We know that professional athletes continue to work with coaches throughout their careers, and not just their head coach, but targeted coaches for their specialty. Michael Jordan had a shooting coach even though he was one of the best offensive threats in the league. Baseball players have hitting coaches. And football players have offensive coaches, defensive coaches, line coaches, and quarterback coaches.

Professional athletes are the best in the world at their craft. But they know that to continue to get better and have the best chance of success, they need to work with a coach to move their game forward.

As business owners, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same. A coach is someone who understands excellence and how to achieve it. If your goal is to sell your business someday, at the maximum value, a coach can help you get there.

Unfortunately, most business owners skip that preparation step. They go right into game day with little to no planning. Many even try to sell their business themselves. That’s the reason that nationally only about 20 percent to 30 percent of companies successfully sell.

Get an estimate of value, three to five years before you plan to sell (or sooner). Unlike a formal certified valuation which can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, an estimate of value is an affordable but valuable way to find out what your business would sell for in the current market.

Your advisor should also be able to educate you on why your business value is what it is and what you can do to make your business more salable. Understanding your business’s value drivers and detractors will help you create a more attractive opportunity for buyers.

When it comes to positioning a business for sale, there are a lot of things that can be corrected. Adjustments to your working capital alone can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in value at sale time. But it’s hard to make meaningful changes right when you’re ready to sell.
Michael Jordan was the best ever, but he knew he still needed a coach. That “I can always be better” mentality made him a legend.

Like Michael, you may be one of the best of the best at what you do. But if you’ve never played a round of golf before, you can’t walk out on the course and expect to hit par. And if you’ve never sold a business before, you can’t expect to navigate an unfamiliar process and win peak value in the end.

Confidence is a great thing; it’s pretty much required to be an entrepreneur. But too much confidence can be a disservice come game time. Your business can always be better.