Bad Timing – Waiting too Long to Sell a Pharmacy Can Cost you a Fortune

When making the decision whether to sell your business there are three types of timing considerations:

  1. Your personal timing
  2. Your company’s timing
  3. The nature of the economic climate

    To achieve perfect timing, you would be mentally prepared to sell when the company is coming off several great years.  In addition, interest rates would be low, financing would be readily available, capital gains taxes would be low and the local and national economies would be in growth mode.  When will that happen next? Nobody knows.

    An example of how the economic climate can affect business valuations

    Let’s take a look at what General Electric (GE) has experienced primarily due to the economic climate since the fall of 2007.  If you owned 10,000 shares of GE stock on 10/31/07, it was worth $411,600.  One year later, it was worth $172,900, two years later $134,400, three years later $155,100 and four years later, on 10/31/11, it was worth $167,100.  The stock lost 58% of its value in the first year, and since then has continued its downward trend.  GE lagged the overall market since the market crash in the fall of 2008 through the fall of 2011, but it is very representative of how quickly things can change and how difficult it is to recover.

    Your small business valuation can fluctuate greatly from year-to-year

    Much like the stock market, business valuations are dynamic, not static.  Small business valuations are primarily driven by EBIDA, which can fluctuate a fair amount from year to year due to changes in RX volumes, competitors and reimbursements. 

    The economic climate is unpredictable

    It is definitely better if you can sell coming off good years for your company and in a favorable economic climate.  But even the experts can’t predict what the economy will do in the short-term or the long-term.  As I write this, we are in a period of high inflation and low unemployment. That could change tomorrow.

    Business values decline much faster than they recover

    When your company’s results are down, your business valuation goes down immediately.  It usually takes three years of improving results to significantly increase your business valuation, whereas one bad year can immediately and significantly decrease the value of the business.  At first glance, that doesn’t seem fair.  (It is fair and can be explained, perhaps in a future article on this website.

    The timing of a decision to sell is a personal decision

    So, when should you sell?  Only you can make that decision.  One of the most important things to do to achieve flexibility in the timing of your decision is to Overcome the Power of Inertia and start planning for the sale of your business regardless of when you might sell.  You need to identify the obstacles to a successful sale and address/mitigate them.  Doing so enables you to be confident of a successful sale when you determine the personal timing is right for you.

    You should be aware that the best time to sell is when your business has had three good years in a row.  CAUTION – that shouldn’t stop you from selling at other times.  I’ve seen far too many owners hold onto their business way too long – many to the point where they were not saleable.

    Holding on to a business too long

    Too many owners think they can buck their negative trend and turn the business around.  It seldom happens, especially when an owner is experiencing burn-out symptoms.  A turn-around after a bad year requires a time investment of at least three years, and may require more.   That’s a huge commitment to ask of yourself if you are experiencing burn-out symptoms such as lack of enthusiasm for the daily activities you perform at your business; tiredness of doing the “same old, same old;” an overwhelming feeling that things are beyond your control; carelessness leading to mistakes/missed opportunities; or physical symptoms such as exhaustion, moodiness, or irritability.

    The most common timing mistake business owners make is trying to hold on and turn around declining results when they don’t really have the enthusiasm or mental drive to make it happen.  The turn-around effort can be stressful and lead to health problems that might further detrimentally affect the business value.  It can lead to a non-reversible downward spiral that ultimately results in a business that cannot be sold.  It happens often and it’s a shame.

    Is your commitment and enthusiasm to turn around your business waning?

    While it is hard to predict the future economic climate, it is easy to see a downward trend in your operating results.  Unless you are sure you have the drive to turn things around, it may be best to sell your business before the value declines further.  Ask yourself this:  “If I knew my business was declining over the past few years and I was unable to do anything about it, what’s going to change to provide me with the inner fortitude to take on such a large task?  Can I really generate the internal motivation to get it done?”

    If your commitment and enthusiasm for a turn-around isn’t similar to the feelings you had when you started or acquired the business years ago, you should consider selling your business in the short term.

    If you want to know if it’s a good time to sell your business, give ColonyRX a call.