We are realistically only one month into the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and already businesses are starting to feel a serious pinch. This is a serious concern not only for the small businesses, but for all of us in Kelowna. Small businesses are the pillars in our community – they’re the sponsors at our charity events, they pay the salaries of thousands of Kelowna citizens, and their profits remain local, spent at local businesses. We ALL have an interest in keeping local businesses alive.
We have mentioned a few options available for small business owners in previous articles:
- Take advantage of wage subsidies or interest-free small business loans
- Review whether you can get out of, or postpone obligations, under existing contracts
- Attempt to negotiate a postponement or waiver of rent due under your commercial lease
If you would like a further explanation of any of the topics above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
So what happens when all else fails, you can’t keep up with your financial obligations, and it seems that your only option is to close your doors and walk away? Before closing up shop, you may want to consider a potential sale of some key assets, a merger with another company, or even a sale of your whole company – and hopefully we can help you do so.
This series will cover the following topics:
- Sources of Value
- Finding a Buyer
- Methods of Financing
SOURCES OF VALUE
Your business is in a tough spot, but that doesn’t mean it has no value! Despite the fact that there may be more money going out the door than coming in, there are many sources of value you may not have considered:
- Client List and Goodwill: Having an extensive client list, or even a small list of very good clients has a ton of value. Many businesses spend years trying to build the clientele, that you may currently enjoy. Maybe you’re the exclusive supplier to a large company that will recover after the downturn but isn’t currently buying your product; maybe you provide services to an existing network (ie. beer to various bars and liquor stores, landscaping services to property developments, IT services to all of the law and accounting firms in town, etc.); Whatever drove your success before the downturn will drive it afterwards and this is valuable, despite the fact that money may not be currently coming in the door.
- Location: If you’ve got a long-term lease for a fantastic location, this alone could render your company more valuable to the right party. This is especially true if your lease is on very favourable terms, such as low rent, or multiple renewal periods at modest rent increases. Key to this is having either a friendly landlord, or the ability to transfer ownership in your company without consent from the landlord. A recent example from our practice was a hair salon that was purchased for six figures, then promptly shut down – the purchaser simply wanted to take over the location.
- Existing Contracts: This is similar to client lists, but even better – these are clients who are bound, by law, to continue to deal with you, buy products from you, receive services from you, and so on. This kind of predictability is very attractive to companies who are looking to expand their clientele, distribution of their products, and so on. To this point, if your client relationships have thus far been mostly “handshake deals”, you may want to try to formalize them in even just a simple contract.
- Licenses: If you are in an industry which requires a licence to operate, especially if that licence is either scarce or hard to get (ie. liquor stores, bars or pubs, cannabis stores, etc.) or exclusive to you (ie. exclusive right to distribute a popular product), this can potentially hold huge value to someone.
- Intellectual Property: Do you have a recognizable trademark? Recipes only known to you that keep customers coming back? Patents in items you invented? Copyright to original creations such as an educational curriculum? Perhaps you simply have a website that drives a lot of traffic or that has great SEO, a potentially popular domain name, or even social media accounts with a large following (ie. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Reviews, etc.)? These all potentially hold a lot of value to the right buyer.
- Existing business systems: Businesses that operate efficiently, with a strong team, a solid organizational structure, and well-developed metrics are very difficult to build. It could very well be that your well-oiled machine, while not profitable to you, could be incredibly valuable to the right buyer. A marketing company may be picked up by a larger company wanting to bring marketing in-house; a manufacturer may purchase a storefront in a popular location in order to control their supply chain; a large engineering company may purchase a small engineering company that has deep specialty in a specific area in which they don’t have expertise. Whatever your expertise, a well-functioning and efficient business that can operate without you will be valuable to the right party.
By analyzing the value that remains in your company, despite a lack of cashflow, you may be able to find a solution that DOESN’T involve simply closing your doors and shutting down for good. If you are interested in learning more about selling/merging your business or otherwise realizing the value in your business in these difficult times, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com.
FH&P Lawyers LLP Welcomes Tanvir Gill to the Firm
Originally from Surrey, B.C. Tanvir obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University before attending law school at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. She obtained her law degree in 2018 and completed her articles with a local firm. Tanvir was called to the Bar in 2019 and joined FH&P as an associate in July 2020. Tanvir is building a practice with a focus on residential and commercial real estate, business law and wills and estates. She is fluent in both Punjabi and Hindi. Outside of the office, Tanvir enjoys taking advantage of all that the Okanagan Valley has to offer, whether that means visiting her favourite wineries, paddle boarding or snowboarding at Big White in the winters.
DON’T JUST CLOSE YOUR DOORS (Part 3): Options for Financing
This is Part 3 of a three-part series entitled “Don’t Just Close Your Doors” in which we provide options for business owners struggling with the effects of the shutdowns and who see no option other than shutting down. In previous articles, I urge business owners not to focus on the current cashflow of the business (which is likely not great, given the state of the economy) and focus instead on the sources of potential value in their business – client lists, location, intellectual property, existing contracts, and business systems.
DON’T JUST CLOSE YOUR DOORS: Finding a Buyer (PART 2)
This is Part 2 of a three-part series entitled “Don’t Just Close Your Doors” in which we provide options for business owners who see no option other than shutting down. In the previous article, I urge business owners not to focus on the current cashflow of the business (which is likely not great, given the state of the economy) and focus instead on the sources of potential value in their business – client lists, location, intellectual property, existing contracts, and business systems. Rather than shutting their doors, we hope to encourage business owners to realize that potential value, and consider selling all, or a part, of their business to benefit from the value they have created.