When the time comes to sell your LSP or language tech business, what attributes should you look for in your co-pilots to land the deal?
Piloting a language services provider (LSP) or language technology business through the ups and downs of business each day is a different skillset than what’s needed to navigate the often-complex M&A process. When the opportunity comes to sell the company, that’s when it can be useful to have the help of trusted advisors on the journey. So, who belongs in the cockpit to help make the landing as smooth as possible?
Firstly, there’s no template for this: every company is different, so you need to choose external advisors who are prepared to take the time to understand your personal and professional goals as a business owner, who can help you achieve those aims, and can give you the benefit of their experience along the way.
Key advisor traits
When Lion People Global polled sellers to find out the most important traits that people in your M&A cockpit should have, the four most popular attributes were: reputation, honesty, experience, and network. You want people who have been through the process before, and above all who can advise you based on a clear-eyed look at you, your business, and your goals – they won’t just tell you what you want to hear.
This trusted inner circle might include consultants with growth strategy and M&A experience. They might be brokers like Lion People Global who understand your end game and can advise you on how to drive value into your business with that in mind and can also facilitate expert consultancy in specific areas or provide staffing for key positions in the business to increase its value as an acquisition target.
According to Olga Blasco, M&A Principal Partner at Lion People Global, you need people with experience, but it has to be “experience that serves what you want and what you need.”
Above all, Olga values trust and says there can be no one-size-fits-all solution.
“I think establishing that trust-chain is sometimes far more important than any fancy list of credentials,” Olga says.
“It has to be people who really have a mission to understand what you want, how to get you there and advise you wisely and not necessarily applying a given template, but really take the time to understand what you want and what you want to get out of here.”
A narrative with numbers
These professional consultants can help to present the company in the best possible light, like turning the company’s financial performance into a story that’s attractive to buyers. They can anticipate issues in the M&A process and even remain when the deal is closed.
Some companies choose to work with certified valuators who can help with assessing a pricing range that considers companies in your peer group or your industry. This isn’t compulsory but it can be useful to ensure your goals as a seller are matched to what the market may be looking for.
Other important allies include a lawyer who is a good cultural fit with the company aims and has preferably worked on similar deals before. It’s also worth considering the advice of a specialist financial advisor, not only from a wealth management perspective but who can also provide tax advice relevant to your region, such as if there are more advantageous times of the year to close a sale.
Your personal circle can be invaluable: some companies might have a formal board; others have a group of informal advisors. You should also think about who among the team will stay with the company post-merger. It’s worth engaging with trusted, mature employees who understand why the deal is happening.
For any business owner looking for trusted partners to have in their cockpit as they head for their destination in the M&A process, the words of entrepreneur Hans F. Hansen are a useful guiding principle: “People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely.”
If you want to know more about this area, visit Lion People Global’s website where you can watch back our M&A Talks series of videos and fill out a questionnaire that entitles you to one hour’s free consultation on getting a LSP or language tech business ready for sale.