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Professional Coaches: The Secret to Closing a Deal

Selling your business is tough. Understanding what is best for you, your family, employees, shareholders, and your customers takes planning, thought and, if possible, the help of a trained professional coach.

While most business owners rely on M&A advisors, it might be worth hiring a professional coach before entering the process to help you understand your desired goals. A coach retained by you works for you alone and has no vested interest in the potential outcome of a transaction.

Coaches do not help you actually sell your business, to do that you need a banker. Coaching is all about defining goals, creating a process, and then having someone dedicated to helping you stick to the process or adjust when necessary until the goal is reached. This process works across industries and geographies, and coaches don’t need to know everything about your business or industry to be effective.

Here are 5 reasons you should talk to a business coach first, and then hire the best banker you can find.

1. Not your average advice

Coaches are not financial advisors, legal advisors, friends or mentors, and they don’t give you advice or their opinions. The purpose of a coach is to help the business owner define and then achieve specific goals related to a potential transaction. Coaching is not advice, rather it’s a process to help the business owner achieve success, however that is defined.

2. No strings attached

You pay a coach for their time, and there is no expectation of future reward if a transaction happens or not. This creates a relationship that is uniquely unbiased and ruthlessly objective. Coaches commit to complete confidentiality, but there are no complex contracts, NDA’s, no shop agreements and exclusivity clauses to worry about.

3. Prepare for the emotional side of the process

It is nearly impossible to anticipate the emotional highs and lows that occur preparing for, executing, and even after a transaction. Coaches do this for a living, and have seen numerous transactions so they know how to prepare business owners for what’s ahead, or help them process what’s happening in the heat of battle.

4. Another sounding board

Most people that you ask for advice (or who give it without being asked) will be biased whether they are aware of it or not. Bankers have a big incentive to see a transaction go through, employees might be concerned about the new ownership, and your Board might want to sell without concern for the plans of the buyer to keep management on.

At the end of the day, there needs to be one person with absolutely no agenda besides helping the business owner, who is available one on one to help work through the process.

Typically the Board or investors get involved with the bankers, lawyers and other advisors, as they should, but the coach works for the business owner and represents the only confidential sounding board for the business owner to work with from start to finish.

5. Seeing what you can’t see

As a business owner your success has often come from living your business 24×7, and while this is great for building a business it can work against you in a sale process. A sale process is all about what someone else thinks your business is worth, and how much they need or want to own it. Coaches can provide that outsider view of your business and challenge your assumptions prior to meeting with bankers and buyers when it really counts.

The ultimate goal for any business owner is to achieve the best outcome possible in any sale process. Working with a coach first ensures that the business owner has defined a clear idea of what the best outcome looks like for them personally before jumping into a sales process.

By establishing a baseline with a coach, the business owner can then easily adjust and adapt to the twists and turns a transaction invariably takes because there is a established range of objectives pre defined by the business owner.

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