When you own a business, it’s extremely easy to get emotionally attached to it — after all, it’s yours to shape, and ultimately a reflection of your personal and professional strengths (there’s a strong chance that you built it from nothing). This attachment is often advantageous because it drives you to try harder, stay the course, and overcome any obstacles that get in your way.
That said, it can also be a weakness by preventing you from objectively assessing the state of your business. Your bias towards your own company can lead you to view it far more positively than it deserves — and worse, assume that others will share your perception.
In the event that you need to seek investment in your business (to grow it, or even just to stabilize it), or choose to offer it up for purchase, you’ll need it to look as valuable as possible. Achieving this requires a commitment to stepping back, considering the company as a whole, and taking action to raise the perceived value. Here are 4 tips for managing it:
1. Partner with influential brands
Professional networking has been a key part of climbing the employment ladder since time immemorial. If you’re trying to get a shot at a particular company, then having an acquaintance (ideally a friend) in common with the management is a tried-and-tested tactic for being considered. Why? Because of social proof. If you trust someone, and they trust someone else, then you’re going to extend that person the benefit of the doubt.
In the same vein, when you’re trying to demonstrate the value of your business, being able to point to established working relationships with brands they already value will give you a significant boost. Bear in mind that you don’t need a long-term partnership: even a short-term collaboration on a piece of content will give you some additional credibility.
2. Get your finances in order
A stable business requires financial security. You might create incredible products or provide a superlative service, but if you don’t have your financial affairs under control, your company will be a huge liability and drive away anyone with the wherewithal to closely inspect your accounts (realistically, almost everyone with the necessary resources).
As such, it isn’t enough to have a rough idea of how your business is performing, or even have some solid calculations. You need a reliable system (or set of systems) in place to keep all the relevant elements tracked. Anyone taking over the company should be able to rapidly get up to speed with everything from rolled-over payroll to liquidity and cash flow.
Implement whatever tools you can — you don’t even need to spend much in the process (many are free, or at least cheap), though of course you can if you consider it justified. As long as you end up in a strong position with absolute confidence in any financial details you need to pass to prospective investors or buyers, it’s worth it.
In addition, you must start valuing your time properly: it’s not only a key habit for long-term financing, but also essential for upholding your credibility as a professional expert (and thus the value of your business, which is deeply linked to you). Make your time feel expensive and your workday seem cryptic and full of possibilities — that way, any prospective buyer or investor might feel a greater sense of urgency, always wondering if they might be beaten to the punch.
3. Comprehensively document procedures
A strong marker of a company’s health is the consistency and clarity of its internal procedures. Everyday operations should be wholly reliable and extremely efficient — two qualities that are antithetical to the common small business approach of essentially figuring things out on an ad-hoc basis and remembering (but not recording) what works.
Whether someone wanted to invest in your company or buy it entirely, they might want some changes made, and this could include hiring and/or firing members of staff. If your regular procedures aren’t clearly documented, that presents a major problem: if a vital employee left quite suddenly, you’d find yourself scrambling to replicate their productivity.
Accordingly, you should take the time to have every member of staff carefully document not only what they do but also how, when and why they do it (you can use something like Lucidchart for this). Make it clear to anyone interested in your business that you have your procedural documentation in order, and it’ll work to your benefit.
4. Optimize your website
Lastly, consider that your website is almost-certainly the de facto hub of your business (in addition to providing more first impressions than you or any physical premises you may have). When someone wants to know what you bring to the table, they’ll do a search and see what your site looks like — and if it doesn’t look solid, or even impressive, it’ll sour them on you.
A competitive modern business website needs to be fast, responsive, well-designed, and laden with all the pieces of information that relevant visitors might be looking for. It should boast everything that makes your business notable: the partnerships you’ve achieved, the awards you’ve won, the milestones you’ve passed, the unique services you offer. The last thing you want is for these virtues to be overlooked due to your website’s poor design or sluggish load times.
You can optimize your site in several ways, but upgrading your host is one of the most effective. In today’s world, there are no shortage of hosts who you may find superior to your current provider (especially if your business has been operating online for some time). For example, providers such as Cloudways offer a fully managed cloud hosting service, complete with a built-in Cloudflare CDN (content delivery network) for added speed and security. However, if you do decide to migrate your website to a new provider, don’t just settle for the first host you find — check out a few hosting comparison rundowns to get a bigger picture of what’s out there.
In the process of improving your website for UX, you should also spare some thought for SEO. While rankings won’t matter unduly once someone knows your business by name, they might be curious about where you stand relative to other companies, so the more prominently your website can appear in the SERPs, the better it will look.
While you can’t completely transform your business in a short period of time, you can make some significant changes for the better — changes that will achieve a notable increase in its perceived value. Follow these 4 tips to bolster your business, and you should have an easier time finding an investor or even a buyer.