We all know entrepreneurs. Maybe you are one. Entrepreneurs have a passion to fill a market need and an idea or inspiration. They structure, organize, launch and run businesses—typically taking on greater than normal financial risk in doing so, and all for one goal: to make a profit-a big profit. Often the greatest return doesn’t come in the income statement. It comes when the entrepreneur decides to sell the business.

As a final encore to the industry-driven education presented at The PPAI Expo 2017, yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today shared the do’s and don’ts of selling a company from Jamie Watson, MAS, CPA, a business services member who consults with promotional products companies and presented an education session on the topic at Expo. Today, we wrap up this series with more do’s and don’ts.

DO establish a relationship with an attorney who understands your goals. Attorneys can be valuable assets when they understand the long-term goals and work according to those goals. Some attorneys are deal makers; others are deal breakers. Sometimes attorneys can be rigid and focus on the small picture. Others work according to their own timetable and cause unnecessary delays. Some business owners are scared of their attorneys and/or the issues they are facing and let their attorneys run the show. An attorney works for you and should work according to the schedule you give him or her. It may take some sifting to find the right fit but once you find that fit it will be well worth the time. Always remember that attorneys are there to give you guidance, but at the end of the day, the decisions are yours to make because the consequences of those decisions fall on your shoulders.

DON’T forget to run your business. It is common to feel a financial and emotional pull between running and investing in the company and deciding any issues that come up will be someone else’s problem. The truth is that until you sign closing documents the company is your responsibility. Continue running the day-to-day operations just as if you were going to own the company for 10 more years. Most purchase agreements have a clause that stipulates the owner will run the company in the ordinary course of business. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a brand-new piece of equipment but it does mean that you should continue filling orders and treating customer matters with the same diligence as you always have. You want to close your chapter of the business with the same positive energy that you opened it with and ensure the buyer has a strong start to giving your customers the same positive experience you did.

DO start planning early. Whether your goal is to sell next year or 10 years from now it is never too early to begin planning for a sale. Most of the strategies to building a valuable company should be implemented long before you sell it and will make your company more successful. Much like selling a house, there is constant maintenance that should be done to ensure the company is strong and healthy for a potential buyer. Unlike selling a house, many of these maintenance items are behaviors that cannot be implemented overnight. Establish a succession plan and revisit the plan annually to be sure it still coincides with your long-term goals.

DON’T turn down the first offer just because you think you might get a better one. The best buyers are motivated to move quickly. It may be the best and/or only offer. There is a list of sellers who regret losing good deals because they waited too long for others. A bird in the hand is truly worth dozens in the bush.

DO enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you are a business owner, then you are a risk taker and an entrepreneur. You have provided yourself and most likely others a job. Take pride in knowing you have built something of value and take time to enjoy the reward for the efforts you have put forth. Good luck.

Source: Jamie Watson, MAS, CPA, is a financial analyst with Certified Marketing Consultants, Ltd., a PPAI business services member. She has been involved in various aspects of finance and accounting for more than 12 years and has provided consulting services for both supplier and distributor companies for more than seven years. Watson graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of business administration from Stetson University and earned her masters of accountancy from Manchester College. She qualified as a CPA in the state of Indiana where she worked for the regional accounting firm of Alerding & Co., LLC before joining the promotional products industry.