One of the most important steps to making your business viable for sale is systematization. Your business needs to be made of a series of systems that can be executed by anybody – not just you or select employees.
Prospective buyers want to know that they can take your business and run with it. Not only do they need to be able to run it as is, but they need your business in good enough shape that they can run however they want after you step down.
So how do you systematize a business and make it sellable?
==> Hire a Chief Operating Officer
If you plan on stepping down after the sale, you need to have a Chief Operating Officer (COO) or Director of Operations.
This is the person who understands how to run a business through and through. This is the person the new owner needs to be able to rely on once you’re gone.
The CEO of a company is the person who sets the strategy and direction of the company. The COO is the person who runs the day-to-day operations. You need someone like that before trying to sell.
==> Look for Black Boxes (Including You)
A “black box” in terms of systematization is anyone who holds the key to a specific operation in your company and can’t be replaced without losing vital systems.
For example, if there’s only one programmer in your company who knows how to work a specific program, you have a black box. If only one person knows how to operate the switchboard, you have a black box.
You can also be a black box. If there are business processes that only you can do, you’re the black box.
Black boxes need to be eliminated before your business can be sold. Identify tasks that only one person knows how to do and make it a point to get those processed documented.
==> Get in the Habit of Creating Systems
Whenever possible, get in the habit of creating systems. For instance, instead of just assigning one person responsible for social media, ask that person to also create a social media guidebook.
That guidebook can be used to teach others how to do what they do. This is useful anytime a position needs to be scaled, anytime someone gets promoted and leaves an old post, or anytime an employee leaves.
==> Employ Progressive Systematization
Pick one aspect of your business and spend some time brainstorming with that department on how things can be more systematized.
For example, how can customer service be more systematized? Do you need a ticket system? A phone prompt system? Better training? More service reps?
Move from department to department and systematize anything that is running ad hoc rather than through a system.
Taking your business from a bunch of people doing tasks as they come to a business made up of a series of systems is a big step. It’s a necessary one if you want to successfully sell your company.