How to Sell Your Company – Advice From a CEO Who’s Been There

By John Boitnott John Boitnott has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 27, 2023

If you’re an entrepreneur, you may want to sell your company at some point. According to one study, more than 50% of business owners plan to do so somewhere along their journey.

Whether you’re actively looking to make a move or just thinking about the future, there are crucial steps you can take to prepare for a successful sale.

Recently at NetSuiteWorld in Las Vegas, I sat down with John Ling, the CEO of home decor brand MacKenzie-Childs Ltd, to get his insights on this topic.

John Ling’s Journey

Before diving into the specifics, let’s take a moment to learn about John Ling’s background. He’s had a fascinating career journey that’s given him a unique perspective on scaling and preparing businesses for potential sales.

John Ling, CEO of MacKenzie-Childs Ltd.

Ling started with undergrad degrees in Engineering and Computer Sciences. He ventured into the manufacturing industry, working with big names like PepsiCo and FritoLay for about ten years. His career took a turn when he decided to pursue an MBA in finance at SMU, leading him to roles at Medco and Merck in the healthcare fulfillment sector. Ling’s retail experience began when he joined Crate and Barrel, then a $200 million company. Over his 15 years there, he contributed to the company’s growth to $2 billion.

After his tenure at Crate and Barrel, Ling found himself captivated by the mid-market space, particularly smaller companies. He was intrigued by the opportunity to join private equity-owned companies, serve as the CEO, professionalize them, and create value that could benefit everyone involved. He fell in love with this role, and that’s what he does now. It’s given him insight into how you, the entrepreneur, might want to prepare if you ever choose to sell your company.

You Can’t Sell Your Company Without a Strong Foundation

Ling’s experience in both large corporations and smaller companies has taught him the importance of building a strong foundation in your business. Even if you’re not planning to sell your company right now, the same principles can apply to ensure it’s always in the best possible shape.

1. Discipline and Process

At the core of John’s approach is discipline and process. He believes that creating a culture of discipline in your business is essential, regardless of its size. This means setting up structured processes that ensure your business operations run efficiently.

2. Talent Management

Ling highlights the significance of having the right people in your organization. Identify individuals who can embrace and lead change. When a company has people who know what they’re doing, it sends a strong signal to potential investors or buyers.

3. Planning and Vision

Investors want to know where your business is headed. Having a clear plan and vision for the future is critical. It’s not just about what your company is now, but where it’s going. Entrepreneurs often underestimate the value of having a roadmap, but it can make a massive difference when attracting investors.

How to Create Value

When an investor or buyer looks at a company, they’re trying to assess whether the team has its act together. That’s where the three principles Ling has emphasized come into play.

1. Discipline in Business Operations

The more disciplined your business is, the more attractive it becomes to investors. A well-organized, efficient operation is an indication of a well-run business.

“How do you create discipline around process in your business?” Ling asks. “You don’t have to go with the biggest and the best, but take a look at your business, think about what makes it strong, identify those important processes and the people that are around them and add discipline to the process.”

2. An Experienced and Committed Team

If you want to sell your company someday, you need the right team to get there. Having the right people in your organization who understand your business is invaluable. Investors want to see that there are competent and committed individuals who can drive the company’s growth.

“When somebody looks at a company that they want to invest in or acquire, they look to see whether the team has their act together or not,” Lings says. “It’s really as simple as that. Are they working on the important things? And if the answer is yes, that allows them to take the next step.”

3. Think About Future Growth

A clear plan and vision for your business’s future are essential, whether you want to sell your company or not. Investors are looking for opportunities to create value in the future. If you can demonstrate where your company is headed and how an investor can play a role in that journey, you’ll be much more appealing.

What it Takes to Sell Your Company

While Ling’s experience includes preparing businesses for sale through technology adoption, the principles he has shared are technology-agnostic. Building a culture of discipline, nurturing the right talent, and having a plan for your company’s future are universal strategies that can set you on a path to success, whether you’re actively looking to sell or just aiming to make your business more robust and attractive.

In conclusion, John Ling’s insights provide a valuable roadmap for entrepreneurs and business leaders. By embracing discipline, fostering a talented team, and having a clear vision, you can create a business that’s not only appealing to investors but also one that’s set up for sustained success.

By John Boitnott John Boitnott has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

John Boitnott is a reporter at Grit Daily on From the Ground Up and Grit Daily's Daily Update. He is a journalist and digital strategist who has worked at TV, print, radio and Internet companies for almost 25 years. As a professional writer with a background in the newsroom, he's advised and created content for a wide variety of companies and publishers, helping them build their popularity. He has also written for Entrepreneur, Motley Fool, Inc., BusinessInsider, Fortune, NBC, Fast Company, USA Today and Venturebeat.

Read more

More GD News