The First Day of Business is When you prepare to sell

Oct. 27, 2008
p>Dear Readers: The thought of selling your company may seem strange. Truth is, however, it is a necessary concern when doing business in the security industry. Key statement: “The day you start your business is the day you prepare to sell your business.” This is the opinion of Ken Gould, who has been in the position of starting a security business, and like other security dealers, selling that company. “I have seen all sides of the business starting as the founder of a small business and selling to the largest company in the world,” he says. Gould sold his company, Gould Security, New York, NY in 1999 to ADT. The time was right to sell and according to Gould, he wanted to advance his career. He left ADT in 2003 with the title of general manager of the Manhattan branch. He is currently senior VP of Casey Systems, New York, NY and CEO of Statewide Monitoring. That small company he started some twenty years ago has brought him to this point. Gould is also very involved and has held several key positions in the alarms associations in the Tri-state area. An attachment to the business you start is normal, he asserts. “Be prepared to deal with the emotional loss of the business. It is hard to let it go,” Gould says. Having all your affairs in order can take some of the pressure off you when it comes time to sell. Gould’s advice below is from the seller’s perspective. Our “Leaders Roundtable” this month, on page 66, can enlighten you on what the buyer looks for, as well as the process in general. “Always have customer agreements signed with a clearly defined initial and automatic renewal provision, and length terms clearly stated. Make sure they are standard industry contracts that have the proper language to protect you,” Gould says. “Use a call forward line (line that you own) for your central station connections to make it easy to move accounts,” he continues. “Make sure you keep proper insurance to protect your company. Having an industry standard automation system makes it easy for the acquisition team to pull information.” Gould further points out that you should get the most of your profits since you worked hard for them. In addition, he warns, “keep a hold on your over 90 days accounts receivable—most companies do not buy over 90 days.” He also states, “Get an offer letter. Make sure you understand your position in the new company. If retiring, get a consulting agreement for several months.” Addressing these concerns will help you with protecting your guarantee, according to Gould. It will also help your clients get past the integration process, he suggests, which is something else you should be very clear on. For your own well being, have a solid plan for the future and a good financial planner, he concludes.