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May 12, 2015 Article 1 min read

Senior management at any company will need the right advice, and earlier in the process than they might expect if they hope to see the greatest value in a sale or an IPO.

This was the general consensus at a recent meeting of private equity industry professionals at an ACG Intergrowth conference breakout discussion entitled "Planning for a Successful Exit," facilitated by Plante Moran audit partner Joseph Adams.

The session, held at last month’s ACG Intergrowth conference in Orlando, was one of the more crowded tables in the room. Clearly, setting firms up for a strong exit is on our minds. Attendees included consultants from Beijing, a leader of a business that was created specifically to assemble team members for exit strategies, and private equity firm partners, among others.
The group discussed everything from an analysis of real estate – both the ownership structure and valuation – to how mapping out and providing due diligence around the entire universe of sellers can help ensure success.
In fact, the selling firm might not be aware of the range of potential buyers. They are necessarily focused on their own customers, suppliers and competitors. They may not realize how their capabilities could complement a player who is completely outside of their current circle. 
Setting a firm up for success might include ensuring they establish the right image, through strong public relations strategies, in the months and even years before a sale.
It can also include making sure that all of their financial statements are in order, and that relevant data of interest to buyers is put into the right formats to tell the story of the firm.
Of course, there's no one size that fits all approach. There's a tremendous importance of customizing the approach to the portfolio company. The game plan can be radically different if it’s a family business vs. one that's already private equity owned.
Founders and other company managers are of course busy building their business, and are not focused on, or even aware of, the strategies that will bring them to a successful sale or IPO. They count on us to know how to pull it all together for them.