When and How to Sell Your Agency with a Profitable Acquisition
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What do you need to know about selling your agency? Is the market right for a sale or acquisition? What does a successful M&A deal look like? It's actually a good time to sell and there’s no shortage of buyers. If you are prepared and have guidance, an acquisition can be smoother and faster than you think. Today’s guest specializes in mergers and acquisitions in the agency space. In this conversation, she shares how to realistically determine your agency's valuation, two common questions about acquisition deals, and what you can expect when you sell your agency. Amanda Dixon is the founder and CEO of Barney, an M&A advisory firm for agencies. In her career, Amanda went through a couple of exits as an entrepreneur and describes the experience as atrocious. She saw a need for a company that understands the valuation of digital assets. As a result, she created a firm that has helped over 150 media, marketing, and tech companies through acquisitions. In this interview, we’ll discuss: How long does it take to sell your agency? How to realistically determine your agency valuation. Answers to 2 common questions about M&A for digital agencies. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Sponsors and Resources E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out e2msolutions.com/smartagency and get 10% off for the first three months of service. Selling a Digital Agency In an Unrepresented Market After growing her own business in the digital space, Amanda decided to sell and started looking for a professional valuation. Unfortunately, she found herself surrounded by people who just didn’t understand new technologies and how to value digital assets. She was selling her own, life-changing agency but felt ignored by the market. Since larger firms were not returning her calls, she went with a broker who didn’t have the experience or sophistication to sell a business the size of hers and the results were not quite what she expected. Through that experience, Amanda discovered a huge opportunity for a niche firm for this kind of acquisition. Businesses valued How Long Does It Take to Sell Your Agency? Selling your agency can be a painful and complicated process. Many times, agency owners get into it not really knowing what to expect. It can drag on for a long time if, for example, the buyer keeps coming back with last-minute changes. In these situations, agency owners may be afraid to pull out of the sale for fear or financial repercussions. In the height of the pandemic, without in-person meetings, the process took around 90 days. With in-person meetings back, this adds a couple of weeks and sometimes months to the process. Overall, in the worst-case scenario, it is currently taking her team around 5 months to complete a sale. For Amanda, the most eye-opening discovery working in M&A is that it doesn’t have to drag on forever. For starters, one of the things that delays the process the most is finding the buyers. Since her firm is focused on digital-based business, that part of the process is faster. Approved sellers that work with them are referred to several interested potential buyers. This is good because deal fatigue is a very real thing. Having a buyer pool interested in your particular industry helps to create a sense of competition. With several potential buyers, you can have more control and ultimately choose the one that makes sense financially and fits your team and your culture. How to Realistically Determine Your Agency Valuation  Agency owners are typically very eager to know their agency’s worth. The multiple of EBITDA formula is a good place to start and is what Amanda’s team analyses first. EBITDA = Earnings Before Interest Tax Depreciation Amoritization Of course, this doesn't offer a c
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