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5 Keys to Building a Valuable Business

There are so many reasons to start a business. The freedom, the flexibility, and the control may be appealing.



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There are so many reasons to start a business. The freedom, the flexibility, and the control may be appealing. Or the chance to make money doing something you truly love and the ability to be your own boss and set your own hours. 

But starting a business isn’t easy, and growing it is even harder. Building up from a good idea into a sustainable and profitable company is excessively difficult, and the probabilities are not on your side. 

Only 40% of startups will survive their first three years of business. Whereas previously operating businesses frequently come with a sustained business model, a built-in client base, and other advantages, which is why I frequently advise entrepreneurs to buy a business over starting from scratch.

As a business broker, my job is to help entrepreneurs in their business journey. Whether they are buying or looking to sell their business, I assist them with every stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Through my 20+ years in business brokerage, I have worked alongside hundreds of business owners and early-stage entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses from a concept to the point of selling. 

I regularly advise clients on strategies and activities that will help them increase the value of their business so that when it comes time to list their business on the market, it will get them the maximum return on their investment. 

How It Began

Ever since the outset of my career, I have been dedicated to helping others grow their businesses. Early on, I had the opportunity to help 50 First Nations entrepreneurs with business plans, training, and mentoring. Since then, 47 of those entrepreneurs quickly grew their businesses and saw success in their unique industries. 

After this, I started an Ottawa franchise of Sunbelt Canada and have since expanded with locations all across the country. 

Through my work as a business broker, I have realized that my business growth, development, and entrepreneurship skills could be expanded to help other entrepreneurs grow their businesses. 

5 Keys to Building Valuable Businesses

You can attempt to sell your business anytime – but you cannot always get the value you want out of it. In the early years of our company, most of our sales were small, averaging less than $500,000. However, as we gained expertise and grew our own company, the size of the businesses we were selling grew along with us, and we now handle sales anywhere from $250,000 to $50 million. 

In order to help businesses grow and increase their valuation, I recommend a few key strategies to entrepreneurs.

1. Plan effectively

First, it’s vitally important to plan effectively. Creating a detailed business plan helps orient you for the decisions you need to make in your business’ immediate future. It gives you goals to look forward to, and core values to turn back to when you reach a difficult decision point. 

A nice thing about business planning is that it has no one size fits all approach – anyone can create business plans; just stick to the format that works best for you. 

“Success in business does not depend on what you say, what you hear, what you feel, what you see. It depends on what you do.” – Selwyn Goodwin

2. Be flexible

Now, though you have a detailed business plan, your plan doesn’t have all the answers. That’s why it’s very important for entrepreneurs to be flexible and willing to adapt to their rapidly changing industry. Like many small businesses, my company has weathered a few recessions, impacting our sales and revenue. 

We have experienced as much as a 70% drop in revenue year over year. A huge part of our survival during this time of revenue loss and recession was being flexible. Instead of sticking to one pre-determined price point, we kept our costs flexible to shrink them as needed. As a result, our sales bounced back quickly, and we were able to preserve the company’s infrastructure.

3. Ongoing training

Another huge key to success as a startup is ongoing training. Investing in regular employee training will help ensure that they are experts in their fields and can handle the work you send them. Another reason ongoing training hugely benefits business owners is because it improves retention rates. 

When employees are actively involved in training, they feel that their company is helping provide them with value, and they are more likely to stay for a longer period of time. 

4. Passion for clients and customers

The next key to entrepreneurial success is a real passion and devotion to achieving the goals of your customers or clients. Whether you’re selling a product or service, creating value for your customers and focusing on client retention will ensure your success over the long term. 

Now, in practice, this looks like getting to know clients and their needs, committing to customer service training, and constantly inviting feedback to determine how best to serve your customers. Being devoted to achieving your clients’ goals will be evidenced through your work, and will affect the customer experience overall.

5. Always innovate

Finally, your business can only succeed if you consistently innovate and drive procedures forward. This goes beyond just being flexible, because to really be successful over the long term and build value in your business, you need to encourage innovation and creativity amongst every individual employee. A culture of innovation across your organization will help push you forward and ensure your business adapts to new technologies and processes. In my entrepreneurial journey, integrating innovations in technology, recruiting, and support systems into our business practices has helped us continue expanding. 

Looking to The Future

At the root of it all, my company is built around honesty. We encourage a culture of honesty and transparency, whether that be through honest communication with our clients, dealing with banks, lawyers, accountants, wealth planners, others, and of course, between employees. 

This core value has helped orient us through difficult decisions we’ve made throughout our many years of experience in business brokering. It has helped us recruit and retain great experts who are well-trained, well-supported, and motivated to achieve our client’s goals. 

Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, establish your core values now, and allow them to orient you throughout your business decisions, whether you’re buying a new business, or growing yours and looking forward to the day you’ll be able to sell it. I can not wait to see what tomorrow brings for you. 

Greg Kells is the Owner and Broker of Record of Sunbelt Canada. Sunbelt is the most successful business brokerage in Canada. They have been successfully growing and selling businesses for over 20 years, with Greg at the forefront. Greg is a successful business broker, the president of the International Business Brokers Association of Canada, and a serial entrepreneur, dedicated to helping out entrepreneurs and small business owners in their business buying and selling journeys.

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By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make



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Are you completely new to networking?

Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?

Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

Get more leads and referrals

This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.

Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

Grow your business

By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make, and you will be able to grow your business.

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2023 is just around the corner, and you have the chance to make it the year you make networking work for your business. And the benefits could be incredibly amazing for your business, just like they have been for ours, and many business owners we have worked with over the years.

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