Controlling costs to increase profits before selling your business

The goal of many business owners is to maximize profits which can be done by increasing prices or decreasing costs. Many companies have tried to do both but concentrate on minimizing prices. First they reduce staff levels or they may automate and change the manufacturing process to achieve efficiencies. Others have outsourced manufacturing to foreign countries.

On April 29, I wrote a blog about manufacturing in China – is there an advantage or it is becoming too expensive and in a few years, manufacturing will be returning back to North America. I read in a local newspaper yesterday that a Canadian company was moving their manufacturing plant back to Canada because China was becoming too expensive. My predictions were correct but the timing was much faster than I originally thought.

The stock markets and the financial markets believe that outsourcing to a foreign country is far cheaper than producing in North America. It is for some products but those which are very automated processes, there is not a lot of labor costs in the cost of the goods sold. Businesses go to China and the Far East to save on labor costs. As processes are becoming more automated, the savings that businesses incur keep getting smaller. The costs of transportation, the cost of having to have your inventory in a container on the water for four weeks means that your working capital is tied up, you cannot go just in time delivery easily because you have to fill up an entire container.

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Why is normalized income so important when selling a business?

When you sell a business, everyone wants to know how much money does it make? Although that may seem like a very straight forward question, the answer is not that straight forward. Private business owners typically put in many personal expenses through their business, they may income split with family members, they may put a variety of other expenses through that will not be a required expense for the new owner. The definition of normalized earnings is the earnings that should be enjoyed by the new business owner after he/she acquires the business?

The items which are considered normalized earnings are often disputed by the buyer and seller because the value of the business is dependent upon the definition of profits/normalized earnings of the business. What is an extra expense to one person may be normal to another. Clearly paying a salary to a family member who is not working in the business is not a normal expense and would be added back.

I have seen people say that I went on a business trip and say it was personal. They claim that they saw one client in another city then continued on a holiday – is that personal or business? I knew of another who was a member of a buying consortium and the members would meet once a year in their respective countries. They discussed business for an hour or two, was the trip business or personal?

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