Top Dollar M&A: Capitalize on the Power of (Your) Niche

Within this blog our constant mantra is The Power of Niche. It’s no surprise that the broader magazine publishing industry has taken notice of this fact and the steady revenue of niche brands. This also means mergers and acquisitions are on the rise, and that M&A is a hot, hot, hot topic with niche media CEOs.

It’s not easy to contemplate selling your niche media company, it’s often very personal. How do you separate yourself as Publisher and move to the business of selling YOUR business? Where do you start? And what if a buyer approaches you? Will you be ready?

UpcomingNiche CEO Summit featured speaker Dan Oswald, CEO of Simplify Compliance/BLR, has been down this road many times. We recently interviewed him and asked him to lay out the steps to take now to ensure your company is ready for potential buyers.

Dan shared his guidance on when to start preparing, M&A benchmarks, and coming trends.

If a niche publisher is thinking about selling, what are 3 steps they can take right now?

Three steps every niche publisher who is thinking about selling must take right now to prepare for the best possible outcome are:

1)    Keep growing your business.  Don’t get distracted by the prospects of selling or fail to continue to invest in growth.  Operate your business as if you’re going to continue to own it because you just might.  Plus any attempts to cut spending or investment will be seen by a buyer and raise concerns.  A healthy, growing business will get you the best price.

2)    Get your financials in order.  Make sure you have at least 3 years of clean financials prepared by a CPA. GAAP financials would be ideal, but clean cash-based numbers are acceptable. If there are owner-related expenses that would not be incurred by the buyer, clearly identify them to arrive at an adjusted EBITDA or net income.

3)    Prepare yourself for a long and difficult process. No sale of a company is fun.  You’re going to be asked a lot of questions.  You might hear things about your business that you don’t like. There will be requests for a lot of information.  At some point you’ll need to just grind it out.  Prepare for it up front and keep your eyes on the prize!

 Are there some important M&A benchmarks that publishers should reach before they try to sell?

There are certainly benchmarks that are important.  And there are certain points in size or scale where businesses become more valuable. Generally speaking, the larger a company, the more interest it will attract and, therefore, the higher the valuations.  And a growing business, regardless of size, will be more attractive to buyers than one that is in decline.  Sounds obvious and maybe it is, but often sellers don’t consider the trajectory of the business when they think about valuation.

Finally, the make-up of the revenue also plays a part in the valuation.  Digital products or solutions and recurring revenue tend to bring higher valuations.

 What trends do you see coming in regard to new business revenue models?

I’m not sure they are as much coming trends as they are current trends, but here are a few:

–       Media companies replacing agencies in helping clients reach a targeted, desirable audience through a multitude of channels

–       Advertisers/clients demanding more demographic, psychographic, and purchase data on the prospects they’re willing to reach

–       The continued proliferation of apps, software, and workflow tools with high-value content embedded

Editor’s note: Join other B2B Publishing CEOs to hear Dan speak about Trends in M&A to Secure Top-Dollar Sale at the Niche CEO Summit, June 21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. We have a B2C CEO Day on June 22 with M&A specific to consumer publishers too!



top dollarMore about Dan: Dan Oswald is CEO of Simplify Compliance/BLR, a diversified training and information company that offers innovative solutions, authoritative content, and practical, easy-to-use software tools to meet regulatory compliance obligations and adopt best practices in financial services, human capital management, telecommunications, and healthcare markets. At Simplify Compliance, Dan has orchestrated a number of mergers and acquisitions that have propelled the company’s growth and entrance into new markets.


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