As the holiday season is upon us, we took the opportunity to canvas our clients and business associates to come up with 12 ideas that we think an entrepreneur can implement monthly.  Now we recognize that not all industries are the same, but we think if you have these 12 things (or can work to get them), your company will be more valuable than your industry peers.

1. Recurring Revenue

The more revenue you have from automatically recurring contracts or subscriptions, the more valuable your business will be to a buyer. Even if subscriptions are not the norm in your industry, if you can find some form of recurring revenue it will make your company much more valuable than those of your competitors.

2. Something Different

Buyers buy what they cannot easily replicate on their own, which means companies with a unique product or service that is difficult for a competitor to replicate are more valuable than a company that sells the same commodity as everyone else in their industry.  If you don’t have a unique product, can you differentiate on service?

3. Growth

Acquirers looking to fuel their top line revenue growth through acquisition will pay a premium for your business if it is growing much faster than your industry overall.  Now we don’t recommend growing at the sake of profitability (we have seen too much of that this year in the tech space), but think about what else you can do (different marketing or business development activities) that may spur new sales.

4. Caché

Tired old companies often try to buy sex appeal through the acquisition of a trendy young company in their industry.  If you are the darling of your industry trade media, expect to get a premium acquisition offer.  Are there some industry influencers (internet sites, bloggers, podcasters and even magazines) that you can connect with?

5. Location

If you have a great location with natural physical characteristics that are difficult to replicate (imagine an oceanfront restaurant on a strip of beach where the city has stopped granting new licenses to operate), you’ll have buyers who understand your industry interested in your location as well as your business.  Even if you can’t move your shop or storefront, think about why you picked the location in the first place and why you stay there. If you can’t come up with anything – consider whether a move should be considered.

6. Diversity

Acquirers pay a premium for companies that naturally hedge the loss of a single customer. Ensure no customer amounts to more than 10 percent of your revenue and your company will be more valuable than an industry peer with just a few big customers.

7. Predictability

If you’ve mastered a way to win customers and documented your sales funnel with a predictable set of conversion rates, your secret customer-acquiring formula will make your business more valuable to an acquirer than an industry peer who doesn’t have a clue where their next customer will come from.

8. Clean Books

Companies that invest in audited statements have financials that are generally viewed by acquirers as more trustworthy and therefore worth more. You may want to get your books reviewed professionally each year even if audited statements are not the norm in your industry. Audits are a pain and costly, but even reviewed statements that easily map to your internal monthlies are a good start.

9. A second-in-command

Companies with a second-in-command who has agreed to stay on post sale are more valuable than businesses where all the power and knowledge are in the hands of the owner.  Note – family members are not always great 2iCs – buyers will think they will “check-out” too and remain loyal to you at sale time.  Even better – groom a few different options for acquirers – maybe its three different operations leads, each with their own strengths /weaknesses.

10. Electronic Documents

Do you have copies of all your employee contracts easily accessible?  What about licenses?  Key supplier/customer contracts?  Health and Safety matters?  Key policies and procedures?  If you answered no to any of these, consider a summer project to clean out your filing cabinet and digitize all these files (and assign someone to keep this up), you’ll be thanking yourself when someone wants to conduct due diligence on you.

11. Supply Chain

Like selling to too few clients, are you overly reliant on one or two suppliers?  If so – seek out other options and run a few in-house pilots.  It can be expensive at first, but well worth the insurance premium if you ever need them.

12. Happy Customers

Being able to objectively demonstrate that your customers are happy and intend to re-purchase in the future will make your business more valuable than an industry peer that does not have a means of tracking customer satisfaction. Good reviews are great, so are testimonials.

Like a rising tide that lifts all boats, your industry typically defines a range of multiples within which your business is likely to sell for; but whether you fall at the bottom or the top of the range comes down to factors that have nothing to do with what you do, but instead, how you do it.

If you’re wondering how your business stacks up, take the13-minute Value Builder Score questionnaire and find out…. Click Here