Dependency on owner-too many businesses suffer from the all-controlling owner who not only knows how to do everything but also insists on being part of everything. Don’t let yourself be the bottleneck. A buyer may pass or offer a lower amount when they see how big the shoes they have to fill are.
Customer concentration-no buyer wants there to be a small number of key customers doing a disproportionate share of your volume. Diversify your customer base and realize if you have a highly concentrated customer (or industry) base you may be asked to include an erosion clause that lowers the price if a top customer leaves.
Financial statements and tax returns differ-there isn’t much to say about this. Have good accounting systems and safeguards and accurate statements. Don’t rely on too many adjustments for the tax return or an overwhelming amount of ‘add-backs’ (to profit).
Dependency on a key employee-a company recently had severe problems when their top salesperson left and took most of their accounts. This problem could manifest itself with a technical expert, machine operator or office manager (who knows how everything in the firm works; see dependency on the owner above).
Poor lease or no lease available-you may think a month-to-month arrangement is great as it offers flexibility. Buyers and banks think about how expensive it is to move. In fact, for other than a professional type business (like consulting, accounting, etc.) your buyer won’t get a bank for longer than the term of the lease including options. Too short of a lease means too short of a seller and/or bank loan and too high of payments to make the deal feasible.