Maintain the Value of Your Antiques, Art Or Collectibles Business

Can you sell your antiques, art or collectibles business while competing with the multitude of other small businesses also being sold?

By the year 2029, $10 trillion will change hands due to the baby boomers selling their businesses. At the same time, the U.S. economy is losing manufacturing-related jobs, which means that more than ever, folks will be joining the ranks of the self-employed, starting, growing and wanting to sell their business. If the market is saturated with businesses for sale, you need to put your best foot forward.

A year ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article describing how many business owners are not prepared to sell their companies. This article, “Want to Sell a Business,” was addressed to owners who want retire on the proceeds from selling their businesses.

I know many antique, art and collectible business owners who are so tied up with the day-to-day business operations that they never look to the future and ask “What will my business be worth when I’m ready to sell? Can I retire on what the business can be sold for? How can I make the business more valuable? What’s my exit/sell strategy?” The result? Most entrepreneurs are disappointed in their business’ value.

Many entrepreneurs, by their very nature, do not enjoy bookkeeping. They don’t take the time to understand the financial planning and bookkeeping necessary for banking and long-range planning. Too often, small businesses do not have balance sheets and income statements prepared annually. Instead, the business income and expense is reported for income-tax purposes on the owner’s income-tax return. But by not preparing balance sheets and income statements, financial data is lost.

Here are three significant things you can do to enhance the value of your business:

1) develop long-range plans

2) keep proper records

3) develop and follow an overall business plan.

Long-range planning

Take the time to understand the financial aspects of your business, and make sure you understand your bookkeeping process. You may not want to, but you should be able to do your own bookkeeping, and you should certainly be able to answer bookkeeping questions that a potential buyer may ask.

Prepare annual balance sheets and income statements

A long history of professionally prepared financial statements will enhance the value of your business and help educate you (the owner) so you can make informed judgments for business improvements and increased profits. When it comes time to sell your business, the financial records will instill a sense of confidence in potential buyers. Most potential buyers will demand proper financial records.

Develop and follow an overall business plan

Developing and following an overall business plan is important in order to set goals for growth, profits and your retirement after the sale of the business. It is also a document that will help your potential buyer understand the current and future value of your business.

The antique, art or collectibles business has been good to you and will be better when you take steps to enhance its value.

One note of caution: All business income must be reported. Cash sales put in the pocket and not reported will never give you the business value you deserve.

– Jim Sturgill is a director of WorthPoint and founding partner of” Sturgill & Associates LLP, a D.C.- and Baltimore-area CPA firm.

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  • One of the major problems is that the real value of the inventory becomes too high for most purchasers. To liquidate one’s entire inventory is difficult as there is often no way to do so without heavily discounting the real value in the items. On top of that there is the high capital gains tax which further reduces the figure. This will surely rise in the near future.

    As antique/collectible dealers, we are far better off to continue selling online at whatever level we feel we want to in our retirement.

    May I suggest that Worthpoint become business brokers as an additional revenue stream. This could be open to trade and the public alike.
    Who knows how big this could become.

  • Dear Jim : A few questions. Plus how to find a buyer for my business? thank-you Gerald

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