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Value: John Warrillow

Entice buyers with a teaser Add to ...

One of the most successful entrepreneurs I know used to keep a two-page summary of his business on his laptop. He was constantly tweaking it with his firm’s latest achievements, wordsmithing it from one day to the next.

It had probably gone through a hundred iterations before I finally asked him what it was.

“It’s my teaser,” he explained.

At the time, having no idea what he was talking about, I asked him to explain.

A teaser is a one- or two-page document used as part of the process of selling your business.

It describes your company (without revealing its name, hence the label “teaser”). It’s sent by your mergers and acquisitions adviser to companies that might have an interest in buying your business.

If a buyer expresses interest based on the teaser, he or she is asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement and is then given the full write-up on your business – and the dance begins.

My friend carried and tweaked his teaser for years before he actually put his company on the market. It was his way of reminding himself what drove up the value of his business and how he wanted it to be positioned in the market.

Years later, when I started to think about selling my research business, I started drafting a teaser document for my company.

The process got me focused on the one or two key metrics that would make or break the selling of my business. It allowed me to rehearse, wordsmith and tinker with exactly how I wanted to position my business, and how I would explain to interested parties the opportunity it presented.

By the time I actually put my company on the market, I had spent so much time tweaking my teaser, I had my pitch down cold.

If you want to write a teaser for your company, here are some things you may want to include:

  • Short (approximately 100-word) description of your business – for instance, what you sell and to whom – without revealing your company name.
  • Basic financial highlights of the past year, including top-line revenue, growth rate and profit margin.
  • Customer retention rate or satisfaction statistics.
  • Your moat: What differentiates your business from its competitors.
  • Brand-name customers who do business with you.
  • Summary of the market size.

Like a tease, provide enough to arouse the excitement of prospective buyers but omit just enough to leave them wanting more.

Special to The Globe and Mail

John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He writes a blog about building a valuable – sellable – company. He is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which will be released in April.

Follow on Twitter: @JohnWarrillow

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