When selling your home, it’s important to get it ready to go on the market. This means listening to your Realtor® who might recommend decluttering, staging and even some minor upgrades such as paint or new carpet so that your home looks its very best to potential buyers.

Same goes for selling a business.

Before you go to market with a business for sale, Karen Schorkopf, Managing Director of Brentwood-based Tennessee Business Brokers, says there’s work to be done to ensure your business is ready to be sold. We call this Exit Planning.

“What sets us apart is the experience of our team,” Schorkopf says. “Very few firms have the depth of experience of our brokers. We have several M&A advisors who started their careers on Wall Street with tremendous experience working with national buyers and private equity groups. At the same time, most of us have lived in Middle TN for several decades and are extremely well connected locally. In addition to serving smaller main street businesses, we have a particular strength when it comes to working with lower middle market businesses (from $3 million to $30 million in size).

Also, we have a large marketing and advertising budget which is part of the reason that we close 90+ percent of our listings (way above national averages of 30 to 40%). “We have exceptional skills which are necessary to close deals -- including financial analysis, marketing, due diligence, business valuations, inter-mediation, lending/underwriting, and negotiations.”

She said one key element that can affect a sale that is often overlooked is timing.

“If your company needs to be tweaked before you can accomplish a successful transition, we will help you develop an exit plan to reach your goals,” Schorkopf said. “It is necessary sometimes to start planning several years before you sell your company. We have exit planning services with a detailed roadmap to help you arrive at your desired destination.”

Pathway to success

Schorkopf’s career path began at Duke University where she realized understanding the economy came naturally to her. That skill led her to Wall Street where she spent a year in what she calls a ‘very intense’ commercial bank training program, which was followed by several years working in international investment banking.

It was the early 80s and she remembers being one of few women calling on mostly male CEOs around the world.

“It was a fun and challenging early career and I had a lot of awesome mentors in those days,” she said.

She started a family not long after that and left international travel behind so she could focus on raising her three sons. Being a stay-at-home mom, she says, was by far the best role she has ever experienced. During those years, she engaged actively in her community through volunteer work.

But her career would eventually lead her back into the banking world, only this time at the community level working with small business owners and entrepreneurs which she has been doing for more than 30 years.

“I love working with business owners,” she says. “They are the American dream! Helping business owners with one of the most important decisions of their lives is an honor. I love what I do, and I am so excited that Tennessee Business Brokers brings a unique and boutique experience to all business owners in Middle Tennessee.”

The 2020 effect

While 2020 -- and the pandemic that defines it -- had a dramatic effect on the economy, the stock market and many smaller businesses, Schorkopf says there is a bright spot when it comes to selling a business in Tennessee: demand is tremendous right now.

“Some of this demand is due to the COVID shutdowns and challenges in other states,” she said. “Also, Middle Tennessee is seen as ‘business friendly’ as well as a great place to live, work and play. Interest rates are low, so financing a business acquisition and real estate is very attractive. It has never been a better time to sell your business in Middle Tennessee.”

Schorkopf’s team has a track record of closing 90 percent of the transactions it engages.

How?

“We have more experience. We invest heavily in our marketing of businesses for sale. We are well connected to buyers, private equity groups, investors and strategic buyers all across the U.S. because of our many decades of experience. We roll up our sleeves and work very hard on each and every opportunity and we inspire trust and confidence which leads to referrals, our best source of new business.”

One former client said he felt the TN Business Broker’s team was instrumental in getting their niche manufacturing company sold.

“Karen did a great job. Her prep works is better than any other broker in the Mid-South. First, she prepared a comprehensive market-based pricing analysis to help us understand where our business would likely sell. She quickly brought many qualified buyers including many strategic buyers and Private Equity Groups from across the US. She helped not only us, but also the ultimate buyers in structuring a deal that would work for everyone. Her 30+ years in banking and finance helped the buyers navigate options for finding the best funding sources. All the while, she kept everything confidential. The price and terms exceeded our expectations. She is a rare find when it comes to professionalism.”

Karen and her husband Paul live in Franklin with their Cocker Spaniel, Baxter. Their hobbies and activities include biking, hiking, travel, and gardening. You may also see their antique Good Humor Ice Cream truck at community events and music Festivals around town. MusicCityIceCream.com.

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