Deciding to take your company public is a huge decision and cannot be taken lightly or executed impulsively. In general, a company will have been around for awhile and gone through a lot of ups and downs before it reaches the point that it makes sense to go public. There are clearly a lot of different factors at play when considering whether to make this transition, and it is important to remember that what is good for one company may not work for another. With that in mind, here are 6 questions to ask before taking your company public:
1. Do we have the right people?
Company leaders tend to focus on the financial picture of the company when deciding to go public. This is obviously a critical piece of the decision, but it is just one part in a sea of many details. It does not matter how well the company is doing if the company has not brought the right people on board. Going public requires a seasoned investment banker, accountants, attorneys, and a whole lot of other experienced and often expensive professionals.
2. Do we have a good story?
In addition to touting the company’s financial successes, it will be important to connect with prospective investors and the public. This usually involves things like telling how the business got started, its competitive edge, and long-term goals. There really has to be a very compelling story to generate a healthy amount of interest and get people excited about what the firm has to offer.
3. Can we handle the increased scrutiny?
One of the biggest adjustments that has to be made when going public is complying with the many rules and regulations. For public ventures, transparency is not just encouraged but required. There will be all sorts of disclosures required, and for companies or leaders with a sordid past, this may be hard to handle. As a result, everyone has to ensure that they are prepared to handle the increased scrutiny.
4. Do we need to make any changes first?
It does not make a whole lot of sense to go public and then completely transform the nature of the business. Investors may feel misled and the momentum that built and led to going public in the first place will likely be stopped in its tracks. Therefore, if there are any changes the company wants to make, with regard to production, client base, target markets, or anything else that will drastically affect the bottom line, it is a good idea to see how this goes before actually going public.
5. Do we really have what it takes?
For some companies, success as a private company does not always translate to success as a public company. Time and again, seemingly successful IPOs have ended up floundering because of business tactics, the economic climate, or just plain bad luck. Even though it could be a total gamble, company leaders have to take a long, hard look at whether the firm really has what it takes to go public.
6. Is there a different or better option available?
For many entrepreneurs, going public is the ultimate goal. It is often a sign of great success and impressive expansion. But, there are sometimes other, better ways to infuse capital or grow the business, without going through the arduous IPO process. Younger businesses and those in fluctuating markets may want to hold off or at least pursue other avenues before jumping right into the public sphere.