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For many entrepreneurs, fulfillment of their dream comes the day their company goes public. If an IPO is in your future, you have a lot to consider before that dream can become a reality. In fact, you'll even want to consider whether an IPO is right for you after all.
An initial public offering can provide significant benefits, such as:
• Capital for additional expansion
• Liquidity for you and your original partners or investors
• Intangibles -- like prestige -- that can bring new opportunities
• Better future positioning to acquire other companies or be acquired
There are also potential negatives. You'll have to:
• Jump through a complex series of regulatory hoops
• Disclose a great deal of confidential information, including several years of financials, to meet stock exchange requirements
• Give up your former level of control
• Spend more internal time and resources on data management and reporting to meet government and Wall Street requirements.
The current global economy isn't particularly IPO-friendly. And if your company is still comparatively small, you may not appear ready to the marketplace -- even if your company is, in fact, financially strong.
Organizing a successful IPO requires:
• A strategic plan. In many ways, this is a more complicated version of the process you undertook to create your company and open the doors.
• A savvy team of financial, legal, management and communications advisors with whom you can work effectively - people with experience in the intricacies and nuances of the IPO process
• A persuasive business model. Your company becomes your product. You'll need to assure the SEC and convince underwriters and investors of your long-term value.
• Strong talking points, an investor relations plan, and the right people to help tell your story
• Well-honed internal processes and reporting. You must be ready for public accountability.
The IPO process can take several months to a year, and your company has to maintain peak performance during that time. An IPO is also very costly.
Ultimately, if you think the time is right to take your company public, you'll want to remember the sage advice you learned in the Boy (or Girl) Scouts: Be prepared.
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