Selling a Graphic Design Company

December 16th, 2009

I named my company Paul Kiesche Design knowing full well it would be very difficult to ever sell or pass on my company. I did that because I have no intention of ever doing so. However, many graphic design companies are looking to sell.

In this market, many companies are closing shop and instead of just closing the doors some are trying to sell their company. There are also many designers starting to retire and would like to make some money on all the hard work they put in year after year. There are many industries that make it easy to sell a company, but graphic design is not one of them.

A graphic design company is built on trust, style, reputation, quality and that personal touch. Many people fear that once the original owner is gone, the company will go down hill. Is this true or just the opposite?

When selling a company you are negotiating mostly the clients. Then there is the equipment, portfolio, people, etc. Almost always the clients are the main or only selling point, but how do you gaurantee they will go with the new owners? There should always be a transitional period of the past owner working several years with the new owners to make a smooth pass.

Most of this process is very complex and exhausting. Perhaps there’s a simpler way, which may be better for both parties and less spent on business consultants. Create a commission system. Pass the projects from the past company to the new company. For every project landed, the past company gets a commission. This continues with a new client for a year then the commission lowers for 2 more years until the jobs are all transferred over. This means steady income for the past owner and a better gaurantee for the new owner without working together or exchanging other unnecessary pieces. If you are interested in selling clients and this method makes sense to you call me and maybe PKD will be in the market for new clients!

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