beechange – e-commerce Plattform for sustainable products
Karin Haffert interviewed about the process of handing over a company
beechange is an online store where sustainable household products can be purchased. In November 2015, the collaboration with the former owner Karin Haffert started in order to sell the store and hand it over to suitable successors. The project ran from November 2015 to May 2016. In the interview Karin Haffert now talks about the challenges, the expectations, the results and the collaboration with konsultori.
konsultori: What issues did you think about in the run-up to the sale of the company?
Karin Haffert: A very big personal concern for me was definitely that my store goes to someone who also understands something about the subject. It was not just a business for me, but a personal concern. I really wanted to make sure that the work I had done to set it up would not be in vain and that everything would be continued as well as possible in my interests.
In the run-up, I was naturally concerned with how to find this person or company with the right background as a corporate buyer. After that, my second thought was: How do I package the assets of my store into something that can be presented and sold well? That’s why I brought you on board.
k: How did the process of company succession go for you?
KH: It was definitely surprising that verbal commitments don’t hold. I learned from that. As long as I don’t have anything in writing, I don’t rely on expressions of interest.
I was pleasantly surprised by all the great feedback about the sales concept. The preparation of all the figures appealed to many people. This was of course a great confirmation and showed me that my work and my structure have a certain value. Overall, the preparation of the sales concept was a very strong factor and a convincing argument during the takeover. Without the document, the whole thing would never have gone so well. It was essential because it gave me a structure myself. In addition, I already had all the points about the store in black and white on paper and thus the process and the arguments were always immediately at hand. With the written sales concept, I had a stable basis for all discussions and was thus able to sell myself at the right value. I always sent out the sales concept before the personal meetings – this saved me an enormous amount of time, work and nerves, because I never had to start from scratch at the meetings.
Since all the people responded so well to the sales concept, I honestly would have expected to sell faster, too. There were a lot of people who came forward who had money but not the necessary, sustainable background. The other interested parties, who would have been a better fit thematically, in turn didn’t have the necessary money and time resources that you already have to put into the store. That was one of the biggest problems that arose: that there were enough interested parties, but the circumstances were practically never right.
What I would like to pass on to others is that creating a checklist is important. Especially when it really comes to handling the sale itself. You have to look at exactly what the individual items are that need to be taken care of (re-registrations, signatures and so on). It is also important to have a large and broad selection of potential buyers right from the start, so that at the end of the day there is really a good candidate.
In the end, the preparation of a business plan was very helpful. I took the WKO guide “Help for self-help” as a basis, but the personal meetings with a consultant were much more successful for me. And that already brings me to my last point: I can only advise anyone and everyone to invest in external consulting services, even if you are small. Many people don’t even know how much work it all means and how quickly the probability of success increases with such input. Through consulting, all the measures set are selected and used in a completely individual and tailored manner – this is incredibly helpful, especially with such a complex topic.
k: How satisfied are you with the result and what is your opinion of the sale of the company from today’s perspective?
KH: A particularly important aspect for me was that the store only went to someone who would continue my work well. We did that successfully: The store continues to run and went to a person who has a lot of idea about it and is committed. I kept my blog and got an appealing price. I can look at everything from a distance with peace of mind, it no longer affects me personally and I have also concluded the topic with the business succession for myself. With five months, I also had enough time to adjust to it.
Overall, I am relieved and very glad that we did this together. It was really difficult to find a good buyer. I can now look forward positively and tackle my new projects. By closing on a positive note, I’m having a lot more fun with my new challenges.
About Karin Haffert
She continues the former beechange blog on oneecoveganlife. She writes about vegan and sustainable living, travel and cooking, as well as waste avoidance (plastic-free & zero waste) and DIY. For the future, coaching & workshops on these topics are planned. She can now also devote more time to photography, which was already her second mainstay in her store days. She offers individual one-on-one photo coaching and is planning photo workshops with her husband on topics such as image composition and editing in her new home in the Waldviertel. On their photo blog Fotonomaden, they provide tips on planning photo trips, specialist literature and equipment tests.