Very early in his career, Eric McKeehan developed a passion for working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. Today, he lives out that passion as an Advisor with Viking Mergers & Acquisitions in Asheville, NC, driven by values learned through a decade of working with small to midsize businesses.
Eric began his professional career working in business development with a growing wholesale distribution business in Asheville, NC. There, he interacted with thousands of brick and mortar retailers across the country and came to appreciate the challenges faced by small businesses everywhere. Eric went on to turn down lucrative opportunities with public corporations in favor of the challenge and excitement of small business growth. He joined a manufacturing start-up in Hendersonville, NC, where he took on a variety of roles, serving as both the Controller and Business Development Manager. During his tenure, the company saw an exponential growth in revenue and penetration into new market segments. Eric later moved on to an outdoor gear retailer and manufacturer.
Throughout his experience, Eric has worn many hats. In his words, “I consider myself a small business generalist” – a fact that serves his clients well. Eric’s hands-on experience and education have resulted in a well-rounded skill-set and fundamental understanding of the “big picture” faced by owners and executive management.
But even with such a well-rounded perspective, he does have a favorite part of the process. When working with clients through Viking’s business selling process, Eric says, “I can really dig in and work on the finances, understand, and solve problems. Sometimes the finances in due diligence are very complex. That’s my favorite part – lots of problem solving.”
Through it all, Eric’s primary mission with Viking is to help Asheville business owners navigate one of the most important decisions in their lives: selling their business. Eric works with integrity, professionalism, and compassion throughout the process, ensuring that each client has an opportunity to achieve their desired outcome.
Why Viking is Here
Selling a business can be the biggest decision in a person’s life. Like all of our advisors across the Southeast, the Viking business advisors in Asheville, NC, are experienced professionals who are here for the long term. We have no interest in rushing our clients through a sale or purchase. Eric emphasizes, “We work with people for years at a time. It’s all about relationships. It’s not ‘just business.’”
Each of our clients in Western North Carolina has a dedicated business advisor in Asheville, along with a team of analysts and marketing professionals providing support through the entire selling process.
Advice If You Are Thinking Of Selling A Business
Eric notes that Asheville is a popular destination, and Viking receives a lot of buyer inquiries from people who want to relocate here. He goes on to emphasize, “It’s very important for businesses who anticipate selling within the next several years to get their books in order.” This kind of advance preparation is why Viking Advisors work with clients far before they intend to exit. Eric suggests that business owners pay particular attention to:
- Tax Deductions: A lot of owners try to minimize their tax liability each year by writing off things that they shouldn’t. Stop running personal expenses through the business. Each dollar of unnecessary expense deducted at tax time will lower your reported net income. Your small tax savings isn’t worth what you may lose in purchase price after multiples are applied. It’s much better to pay a little more taxes now so that you can maximize your market price later. If you are a consumer-facing business that receives payments in cash, be sure to report each and every dollar. Small retail and restaurants make this mistake very often.
- Bookkeeping: Invest in having a CPA review the past 3 years’ financials to look for problems and fix them, especially if your business moves a lot of inventory. Establish good practices early on, and stick with them. You want your books as clean as possible.
- Inventory: Invest in systems to track inventory. You should be able to know how much inventory you have on hand at any given time, as well as provide historical reports showing changes in inventory. This is a big one. Lenders and Buyers will need to know what the working capital requirements for the business are.
Like all of Viking’s divisions, our business advisors in Asheville, NC, engage with potential clients early on in the sales process and remain engaged until the timing is right for the client. Every business is different, and so are the needs of the business owner, especially when forming an exit strategy.
Advice If You Are Thinking Of Buying A Business
If you are thinking of buying a business in Asheville, NC, Eric affirms that now is a very good time, but he brings up a challenge that buyers may not have considered. “After selecting a business and beginning the purchase process, if you plan to run the business from here, you need to start looking for a place to live ASAP. Asheville is a high demand market, and waiting around too long to look at homes will add additional stress when you approach the closing date on the business. Business acquisition is a very time intensive process, so you may not have as much spare time to shop around as you expected, and temporary housing gets very expensive, very quickly.”
Employing the services of our Asheville business advisors can help simplify the buying process. In addition, Viking pre-qualifies businesses through SBA lenders, so the buyers we work with can have confidence in their purchase.
If you are considering business advisors in Asheville, NC, contact Viking today for a confidential consultation or business valuation at no cost, no strings attached.