You have built a business with lots of "blood, sweat, and tears". It’s been a lot like raising a child.
Your goal has always been to sell this business at some point – perhaps to start a new venture or retire someplace comfy and warm.
Because this has always been the goal, you have obviously prepared all along the way. You have documented the growth; you have kept detailed and impressive financial records; you have customer and/or client lists; you have developed marketing and other digital presences that present your brand in ways that attract customers.
Showing steady growth in revenue and regular listings of assets and debts, you have detailed records of your customer base and their purchasing histories. Next, you have records that demonstrate the marketing strategies used and the data on their effectiveness; and you have developed marketing and other digital presences that present your brand in the most attractive ways. In short, you have been preparing for this eventuality from the very beginning.
What About Your Current Employees?
The one thing you may have put on the "back burner" is the value of your current employees to your company’s success. You want to show a future buyer that your employees have contributed a great deal. If they have, you want to protect their positions, if possible, during any sale. After all, they know the operations, the customers, the marketing strategies that have been successful, and so forth.
In preparing your employees for the future transition to a new owner, you want to ensure that you can demonstrate they have the variety of skills that ensure the smooth operations of a profitable business. Some of those skills will relate to all types of business writing that occur for both internal and external communication purposes.
Exactly what are these writing skills, and why are they important? Read on.
Why Your Employees Need a Variety of Business Writing Skills
Your employees hold a variety of positions within your company. Each of those do require a certain amount of written communication. Ensuring that they have these skills and are using them well is up to you. Here’s why they need those skills.
1. A lot of Business Communication Occurs Through Writing
Consider all of the types of written communication your employees engage in. Some are in charge of customer service communications; some are in charge of content for marketing strategies, in your blog posts, in emails, on your social media platforms, and more; still other written communication is internal, as policies, procedures, and such are promulgated to all employees. Have your employees shown that the communication skills for which they are responsible are really contributing to your business success? If there is room for improvement, then see to it that they get the training they need. After all, those skills impact smooth operations, reputation, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, revenue.
2. Good Writers are More Credible
Those who do any type of writing in a company’s name must do it well. Otherwise, that business loses respect and a sense of authority. Imagine a sales proposal, for example, with grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors; imagine the same type of poor writing on blog posts and even on social media posts, even those that may be casual in tone and style. Anyone considering the purchase of a business will certainly review these types of content as an overall evaluation of a company’s reputation and reliability within its community of current and potential customers, either individual or other businesses.
Consider product descriptions as a simple example. This is a specialized type of creative writing that must show the value of a product or service and do so in a way that both engages potential customers and demonstrates how each one will solve a pain point that a customer may have.
3. Good Employee Writing is More Persuasive
This is especially true in marketing efforts. Employees who conduct the marketing aspects of a business become the "face" of the company, not as people but through their writing. Every company has a brand, a brand voice, and a certain style of a content type. Consider the difference between the marketing content of a company like Rolex vs. that of a company like Red Bull. The differences are obvious. Good marketing content maintains a consistent brand voice, targets specific customer bases, and speaks to the value of the product or service to those bases.
When the content is well-written, it can be quite persuasive. And effective persuasion means retention of current customers and acquisition of new ones.
Consider all the content that may be produced through marketing campaigns that attempt to persuade. There is website content that features products and services; blog posts that persuade readers of company expertise, the ability to solve customer problems, and educate, entertain, inspire that reading audience; social media posts that persuade without selling; email campaigns with compelling subject lines, important messages, and calls to action.
In short, persuasive marketing messages combine art and science and require very specific skills and talents.
4. Good Employee Writing is Clear and Crisp When It Needs to Be
Restaurants, grocery stores, and many retailers have uniforms for their customers. Why? Because it provides a professional image, something that all businesses want to project. However, when a business does not have a physical presence, its professional image may well reside in its digital presence; it may also reside in its internal written products – manuals, policies, and such. Part of a company’s professional image is the clearness and crispness of those internal documents. Are employee manuals simple and clear so that everyone understands? Are company safety and other policies precise? Much of these task responsibilities fall to HR departments, and they must be understood by all levels of employees.
If a business sells a product that requires assembly or other instructions, are those pieces of writing done well? Clear and simply written instructions will endear customers, improve a company’s reputation, and eliminate contacts from irritated customers.These are the types of documents that potential buyers will review, and they will need to be exceptionally written.
5. A Stunning Website Requires Design and Exceptional Writing
Even brick and mortar establishments have a digital presence – online advertising, social media platforms, and, of course, a website and blog. While a business may in fact outsource the design and development of its website, the content on that site will usually be up to an employee, as it will require updating from time to time. Each page must provide a top presentation to visitors and customers alike. Your website should demonstrate security by featuring HTTPS and SSL certificates (you can get a cost-effective Comodo SSL certificate or turn to any other Certificate Authority like Cloudflare or GoDaddy). This way a user will understand that the website provides a fully secure checkout and payment process. Also, each page must engage the user, again, in a style and tone that is consistent with the brand.
Remember that website and blog content writing are very different from academic writing that one might produce in school and company manuals. The individual(s) in charge of this content must be skilled in that specific type of writing. Potential buyers will certainly pour through the company website and blog.
6. Preparing Narratives for Financial Statements
Financial statements are not just columns of numbers, as you know. There must be written explanations as well. These narratives must be written in formal English and include the following information for each quarter and/or year:
- Your business model
- Human resources
- New initiatives
- Supply chain
- Economic and business performances
- Anticipated risks
- Company governance
Small businesses will not normally have a CPA on board to prepare these financial statements, and this function will thus be outsourced. It is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that the report is reviewed and that there is written documentation regarding taking action on the recommendations that have been made in each statement.
Financial statement narratives will be carefully reviewed by potential buyers/investors. They provide key explanations and insights for those numbers on the pages.
7. Composing Business Plans and Business Action Plans
These internal documents accumulate over time, from the initial idea for the business forward. The initial business plan is usually produced by the potential owner of the business and includes several sections, all of which are produced to demonstrate the viability of the business – often shared with potential lenders and investors. These can be complex works, and usually, outside help is enlisted.
The business action plans are usually developed as an employee team, especially in the case of small businesses. These relate to specific goals for growth and what action will be taken to meet those goals. Business action plans are in more casual style, and an employee may very well be charged with the final write-up.
Any potential buyer will want to review all of these. It’s important for them to see that business action plans are carefully developed and, more important, implemented well to ensure business growth.
8. Media is Also Critical and Requires Specialized Writing
It is well known that today’s consumers have very short attention spans, and much of this is attributable to the Internet and the rapid retrieval of information that it affords. Further, consumers are on mobile devices far more than on PCs. They want their information right now, and they want it delivered in an easy-to-absorb way. This means they do not want to read through walls of text.
Add to this the fact that people process visual information about 60,000K faster than the written word, and also tend to retain visual information better. That means marketing campaigns must incorporate media. These are often in the form of short videos – videos that provide solutions and value. A perfect example was the short explainer video of Dollar Shave Club when it launched its subscription-based razor product. It is less than 90 seconds long, addresses the pain that men experience when they forget to replenish their disposable razor supply and/or to stop at the store for replacements, and how this company can solve that problem simply and cheaply.
Media marketing requires specialized writing, especially in the form of scripts for multimedia messaging. Such writing requires consolidating the message into a very short piece (90 seconds or less); it requires creative writing; it requires understanding the pain points of the target audience and addressing them succinctly and in an entertaining way.
9. Customer Relationship Management will Involve Diplomacy and Empathy
Customer relationships do not only occur via telephone today. In fact, much of it occurs via email and live chat. And that "live" chat is often produced by bots with pre-written scripts and machine learning built into the mix. In addition to those scripts and "learning", however, there are times when a customer support pro will need to communicate directly with a customer. Often, this occurs via email, and often when the customer has completed a support ticket, asking for specific help.
In all, written communication with customers requires clear, simply written language, as well as diplomacy, especially when customers are upset or angry. This type of writing will involve training in communication skills but also in interpersonal relations. When customers leave a communication satisfied and happy, they come back and even tell their friends about their good experience.
No One Employee Can Do It All
It’s obvious that no single employee can produce all of the types of business writing that must be crafted. Some pieces are quite formal; others will be more casual in style and tone; still others will require a certain amount of creativity, persuasive language, and a complete understanding of the company’s customer base. In many circumstances, research will be required to produce certain pieces of writing.
But all types of writing, taken as a whole, provide a complete picture of a business. All of them contribute to reputation, viability, and potential for future growth. A potential buyer will want to see this comprehensive picture.
Business Owner Options for Writing Needs
Much of the business writing that a small business must produce can be handled by employees with a variety of writing skills. The employee who prepares assembly instructions, for example, will have one set of skills (ability to be precise and clear), while an employee responsible for marketing copy will have a wholly separate set of skills (creativity, persuasion, etc.). And employees who must use written communication to deal directly with customers or clients will need other types of skills. Many business owners who need such a variety may choose to provide specific training to those employees (or to themselves) who show promise in each of these areas.
The other option is to outsource the writing to freelancers or other writing services. This is usually a sound business decision when the owner does not have the budget or the need for a full-time in-house employee that adds to overhead costs. These types of decision can show a potential buyer that the business owner has operated and grown his business with good decision-making skills.
There are many ways in which a small business can present itself as attractive to potential buyers. But effective writing that has presented the company as successful and that has contributed to revenue growth is one key factor.
Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is an HR specialist with a long history of consulting, both with organizations and job seekers. She is also an editor at GetGoodGrade.