Tips for Searchers and Searches

Buying a business?

It’s all about search.

And being best.

And first.

And beating buyer competition.


Please use the COMMENT feature at the bottom of this webpage to ask questions and share ideas.

  • The most recent posts are at the bottom of this webpage.

Search is about buyers getting competitive advantages over other buyers attracted to the same opportunities.

It’s not simply having the advantage; it’s getting to the opportunities before other buyers.

The most successful buyers “sell” themselves. They motivate owners/sellers to prefer interacting with them instead of their buyer competition.

But time is of the essence. Sellers of worthwhile businesses won’t wait for laggard buyers.

Here’s a link to a monthly e-news for advisors and people buying, selling, financing or improving small and midsize businesses: https://conta.cc/2RvtXZi

  • Topics: Reality and opportunity for buyers and owners of small and midsize companies:

Click to see the scope of our advisory service. You can access some or all of it.


Testimonials

It’s like fishing with dynamite, thanks to your evaluation and suggestions to refocus and improve my search methodologies.

— Robert Connelly

Ted, thank you for conducting the Searcher and Search Evaluation on my current efforts. You delivered both strategic and tactical value that will change my search process. Strategically, your explanation of the need to ensure congruity of all parts of my search process was invaluable. I now understand that my search is a multi-targeted marketing campaign. Further, that each tool in my search process and every contact with owners either builds upon the next success or tears down the effort.

Tactically, you delivered practical, but blunt feedback on each of the search steps where I provided information and I appreciate your delivery. I now know what aspects won’t work and can make the appropriate changes to match the strategy. Finally, at each step today, you provided insightful commentary that has served as seasoned advice to help me become better informed. Thanks Ted! 

— Terry Morehouse


Reality:

  • Brokers and savvy sellers invite buyer competition. Do you want to try to outbid the dumbest buyer?
  • Buyers operating from a comprehensive marketing plan get better results, sooner, from their search.
  • You can’t buy the right business if you can’t find it.
  • Searching is nice. Finding is nicer.

And that’s what distinguishes the people setting out to buy a business from the buyers who actually achieve done deals.

Here’s an outline for the marketing plan my clients use:

Marketing Plan to Prepare & Find Opportunities

  • Market Research
  • Acquisition Criteria
  • Your Credentials
  • Design Search Process
  • Q&A for Interviews
  • Assemble Advisory Team

Searchers seeking investors or businesses for sale must know what works (and doesn’t). Preferably without too many errors on the playing field.

Come back often to this webpage.

I will elaborate on each of the elements of the basic marketing plan above.

You’ll see facts, tips, strategies and warnings.

Don’t have time to wait for the tips?

Cut to the chase here: Searcher and Search Evaluation ™

You can also email your questions and comments to Ted Leverette, The Original Business Buyer Advocate ®


How incongruity stifles searchers’ opportunity.

#1 The problem begins for people who do not realistically assess their capability to buy a business or attract investors to help them fund their deal.

  • It’s not what searchers believe; it’s what their targets perceive and believe.

#2 The problem worsens for searchers whose acquisition criteria is not consistent with marketplace realities.

  • Get this wrong and it’s like rowing a boat with one oar. It takes a lot of effort and you don’t get far.

There are several more things misguided buyers do, upfront, that go against their self-interest.

Consider: To what degree in your various efforts to market yourself while searching for opportunities will what you deploy be perceived as ill-timed or absurd in relation to everything they see you doing? (What about your behavior, materials and scripts?)

  • Over the next few months I will elaborate on this webpage.

Reality:

The deal you want won’t exist if you what you bring to the table cannot coexist with marketplace realities.


Is it time for you? Searcher and Search Evaluation ™


“Show me your money!”

[More than half of the searchers asking for Ted Leverette’s Searcher and Search Evaluation learn that they’ve misallocated their dealmaking funds and/or they must adjust their investment objective to more realistically fit marketplace realities. Discovering this early is better than getting blowback from brokers, sellers, investors and sources of financing.]

Other than your management credentials and the quality of your acquisition advisory team, your cash is what brokers, sellers and sources of deal financing want to know about you.

  • Pass the cash test, upfront: Doors open.

The plan you use to market yourself to sellers (plus your acquisition criteria) is dependent upon your financial capacity to achieve a reasonable done deal.

Don’t enter the buy/sell playing field until you can answer these questions. With certainty.

What is the minimum and maximum amount of cash (from your funds) you intend to inject into the business as buyer’s equity at closing?

Break it down:  

What amount is in your budget for your search?

Advisory team?

Down payment?

Working capital?

Contingency fund you hold back and have outside the business to be available if necessary to exploit an opportunity or fund a problem?


What are the worst businesses to buy?

That is one of the most frequent questions I hear.

Let me know if my insight on the topic serves you, as it does my clients, as a benchmark for your acquisition criteria and due diligence: https://tinyurl.com/y5wjjm35

Anything else we should be thinking about on this topic?


It’s worse for the ENTIRE supply chain re retail.

Don’t be shortsighted.

Let’s stay ahead of the less-informed people.

It’s not just retail being hurt by e-commerce. The entire supply chain is at risk.

If you’re thinking about buying or if you own any kind of business related to the retail supply or delivery chain you would be wise to listen to this podcast. You won’t like it but it may save your ass-sets.

The Wolf Street Podcast:

E-commerce and the globalization of retail have already crushed old distribution channels, middlemen, local retailers, and large retailers. Even the biggest of the biggies, such as Walmart, are now scrambling to get on top of it, or they too will be counted among those, like Sears, that didn’t — and were obviated by events. (13 minutes)


Example-Merge small businesses for big profit.

Here’s a story about mergers among small businesses and the power of economies of scale. It’s also a cautionary tale.

It’s a little idea with the potential for big opportunity. Especially if you get the timing right.

You might recall the proliferation, in the 1980s and early 1990s, of print shop franchises. They created more print shops than the marketplace could profitably support.

  • You’re seeing this kind of unhelpful proliferation and industry saturation, today, for other kinds of businesses, aren’t you?

The owner of an independently owned and operated shop hired me. He was nervous because the customer-pie wasn’t growing. Worse, the slices were diminishing thanks to new competition generated by the incursion of franchised print shop startups. The owner was thinking about selling his profitable company. I suggested that he postpone selling until we could improve the company’s competitive advantages, which would increase the value of the business.

Using a script I prepared and rehearsed with him, the owner asked competing print shops if they were worried about industry saturation. Most were.

So he bought two of them, each of which served mostly differing market segments within his locale; the kinds of customers he did not serve. Both of the acquisitions were earning a modest profit. Their owners wanted out because they, too, didn’t want to cope with what was looking to be profit-weakening industry saturation.

The idea was to operate from one location, so the surviving company (my client’s) could be more efficient and profitable.

Before the consolidation these print shops were only running one shift. So the soon-to-be-larger company shut down the shop with the least desirable location. The employees from the closed shop went to work for the surviving shop. They worked the (new) second shift.

Later, in the next M&A transaction, the acquired company was shut down and its employees were hired for the (new) third shift at the surviving shop. (There was no second or third shift before the consolidation.)

Closing two print shops enabled the surviving company to sell most of the tangible assets that were owned by his former competitors. The proceeds from the sale of equipment and vehicles, plus the elimination of redundant inventory and overhead, created a windfall profit for the surviving print shop.

My client used some of the cash he generated from selling surplus equipment, and the cost savings by elimination of overhead (rent and lots of other expenses), to pay down the financing he incurred to acquire the competitors.

The company immediately increased its profit and improved its competitive advantages. And then the owner sold it for a lot more money than he would have gotten had he sold the company before doing what we did.

You can use this technique to grow your business, even if your industry is not saturated with competitors.

But, think twice before trying to grow by consolidating businesses within a (soon-to-be) suffering industry.

The accomplishments achieved in the printing industry were significantly reduced when desktop computers, printers and software made it easy and cheap for former customers of print shops to design and publish documents. (And with 3D printing, which is coming on strong right now, it won’t be long before other kinds of companies lose market share.)

Timing and target selection is key.

You can see much more on this and related topics in my book: How to Buy the Right Business the Right Way—296 Dos, 273 Don’ts, 93 Profit Strategies ™.


Get ahead of other buyers competing with you:

Searcher and Search Evaluation ™

Hire Business Buyer Advocate Ted Leverette to educate and guide you through our Street-Smart 22-Step Acquisition Sequence ™. It integrates five services essential to buyers: Search, due diligence, financing, valuation and dealmaking. We are not a business brokerage. We do not sell franchises or any kind of business.


Email Ted J. Leverette, The Original Business Buyer Advocate ®. “Partner” On-Call Network, LLC

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8 thoughts on “Tips for Searchers and Searches

  1. M. Williams says:

    Can you provide insight into what “proprietary deal flow” means for buyers of small and midsize companies?

  2. A. Felker says:

    Ted Leverette: I discovered your website (and this webpage) today on LinkedIn.
    (I sent you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.)

    What group(s) do you recommend on LinkedIn for business buyers?

    (I’ve seen the business brokerage groups, and the posts by people pitching get-rich-quick nonsense. Doesn’t interest me.)

  3. Ken Lewis says:

    Good stuff on your website. Hoping people will comment.
    My question: What’s your opinion about business brokers?
    Soon I will begin my search for opportunities.

    • Ken Lewis says:

      Okay, I’ve found my answer. And it may be useful to other people.
      This revealing article refers to “investment bankers.” Think “avoid business broker” if you want to make the best deal.

      Excerpt (read the article for context): “There is one source that was always problematic for me — intros from investment bankers. But as a source of deal flow it is last on my list.” Referring to brokers: “. . . goal is to find investors who pay the highest price and to help make sure that investors can’t tell whether they’re getting a good deal or a bad deal.” And, “If you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s you.

      https://bothsidesofthetable.com/the-importance-of-proprietary-deal-flow-in-early-stage-vc-f1858278a

      • Ted Leverette says:

        Ken Lewis: Your comment is thought-provoking and so is the link you share to an online article.
        I’m, here, responding to this in your comment: Think “avoid business broker” if you want to make the best deal.

        You and anyone can gain realistic insight by reading my webpage: What about business brokers?

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