Determining the right fit, deal structure, finance, due diligence and integration, & knowing where the rocks are makes the difference between wasted assets and effort and a well planned and executed transaction.
Most of the acquisition teams I’ve interviewed have tons of experience making and closing deals. Each team member has skills in their own area of expertise.
Success requires a team with just the right talents for each step of the process. My experience has been that teams lack meaningful process and tools. Too often, methods are haphazard and results come from frustration and guesswork rather than measurement and planning.
No matter how bright the team is, the complexity of the process and the overwhelming amounts of information necessary to find and complete transactions with well chosen candidates simply keeps the failure rate high (about fifty percent of acquisitions destroy value).
Brokers and lead generating contacts provide brokered deals on a transaction based fee basis. It is not the ideal way to be introduced to candidates.
Here are a few steps to make your next acquisition add and not destroy value.
1) Build a measurable criteria exercise as a critical first step. Every company goes through it in some fashion. Few make it a measurable tool for evaluation. It is not that hard once the definitions are numerically rated to give a ranking score to candidates.
2) Learn how to bring candidates into the fold. Without the ability to contact the larger share of available well chosen candidates (database management and contact savvy), there is just too much left undone to be a representative sampling of the available market. How targets are contacted and what they are told has a great impact on the results you obtain (the quality and quantity of your candidate base).
3) Spreadsheet hell. There are many bad ways to manage the profiling and research results from ten or more candidates. Information needs to be updated regularly. This becomes a big problem if spreadsheets or paper are used. An web tools are worth the investment to have access to current information (it makes information useful).
Unmanageable information is useless. Decisions will be made without the most important information if systems are not in place to make it readily available.
4) Be well counseled for deal structure and finance. The markets at this time especially are hard to read. It is worth the investment to know what current market conditions (valuations/finance) are and not make decisions based on guesswork.
5) Plan for due diligence, integration, and its attendant problems. There are many good companies, software, and process people to help with due diligence and transition.
Attending to the non financial aspects of due diligence and integration pays big dividends.
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