When you start your program to purchase your “ideal” company, you quickly realize that your ultimate success will depend on two primary skill sets: 1) Your ability to FIND viable companies that are for sale, and 2) Your ability to effectively qualify the potential acquisition investment once found.
This article is about only step one, how to creatively find viable companies and one’s that are able to be purchased.
Assuming you have clearly defined your business purchase criteria and you have decided to pursue only companies that are “officially” for sale, versus attempting to find and contact company owners who might be willing to sell, you will need to explore as many ways as you can to find companies for sale as possible.
As a business buyer you want to use the best means possible to position yourself to get the first shot at your most promising acquisition candidates and to do such in as cost effective means as possible.
Often the more “creative” you are to find deals, the quicker you’ll find the “right” deal. The more diverse your means to locate viable companies for sale the better your chances of finding a quality acquisition candidate that few others are aware of.
When you are pursuing acquisition candidates you really never know where your next deal will come from. It could be word-of- mouth, something your read in a newspaper, a visit to a website or a lead from an association meeting. Listed below are a variety of ways you can use to find businesses to buy:
25 Ways to Find Businesses For Sale
- Investment Bankers: Regional, National, International
- Investment Banker websites: Listings of businesses for sale
- Business Brokers: Regional and National
- Business Brokerage websites: Listings of businesses for sale
- Venture Capital Firms: Good referral potential
- Mezzanine Lenders: Regional, National, Always aware of potential deals
- Newspapers: Listings in Local, Regional, National and Industry specific
- Magazines: Listings in Regional, National and Industry specific
- Newsletters: Listings in printed or “Ezines” on the internet – Industry specific
- Commercial Banks: Many of their clients are considering sale of their company
- Consultants: All varieties, many have extensive practices and many owner contacts
- Associations: All varieties, some are focused just on merger & acquisition activities
- Business Directories: All forms of printed and electronic, many industry specific
- M&A Service Providers: They know who is selling what often on a national basis
- Product Suppliers: Many product manufacturers/ distributors are in the know
- Trade Shows: Walk a trade show in an industry of interest, salesman love to talk!
- Accountants: Many have large practices with extensive business owner contacts
- Professors: Many provide consultative services to business owners or are board members
- Corporate Officers: Especially Corporate Development managers, seeking “spin-off’s”
- Bank Trust Departments: Sometimes viable businesses surface in trust situations
- M&A Legal Specialists: Many are in the “crosswinds” of constant deal opportunities
- Networking Meetings: Your local business newspaper publishes many of these
- Technology Licensors: Always aware of companies getting “out” of new technologies
- Directory of Board Members: Board members typically know other board members
- Business Associates: Current and previous business associates and service providers
These “25 Ways to Find Businesses for Sale” are only a few of the creative means you can use to find acquisition candidates. Keep this list and add your own methods once you start your business pursuit program. With today’s endless capabilities of the internet, its worldwide reach into various countries, industries and industry participants, there are countless variations for most of the means listed here.
As important about being proactive to locate companies to acquire you need to be as diligent to broadcast and document your specific business purchase interests and purchase criteria whenever and wherever possible. Business owners; individuals, corporations with multi divisions, merger and acquisition intermediaries, private equity firms need to know who you are and what specific businesses you seek to purchase.
This notification effort can be manifested in printed or “electronic” formats. The internet again is the most cost effective means to document your exact business purchase criteria and interests. However, be aware that there are few e commerce sites that specifically accommodate proactive business buyer needs. Most business transaction websites focus on listing businesses for sale, facilitating primarily business sellers needs, not business buyers.
Take the time and effort to research and try all these different means to locate companies to buy. Some will be more productive than others, while some may be more accommodating to your specific business pursuit requirements. You must do what you must to throw away as much hay as you can to get to that needle in the stack!