If you’ve been reading along in this 30 Days to ETA series, you know that in the Day #22 post I discussed how as Acquisition Entrepreneurs there is one mistake that I see time and again made by Entrepreneurs Through Acquisition (ETA), that being not having enough opportunities in the Mergers & Acquisitions pipeline. So, in yesterday’s 30 Days to ETA post, we explored ETA Deal Flow | Brokers (You can read the previous post by CLICKING HERE). I believe that if you fill your Mergers & Acquisitions pipeline with qualified companies to explore acquiring, life will become easier for you. But how will you know which businesses are right and which businesses are wrong to begin the filtering process on? So, in today’s 30 Days to ETA post, we’re going to explore ETA Industry / Business ID… Enjoy!
ETA Industry / Business ID
Business — and therefore life — would be boring if we were all the same, right? I mean, I know that the “like” attracts “like,” or we enjoy things in life that are similar to what we like or enjoy. But isn’t diversity the key to success? How many times have you heard “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” told to you by your parents probably? While on the one hand, I’m glad we’re not all the same. On the other hand, I’d like there to be greater similarity. I know, a catch-22, right? We all have different likes and dislikes, different preferences and tastes. It takes all of us to make the world go around.
Similarly, Acquisition Entrepreneurs come in all different shapes and sizes. Some of us who pursue Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) have a little bit of money while others have a lot. Frugality rules some while “spend it if you have it” are the rules for others. Some may want an instant return on their investment while others don’t really care about getting a return. And what about those that are looking to sell their business? Some look at the potential long-term capital gain from selling their business, while others just want to concede to their competition.
So who are the sellers? What type of person or company sells their business? Well, there are a couple of different categories into which sellers fall, and by going through the following exercise with me you’ll identify your potential seller persona. Once you understand who your seller is, then you can design, shape, and create your ETA strategy to appeal to that particular type of business seller.
I believe that if you fill your Mergers & Acquisitions pipeline with qualified companies to explore acquiring, life will become easier for you.Sam Palazzolo, Managing Director @ Tip of the Spear Ventures
The Low-Risk Sellers
The first major category of sellers consists of two very different types of business owners who both desire low-risk Mergers & Acquisitions.
1. The Financial Seller
First, we have the individuals who trade businesses like they trade stock. These owners will crunch numbers to estimate their return on investment in every type of detailed scenario. Oftentimes, these sellers are looking to hold the business for less than 5 years. Thus, they’ll want to know all of the ins and outs of their business so as to put it in the best light when it comes time to sell the business. They are NOT taking any risk that they won’t make a return on their investment within a very short time period.
Not all Financial Sellers are number crunchers or business traders, though. Some Financial Sellers come in the form of family members or employees who sell the company. They may want to go “5 and out” so that they won’t be taking risks and gambling with their investments. They’ll look to earn a sizable living by continuing the legacy of the company you buy. Most will hope to sell it for profit when they’re ready to retire.
2. The Strategic Seller
Now, the Strategic Seller is just a slight bit different. This individual is not looking to flip a business, per se. Rather, they’re looking to sell their business to enhance their life. They may want to add a cog to his business wheel that will work in harmony with other current lifestyle events.
But not all Strategic Seller want to divulge of harmonious pieces to their existing business. Some may be your competitors in some other form or fashion, looking to take over your customer base or market niche right out from under you. They want harmony in the sales process, but beware their underlying intentions.
The High-Risk Sellers
The second category of business sellers breaks into three different high-risk takers. These are the gamblers of the business selling world!
1. Angel Investors
Angel Investors typically work with start-up companies that show promise but have no proven track-record. Therefore, they take the most risk. These investors come in, buy part or all of the company, and help drive its success. Whenever they purchase or buy-in to a business, they usually don’t take all of the assets or buy all of the stock. However, they’ll take a majority of the interest equity in the company. This seller may look for similar high-risk, high-reward payouts from the sale of their business.
2. Venture Capitalists
Venture Capitalists are not going to sell companies at ground level. Think multi-millionaires who buy a company or take ownership of a company that has a proven track record of success but needs connections that only the venture capitalist can provide. The Venture Capitalists hope that their high-level affiliations will drive the company to exponential success, making them even more money. When it comes time to sell, they want the earth, moon, and sky!
3. Private Equity Firms
Private Equity firms are a bit different from the other business sellers because they typically only purchase the best of the best companies. Consequently, they pay the most and typically deal with the largest companies worth over $100 Million. These firms are looking to buy the next Google or Amazon. When it comes time to sell while less aggressive than Venture Capitalists, will still want a healthy return on their investment.
Business ID (Identification)
So we’ve categorized the types of low-risk and high-risk sellers looking to sell their business. Besides identifying the type of risk-taker you want to buy your particular company from, you have to look at the rest of the Business ID (Identification) demographics. What I mean is the local, regional, national, or global size of the business that often determines which types of business sellers will be attracted to your Mergers & Acquistions ETA pitch.
Those companies that operate in a small, localized area will normally seek “mom-and-pop” purchasers. These seller’s goal is to go out and get a return on their investment within about three to five years. They’re really not interested in spending a long time getting a company off the ground, so they seek an established business they can then sell for hundreds of thousands or a few million dollars. Then, they expect to recoup their investment in a short amount of time.
Regional sellers will typically sell companies that operate in larger areas that have mastered the art of scalability. These sellers will purchase companies with multiple storefronts in multiple cities or states. Because of the bigger investment and the larger marketplace, regional sellers expect to wait about five to ten years before they see a return on their initial investment.
National and/or international sellers will purchase the publicly traded or globally based companies. These sellers/investors look for companies that are the “best of the best.” Expecting to be paid more than local and regional sellers, they want everything the company has to offer and then some. With such a large investments taking place and hanging in the balance, these sellers will insist on solid profits from the very beginning. So they’ll look at selling companies that show reliable trends and steady customers.
In today’s 30 Days to ETA post, we explored the concept of ETA Industry / Business ID (Identification). This post should help you identify the types of business sellers most likely to sell their business based on risk and location. If you can determine the specific seller for your future ETA company, you have an idea of which location to search for the company during the ETA search phase. If you’re ready to buy, identifying your seller persona — or at least knowing who they could be — will help clarify where and how to reach a seller that will agree to your desired acquisition price.