Considering an acquisition for your small business? What to think about before making that all-important decision

So there’s exciting things afoot at Striped Leopard, more of which to be announced shortly…

However, what I can say is that it’s time for the business to grow, and with that, comes many decisions to make.

One of which is whether to grow organically and take on more staff etc., or to look at acquiring a business right out and enveloping them within current operations.

There are pros and cons to both, but if it is something that you have, like me, been mulling over for a while, then I thought it might be worth sharing some pearls of wisdom I have picked up along the way, gathered from research and talking to others who have been through the process.

Sometimes, it can be that the opportunity is presented to you before you had thought about the possibility of bringing an acquisition within the business. In that instance, think about why you’d want to go down this route, and what you want to achieve by it. To grow bigger and because it looks good probably aren’t reason enough. Does it fit into your overall strategy/get you to your goals? Will it complement your existing business rather than deviate from what made it successful in the first place?

The background research you need to do before even entertaining the idea should confirm that this is the right choice rather than throwing up problems.

In the same way, you need to ensure that the numbers add up – and don’t forget to investigate EVERYTHING. Find out details of debt, speak to customers past and present, look at online reviews, pore over every document you can get your hand on. This is probably going to be the biggest decision of your life, so make this research count.

Then think about where you want to take this business. Do you want to scale it further? What would you need to put into place to be able to do that? Do you need new skills/technology/equipment/investment/staff?

Think about how this acquisition positions you in the industry. It’ll probably change who your competitors are, so where will that leave you? Is there space for you/opportunities for you to make your mark? Will you need to change your messages/proposition/target audience?

What would you want to change once the acquisition had happened? Logo/brand/location etc? Does the new business fit in with your existing structure/strategy/ethos of what you want to achieve? The acquisition should feel like it already is an extension of your business, and you can see how naturally the two would work seamlessly alongside/within your existing operations.

Involve as many people as you can in the process, your accountant/business mentor/adviser/family/suppliers/customers/employees/HR consultants/legal team, whatever you need, draw on the talent and skills around you. Ask for as much help as possible.

Consider the value. Not just what you’re paying for it, but in terms of the value of the company in the future and whether the operation costs and opportunity for growth makes it worth it.

It’s not an easy decision to make, there are so many factors to think about and seek advice on, but if you do find an opportunity that ticks all the boxes, then go for it, and enjoy the next stage of your business owner career.

If you would like some advice on business acquisition, then please do get in touch, I would be happy to sit down and explore opportunities with you.