I quit my W-2 job on September 1, 2021 and I completed my acquisition on December 28, 2022 … 16 months from the start of my full time search to closing.
I acquired a franchised, seasonal pest control company that operates from April - October. I’m in the offseason now so I don’t have any Day 1 or operating lessons learned (yet). However I wanted to share the timeline of my search in case it’s helpful to any current or prospective searchers.
A little context about my search. I ran a geographic search with a 1 hour radius from my home in New Jersey. I exclusively looked at brokered deals and I did not do any proprietary outreach as I was industry agnostic. I’m a spouse funded searcher, so I’m reliant on my wife for income and benefits.
TL:DR my 16 month search was not linear by any means. There were long periods of low activity and doubting that I’d ever find a deal. I second guessed my decision to walk away from a steady paycheck and almost threw in the towel. But I’m glad I stuck it out and reminded myself of why I quit my job in the first place. It was worth the perseverance.
Everything is awesome! Look at how many deals there are!
Under LOI on a fully remote, fast growing bookkeeping company. Seller and I mutually agreed to part ways 2 weeks into diligence as I suggested renegotiating the price based upon some diligence findings and I couldn’t find a SBA lender interested in the deal. I wrote this post about it.
Went deep down a rabbit hole of starting my own remote bookkeeping business. I liked the business model, the industry demand, and the economics. It screamed build vs buy (if you have a couple of years to grind it out and establish a customer base) but ultimately I couldn’t launch it. I realized that 0 to 1 is not my strength and if I were going to build something, I’d want to do it with a partner, not solo.
Had kid #3. Spent the month on the couch watching Netflix and trying to help out my wife while she kept a tiny human alive.
Kickstarted my search again. Made an offer on a 15 year old commercial cleaning company. Broker’s response: “At this time we are not considering any offers that are less than full price”.
Made an offer on a 60 year old manufacturing company with significant customer concentration. Had a forgivable seller note attached to my offer in case the biggest customer flaked during the transition. Seller did not want to share the risk via a forgivable seller note so my offer was not accepted. Direct quote: “If you’re not confident in your ability to retain all of the customers, then you’re not the right buyer”. Ouch.
Made an offer on a 33 yr old “expert medical network” company that sold their services to law firms (e.g. records summary, expert witness testimony, etc). Was exchanging redlines with the broker on a LOI when calls me up one day and says that the seller is taking the business off the market. Key employee was going on medical leave for 3 months and the seller didn’t think they would have the time to complete the sale being short staffed. Will list it again when the business stabilizes.
Made an offer on 118 yr old textile company. Two site visits with the seller and we built a great rapport. However, prior to the LOI being signed, his accountant learned of the sale and told the seller that he couldn’t retire from the proceeds and that he needed to work another 2 years. Seller pulled the listing.
Feeling pretty down after I had two brokered businesses in a row get pulled from the market while negotiating a LOI. Applied for a few jobs in tech and made it to the final round of one company only for the company to institute a hiring freeze. No offer was made and my excitement about a steady paycheck was squashed. Was super discouraged about finding another W-2 job or restarting my search given that I wasn’t seeing many quality deals. Grateful to take calls with a couple of older, more experienced individuals who both encouraged me to continue my search a little longer and remind myself again of why I quit my job.
Signed LOI on the deal that I ultimately closed. While I tried to keep my pipeline full in case this deal fell through, there weren't a lot of other deals I was interested in pursuing. I took a few owner calls, but never made any offers.
Diligence, SBA financing process, Franchisor approval process, deal went on life support many times, was restructured and then finally got back on track.
CLOSED! Now the real work begins.
Everyone’s search is different but I wanted to share one perspective on what a search could look like. Hope you find it helpful!