Would love to hear how other searchers are putting together their teams for ETA - here are some learnings I've pulled together over the past year or so:

Even for self-funded searchers, small business M&A is a team sport. Successful buyers know that acquiring an enduringly profitable business requires help and are willing to set aside resources to make sure they have access to the right experts at the right time

SMB buyers engage lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, asset valuation experts, tax experts, insurance experts, technology consultants, and others during the M&A process. Each of these professionals has a unique skill set designed to increase a buyer’s chances of success.

In addition to these specialists, running a small business requires generalist skills such as leadership, strategic vision, and people management. Buyers can augment their own entrepreneurial skills by working with transition experts and consultants.

Buyers with backgrounds in private equity or investment banking have a clear advantage. They already have professional connections to the experts they need. In many cases, buyers with connections will build an entire team from friends, family, and other acquaintances.

When we talk to these connected buyers, the most common phrase we hear is “I don’t know what I would have done without [valuable connection] in the family”.

Graduates of top MBA programs with Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition courses, advisors, and clubs, also have an advantage. These buyers can source experts from professors and alumni that have acquired a business in the past.

Yet, buyers without close personal connections to the M&A process face steeper challenges. They typically go down one of two paths. Option one is working with the connections they do have, even if there isn’t a perfect alignment of expertise and diligence needs.

Option two is performing time-consuming Google searches and making big leaps of faith. In either case, buyers end up taking on additional risk. A lack of connections can kill search funds.

This isn’t right. The success of an acquisition entrepreneur should come down to their abilities as a business owner and not the quality of their personal and professional connections. Here’s to expanding search to a broader audience in 2023!