There is hope out there for you but it's a journey. This sentiment also applies to any type of searcher - its really hard but PE firms wouldn't exist if these wasn't something at the end of the rainbow.

I started my searching journey right after covid started in late 2020 and have been looking around for a business to buy ever since. I have probably reviewed hundreds of deals if not thousands at this point but never found the right fit and after 5 M&A integrations it was a bit hard to balance it all. I was mostly searching via the public listing sites and finally turned on outreach 3 months or so again but did it in a very curated way (lots of research on owners, interests, etc.). Let me tell you - there are businesses out there for all it just takes some effort and grit.

My advice for you isn't rocket science but hopefully provides a reset or a starting point.

1) Read all the primers and books on buying a company (buy then build, etc)
2) Sign up for free hubspot - dont over think the CRM thing. Tried them all - they all do the same thing roughly
3) Find the right email automation software
4) Get on Twitter - I don't do social media but made an exception for this; been a gold mine and full of nice people
5) Don't boil the ocean - pick a couple focus areas and/or geographies and stick to them. At one point I had something like 30k businesses in my CRM and that was just in LA. Don't do that. Luckily I learned quickly
6) Connect with other searchers - everyone is in the same boat and it gets lonely and hard. Also your significant other can only take so much of the business talk
7) Find an outlet - golf, gardening, pottery, cars, it doesn't matter; just make sure you have one because you will have some dark days and you need to find something to focus your attention on. When you are at your breaking point you don't operate well.
8) Reach out to the service providers out there QofE, Brokers, Loan Brokers, Legal, Insurance - i have found them to be really nice people and its still a small space no matter how much chatter you hear
9) Set up a simple website - something in between a PE firm and a resume about you. There are plenty of examples out there. Move fast - you want some presentable but not complicated
10) Use a deal aggregator - there are too many websites to check with limited time. Easier to pay for one of these.
11) Don't settle - i have had a number of deals that blew up (luckily at the beginning) or deals that I thought may have been a good fit but I trusted my gut and I was right
12) The financials are important but the relationship is way more important - sure some owners will leave instantly but in other cases they are a very valuable trove of information that you should leverage
13) Write things down - this may seem intuitive but in the moment you will forget and will need those details for something in the future - just use something like Notion to log all your notes
14) You will feel dumb at many points in this journey - you have to embrace it. What you learned in Bschool or undergrad or kindergarten will only get you so far; there is a lot of things you won't know. Leverage those relationships with searchers and service providers
15) Have fun and show your personality - I don't know how many times this has helped with conversations. No one likes someone too serious

Reach out if you need any advice. Happy to chat.