Self-funded Search Investors and Searchers,

How difficult is it for you to underwrite investments in self-funded searchers / acquisitions where the multiple is >5x LTM EBITDA?

I'll add some context to the question. Firstly, I'm a first time self-funded searcher focusing on my search full-time. Nearly all of the transactions I have pursued are in the $1-3M EBITDA range, with a few smaller and a few larger. I'm curious what valuation multiples others are seeing in transactions and investors are willing to underwrite as I have rarely seen any businesses where the seller would consider <4.5x EBITDA. The recent Search Investment Group Self-funded Search Study provided some great insights, but I find myself wondering what others are seeing and/or doing differently as I mostly have not had success bidding 3-4.5x EBITDA; at the same time it's clear this is where a lot of self-funded transactions are getting done. In many industries, companies trade at much higher multiples (even for small businesses) and sellers simply balk at the suggestion of 3-4.5x EBITDA, ultimately resulting in the seller dismissing the conversation. There are lot of factors that ultimately drive the valuation, but in the self-funded side of the search world, the sentiment certainly seems to point toward the idea that paying over 5x EBITDA is overpaying and will be a difficult deal to fund (irrespective of the industry, end market, business profile, etc.). Any and all thoughts or suggestions around how to approach the discussion would be appreciated.