Buying an #smb can be a pathway to wealth and professional satisfaction. However, there are a number of pitfalls along the way that can make your life more difficult. Here are the top 10 things to watch out for on your acquisition journey:

1) Building criteria that are either too loose or too broad – if your search criteria are too broad, you’ll be unable to communicate why you’re the right fit to take over the business. If your search criteria are too narrow, you might miss out on an adjacent opportunity.

2) Not doing your homework before talking with brokers – in addition to establishing your acquisition target, you need to have a baseline level of knowledge about the acquisition process before communicating with brokers in order to be considered a serious buyer.

3) Ignoring either on-market or off-market search – it’s essential to explore both avenues to maximize your chances of finding the right acquisition target. People who shut themselves off from one side or another are constraining themselves unnecessarily.

4)Starting conversations with lenders and investors too late – it’s essential to engage lenders and investors early in the process to ensure a smooth closing. If you’re scrambling to find money for the first time when you’re under LOI, you may lose your deal.

5) Putting all of your financial hopes on a single lender or investor – diversify your funding sources to add redundancy into your process and reduce the risk that a single lender or investor could upend your deal by pulling out of the process.

6) Being overly aggressive with the broker early in the process – being overly aggressive with brokers before receiving a CIM can derail a deal. For example, read the NDA carefully, and if the terms are standard, don't nitpick. Graciously share reasonable financial information.

7) Failing to detail expectations in the LOI – taking shortcuts when constructing an LOI can lead to pain down the road. Clearly outline expectations, key terms, and conditions to smooth final negotiations over things like working capital and seller transition support.

8) Underinvesting on due diligence – this can lead to unforeseen issues and liabilities. Make sure to hire the right experts and do a thorough examination for red flags. This is your opportunity to truly understand the risks involved in your specific acquisition target.

9) Failing to build a personal relationship with the seller – acquisitions involve more than just the finances. Building a personal relationship with the seller can help facilitate a smoother acquisition. Sellers want to know who you are as a person and operator.

10) Failing to plan ahead for post-acquisition life – unless you’re hiring an operator on day 1, you’ll have to run a business after the deal closes. If you don’t build your strategies ahead of time, you may set yourself up for a rough transition.