Three ways to approach a business over a potential acquisition

If you’ve decided to buy a business and have identified a target, or list of targets, the next step is to start thinking about how you’re going to approach the owner over the possibility of a deal. This can be a daunting process, especially if the business you have in mind isn’t formally “for sale”. However, there are several trusted, effective ways of approaching a potential acquisition in a professional, respectful manner.

If you start the process in the right way, and enlist a trustworthy professional to advise you on how to begin, then this can lay the foundation for a smooth and successful deal. Here are three of the most common methods for approaching a business you want to buy, along with their advantages and some potential pitfalls to watch out for.

Via a broker
Approaching a potential acquisition with a professional broker acting on your behalf is perhaps the most comprehensive (and traditional) way of beginning the takeover process. This kind of expertise and professionalism does, however, mean that it is also among the costliest ways of approaching a deal.

There is of course good reason why a broker comes at a premium. When you engage this kind of professional, you gain an invaluable source of information and guidance, as well as a figure who can help guide you through other phases of the acquisition process, from research to funding.

In order to ensure you keep costs down while still gaining the expertise of a broker, it is highly advisable to research a broker’s fees, experience in the industry which you are looking to buy into and what kind of services they provide. Make sure to always balance everything a broker offers, no matter how impressive it may sound, against what you actually require.

The world of business has never been more interconnected, thanks in large part to the unifying force of professional social media such as LinkedIn. For that reason, (especially if you’re looking for businesses in a sector that you already operate in, have operated in, or operate adjacent to) you may find that you are able to approach a business via a mutual friend or contact.

If you find that someone you know and trust on a professional basis is similarly connected to a business you are interested in buying, then approaching them to act as a go-between or to make an introduction and recommendation on your behalf could provide a valuable personal touch to proceedings from the get-go.

Perhaps the most direct and almost certainly the cheapest (aka, free) way of approaching a business over a potential acquisition is via the internet. Approaching the process in this manner offers not just the means of quickly and directly contacting a potential acquisition, but also the means of researching some elements of the business to give you an easy snapshot.

Although such a method perhaps lacks the expertise and sense of security you get by approaching a business through a professional broker, there is plenty to be said for the direct route the internet offers, particularly if your initial contact is professional, clear and engaging.

There’s also the fact that this method of contacting a potential acquisition is free and, should you feel you need more guidance once you’ve made contact, it’s never too late to engage an advisor to help you take the process to the next step.