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Scaling Made Simpler

Building a successful business is hard, but many become their own boss and start a business. Being a business owner is challenging, and many businesses fail.

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Five Lower Middle Market M&A Trends In 2023

The lower middle market is a highly dynamic and active segment of the M&A landscape, characterized by companies with enterprise values up to $100 million. In early 2023, several key trends appear to shape the lower middle market M & A landscape.

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Founder-Owned Businesses Are Attractive M&A Targets

According to a recent Pitchbook report, buyers favor non-backed private companies in today’s M&A market. Non-backed companies are defined as not receiving any outside capital from private equity, venture capital backers, or angel investors.

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Benefits Of Acquisition

An acquisition is a transaction in which one company purchases another or a portion of its assets. The acquiring company, also known as the buyer, assumes control of the target company, the seller, by purchasing its stock or specific investments.

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Road Trip!

If you have ever taken a family road trip, you understand the necessity of planning in advance. Navigation systems and GPS have made it easier, but advanced planning will make the journey more enjoyable. The most important decision is what is the intended destination. Once that is determined, there are a whole series of decisions that must be made, either in advance or along the way, to reach that ultimate vacation spot. The questions include which car we should drive, what roads we should take, how fast we can drive, whether we should pack a cooler or eat at restaurants along the way, what our budget is, and where we will stay.

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What Could Go Wrong?

The majority of sellers within the lower middle market only go through the sale process once in their lifetimes. Sellers often hire an M&A expert to help guide them through the sale process and advocate on their behalf. While M&A experts have a wealth of experience, they do not have a crystal ball.

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What Type Of Research Might A Buyer Conduct On My Business?

Before completing a deal, buyers may conduct a variety of different research on a seller’s business to better understand its complexities of it prior to due diligence. This research is an important step to ensuring that due diligence is carried out. Business research occurs in a variety of different ways.

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Don't Miss Our Deep Dive Into Strategic Buyers

One of our Managing Partners at Benchmark International drafted an exclusive publication detailing many of the attributes that are unique to strategic buyers and how those attributes can impact   business owners in the sale of their business. 

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What is Net Working Capital?

What is Net Working Capital?

Introduction

Working capital also called net working capital, measures a company's financial security. According to Jensen and Meckling, authors of the new famous Theory of the Firm (1976), the components of working capital measure the firm's shareholder value. Working capital helps evaluate a company's short-term health, liquidity, and ability to invest and grow its operations. Working capital is defined as current assets less current liabilities. Current assets often include cash, accounts receivable, customer unpaid bills, and inventory, with current liabilities encompassing accounts payable and short-term debts, to name a few.

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Why Competition Matters

How will running a competitive bid process help me?

The lower middle market remains very active, and we anticipate that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. If you are a business owner, you have probably received unsolicited interest and perhaps even offers for your business. There is a lot of money chasing few deals, so buyers are looking to find off-market deals to build their pipeline and purchase a business below market value to boost their investors’ returns. Having additional buyers at the table tends only to benefit the seller.

When a buyer uncovers an off-market deal, they are often in a better position to buy the business at a discounted price than what they would pay in a formal auction or open bid process. Buyers seek acquisitions to help solve a problem or hit an ROI benchmark. If the buyer can purchase a business below market, then the buyer ends up winning both in the current transaction and future transactions. The business owner is the one who tends to have seller’s remorse. Our team commonly speaks with buyers who will not participate in auction processes because they do not want to pay top dollar, and those buyers know that they are not willing to do what it takes to win the bid.

If you have ever watched an episode of Shark Tank when all the sharks are bidding on an opportunity, you have seen how a competitive bid process can benefit the company pitching to the sharks. When Lori Greiner, Barbara Coroan, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, or Mark Cuban share an interest in an opportunity, it often piques the interest of another shark who wants to jump in and try to win the bid. Sometimes, the sharks even go into the deal together. This process also happens for deals within the lower middle market. When two buyers go into a deal together, they are called co-investments. In this case, two can be better than one. However, you will not know if co-investments are an option until you go to market and run a process.

When a seller receives an offer from an unsolicited party, the offer only reflects one party’s view of the value of the business. Businesses are comprised of both tangible and intangible assets. That is, the value of the business lies not only in its tangible assets like machines and inventory but, perhaps more importantly, in the quality of its people, process, customer base, and intellectual property. Acquirers buy businesses for many reasons, including for geographic expansion, product line development, talent acquisition, and competitive advantages, to name a few. Why is a business worth 5x to one buyer but 7x to another? A business's real value is the opportunities an acquirer has post-closing. Ultimately, the only way to know if the offer in hand is a representation of the market or even the best option for the business owner is to explore multiple views of the value of the business.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

If you move forward with the one offer available, what will you do if the deal falls apart during due diligence? Due diligence can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process. If you go through the due diligence process and the deal is unsuccessful, what? You will not have a second or third option. The sale process can be very emotional. Often, when a deal closing is not successful, a firm that ran a bid process will typically have a handful of bidders that they are able to re-engage to work toward a successful closing. The deal team can utilize the initial data request and due diligence process to make the workload lighter the second time around. An experienced M&A deal team will be able to craft a strategy to target active buyers from previous efforts and bring them back to the table. However, if you only have one option, you must start over from the beginning. By the time you start over, you are at risk of missing the market, which might cost you tens of millions of dollars.

The other great aspect of running a bid process is that you have leverage during due diligence. Typically, when a letter of intent is signed, the negotiation power shifts from the seller to the buyer. If you have other suitors waiting in the background, an experienced M&A deal team can use that competitive tension to help a seller secure the best deal on the market and keep the buyer in check. The buyer who ultimately wins a formal auction process knows that there were other suitors competing for the bid.

It is crucial for any seller considering a sale to hire a capable sell-side M&A firm to take them to market. A dedicated sell-side team virtually assures you that you will have multiple suitors and bids. You will be able to see several different views on the value of your business and be able to determine the optimal deal structure. The process will allow you to explore other partnerships and understand what competitive advantage various firms can bring to the table. If you compare the company sale process to dating, it is good to know what other suitors offer so you can pick the best one for you! Having an experienced M&A team take you to market to uncover your best options will give you the peace of mind that you have the information you need to make the best decision for you and your business.

  Author
  Kendall Stafford
  Managing Partner
  Benchmark International

  T: +1 512 347 2000
  E: STAFFORD@BENCHMARKINTL.COM

 

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Types of Financial Buyers

There are two types of buyers: strategic buyers and financial buyers. Commercial lenders, family offices, private equity funds, mezzanine funds, independent investors, and other capital providers are all financial buyers. Strategic buyers include everything else. It can be beneficial to entertain both financial and strategic buyers when you are selling your business. Still, it is important to understand how financial buyers think and what you’re dealing with as you work through conversations and negotiations.

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Why Does Ebitda Get Adjusted?

In the world of small to mid-market mergers and acquisitions, a number that is very important is a company’s adjusted EBITDA. The adjusted EBITDA is meant to find a company’s true normalized earnings by taking away any outside influences or ownership influences on the company’s bottom line. Some companies do not have to make many adjustments in order to find adjusted EBITDA, while some companies may need many adjustments to arrive at adjusted EBITDA.

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Family Business Succession Planning And Success Rates

A family business is technically defined as an organization that is owned and operated by at least two members of the same family. Family businesses actually account for around two-thirds of all companies worldwide, and 90% of companies in the U.S. The largest 500 family-owned companies generate annual revenues of $6.5 trillion. Global research has also demonstrated that well-run family companies are more profitable and stay in business longer than other companies, even with the many challenges they face. 

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U.S. Small Business Confidence Drops Amid Inflation Concerns

Last month, small business sentiment in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in nearly 9-1/2 years due to concerns surrounding inflation. Yet, at the same time, demand for labor remains more substantial than expected as companies continue to pursue growth.

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What Are Environmental, Social, And Governance (ESG) Policies And B Corp Certification?

As a business owner, you may have noticed an increase in conversations regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies in the workplace and B Corp status. Even though these policies are being implemented more frequently with larger companies, many small and mid-size business owners are not fully aware of what these policies are, what they mean, and how they are affecting investor behavior and M&A transactions. Let’s start by breaking down exactly what ESG is. 

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What Are The Pros And Cons Of An IPO?

An IPO is an initial public offering (IPO), which is the first limited public stock sale by a private company. IPOs are a strategy often used by smaller businesses to raise capital from public investors in order to facilitate expansion and growth. Once public, the company can be traded on the open market. There are both upsides and downsides to taking a company public. 

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Top Reasons Business Owners Seek An M&A Strategy

What is an M&A Strategy?
A strategy for a merger or acquisition is the rationale behind the transaction. Your objective should determine the type of deal that is right for your company. Maybe there is even more than one objective. Commonly, these goals are focused on boosting financial performance and mitigating risk.

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How Can M&A Help My Business Recover From Covid?

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us quite a few lessons for keeping a business surviving and thriving in unchartered territories. Now is the time to be forward-thinking. There are ways that you, as a business owner, can utilize mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as an effective strategy to accelerate your company’s recovery from the lingering impacts of the pandemic from both a defensive and offensive perspective.

OFFENSE:


Accelerate Your Business Model

Inorganic Growth
Emerging from a pandemic is not the time for organic growth strategies for most businesses. This is especially true for sectors that have experienced irreparable impacts, such as retail, hospitality, tourism, and live entertainment. However, M&A can accelerate growth within a business model is otherwise not feasible or accessible ways. Whether it’s accessing new supply chains or acquiring a competitor’s talent, M&A is an effective tool that can open up several possibilities for growth and success.

Disruptive M&A
Technology and innovation have become more imperative than ever because of the need for rapid digitalization during the pandemic. When remote working and online conferencing became the norm, disruptive tech was put on an epic fast track. Everyone wants what is hot, and they want it ASAP. Otherwise, they risk falling behind the competition. As a result, these technologies offer significant M&A opportunities for companies in many sectors, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Boosting Supply Chains
Supply chains have taken a significant hit due to the pandemic, with some sectors experiencing worse disruptions than others (such as automotive, energy, and manufacturing). As a result, these sectors are being forced to reboot and find ways to alter their supply chains to get what they need. This is where M&A can be a real game-changer, helping companies gain access to alternative supply chains and keeping operations on track.

Alliances and Joint Ventures
Because of the pandemic, consumer behaviors and spending patterns have changed. Welcome to the new normal. This means that businesses will need to look to new strategic alliances to be more agile in catering to new customer habits, and M&A can help make these joint ventures a reality.

DEFENSE:


Protect Your Future

Integration and Value Creation
Now more than ever, many companies need to cut costs, free up working capital, and do it quickly. M&A is one of the more timely ways to make this happen. Also, planning on ways to create value today can protect your business in the future. By turning to M&A, you can both integrate and develop.

Divestitures and Separations
As economic pressures persist, many businesses need to divest non-essential assets. At the same time, they may also need to unload any highly sought-after assets for financial reasons. There are also opportunities due to sustainable investing becoming much more popular. In addition, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives lead to rebalancing portfolios, which could mean actionable assets for divestiture. In any case, sellers should enlist professional M&A advisement to ensure that they avoid getting into asset fire sales. Learn more about the value of hiring an M&A advisor here.

End-to-End Distressed M&A
2021 was a record year for M&A, and a great deal of opportunity still exists. Many types of investors, including private equity, activist, and corporate investors, have strong balance sheets. They are sitting on plenty of cash and are in the position to move quickly on acquisitions of distressed businesses.

Let’s Get Started
If you think M&A strategies could benefit your company, our experts at Benchmark International would love to hear from you so that we can discuss your options and help you make the most of your success.

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What Is The Difference Between An M&A Advisor And A Business Broker?

When you are about to sell a business, you have a few options regarding how to do it, and whose expertise to enlist. Many people confuse M&A advisors with business brokers. While there are some similarities, they are not one and the same. There is actually more than one significant difference between an M&A advisor and a business broker. It is important for any business owner to understand these differences, so that it can be determined which is the best way to go about the sale of a company.

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Benchmark International Named Gamechangers™ Progress Champion 2022

Benchmark International continues to draw accolades on the world stage, being awarded the Gamechanger™ Progress Champion Award 2022 by the Gamechangers™ 2022 Global Awards.

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