The topic of mergers & acquisitions periodically pops up during our Mentor Meetings and, with five seasoned entrepreneurs and CEOs in the room, there's bound to be at least one person with an experience to share.
When the topic emerged in a Mentor Meeting during our second cohort, we were surprised to discover that all five mentors had experience with mergers and acquisitions. We have distilled that two-hour conversation into five key points to consider when faced with the prospect of being purchased by and/or joining other companies.
1. Be transparent, but not too transparent. “We were testing the market to see if we could sell it. We huddled up [our employees] in the room and told them what was going on. What that did was spread panic through everybody. The employees were looking for jobs and there were a lot of questions about what the status of the process was. For us, being too transparent backfired.”
2. There’s a fine line between the small stuff and the important stuff. “I hired a corporate lawyer to represent me. There were some things that the lawyers found hidden in the contract. They will find every point of exposure in your deal. They think they are doing it in your best interest. I lost many nights of sleep going over things in there or getting them changed. It ended up costing me a fortune to debate these fine points.”
3. Find a company that is a cultural fit. “The competitors we sold the company to...we hated. We knew we hated them, and when we sold, it was a bad thing culturally. The right thing will be a no-brainer, but if you are counting on the culture to be something that you like, consider [dating] that culture for a time.”
4. It’s not just about the money. “For us, our bank accounts are bigger, but our personal happiness is lower. A lot of the things that I like to do I can’t do very well here.”
5. You have control. “At the end of the day you are the one that gets to decide what you are going to do.”