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  • Writer's pictureMax Lummis

Avoiding Business Acquisition Pitfalls

Business acquisitions can be a lucrative strategy for companies looking to expand their operations, gain new customers, and acquire new technology. However, acquisitions come with their own set of risks and potential pitfalls that must be carefully considered before proceeding.

Today’s blog outlines some of the most common potential pitfalls in business acquisitions and provides guidance for minimizing their impact.

Underestimation of Costs: Buyers often underestimate the costs associated with acquiring a business. These costs may include legal and financial due diligence, integration expenses, and employee retention costs. To avoid this pitfall, buyers should carefully assess all acquisition costs and have a contingency plan in place to cover any unexpected costs. If making an initial platform acquisition, generally the target needs to be of a size that justifies the deal costs.

Misrepresentation of Financial Information: In the lower middle market, stated financial information is often less than reliable. In most cases, the inaccurate figures are simply the result of untrained accounting staff and a lack of proper accounting principles. However, in some instances there may be manipulation of financial records to inflate the company’s value. Such manipulation can be done by inflating revenue or profits, hiding debts, or using other accounting tricks to misrepresent the target’s financial health. This type of fraud can lead to overvaluation of the target and potentially serious financial losses for the acquiring entity. To minimize such risks buyers should conduct thorough financial and tax due diligence focusing on the nuances of the industry in which the target operates.

Unforeseen Legal Issues: Acquisitions can also bring up unforeseen legal issues, such as disputes over intellectual property rights, employee contracts, and regulatory compliance. To minimize this risk, companies should conduct thorough legal due diligence before proceeding with the acquisition and have a plan in place to address any legal issues that may arise.

Misaligned Expectations: Misaligned expectations can arise when the acquiring company and the target company have different goals and expectations for the acquisition. Such misalignment can result in a lack of communication and cooperation between the two companies, leading to a breakdown in the acquisition process. To avoid this pitfall, companies should communicate openly and regularly about their expectations for the acquisition and ensure that both parties are aligned.

Lost Focus: Acquisitions can distract a company from its core business and cause it to lose focus on its primary goals. Companies should be mindful of this risk and ensure that the acquisition aligns with their overall strategic goals.

Integration Challenges: Integrating two businesses can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful planning and execution. There may be differences in company culture, processes, systems, and employee morale that can cause friction and hinder the success of the integration. To mitigate this risk, companies should develop a detailed integration plan that addresses these challenges and provides clear guidelines for the integration process.

Lack of Cultural Fit: A lack of cultural fit between the acquiring company and the target company can lead to low employee morale, turnover, and decreased productivity. To avoid this pitfall, companies should assess the cultural fit between the two companies and consider the impact of the acquisition on employees before proceeding.

Business acquisitions often provide significant opportunities for growth and expansion. Despite the allure however, it is important for buyers to be aware of the potential pitfalls and take steps to avoid them or minimize their impact. By conducting thorough due diligence, communicating openly and regularly, and aligning expectations, buyers can minimize the risks associated with acquisitions and ensure their success. It should be noted, however, that the deal's closing is just the beginning, and the real challenges begin post acquisition.

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