A deal falling apart is the worst, particularly when it happens as you approach the closing table. Deals don’t close for a myriad of reasons, but to prevent it from happening in yours it might help to know what the market currently shows in terms of the reasons why deals fail. The IBBA and M&A Source Market Pulse Survey from the last half of 2022 offers some insight into why deals collapse.
The report shows that for Main Street businesses ($2MM or less) the main reason deals don’t close is poor financials – which doesn’t just mean that your business accounting system consists of a box of crumpled receipts under your desk. It also means you may have misrepresented, not fully understood or embellished your numbers. Misrepresenting your numbers, whether intentional or not, is a bad look and can lead a buyer to mistrust you to the point that they no longer want to continue with the deal.
Across both Main Street and Lower Middle Market ($2MM to $50MM) the overall reason deals don’t close is an unrealistic seller value expectation. You may have a magic number in your head, you may have a figure you’d love to get for your business that is based on what you’ve invested over the years, you may have a written valuation from a professional that specializes in your industry – but in the reality of the business-for-sale market all of those numbers essentially mean nothing. Your business is actually worth what a buyer actually pays you for it.
Another major factor in the death of deals is time. The longer you make a buyer wait, the longer your business is listed, the longer the transaction takes to work it’s way through the process the more likely it is to die. People change their minds, the market fluctuates, life circumstances get in the way. The way to combat time as a killer is to be ready. Have your financials in order, prep (with your business broker’s help) the answers to commonly asked buyer questions and be proactive with buyer requests – handling them the moment they come in.
If you’re a business buyer, know going in that some really great businesses have records that are lackluster (in terms of organization) at best. Also understand that it can be incredibly difficult for a seller to put a number on all their years of hard work and investment. Be patient with your negotiations and ready to possibly dig through a box of receipts.
The moral of this story is although some reasons your deal might fall apart are out of your hands – most reasons are absolutely within your control. Go in ready, with realistic expectations and you’ll have a far better chance of seeing that closing table.
Do you have a Main Street business to sell and want to know what businesses like yours have recently sold for? Would you like to know how to get your financials ready for buyer’s eyes? Do you have questions about how to negotiate with a seller who has their business listed for an unrealistic price? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.