Business owners are working to process the impact of COVID-19… and we’re investigating how it will affect M&A and business sales. As you’ve undoubtedly seen the short term impact is that companies have (and will) slow the pace of acquisitions. That’s natural in uncertain times.
However, market conditions are vastly different from our last recession. The good news is that many companies and private equity firms have been doing well for years. They have record amounts of “dry powder,” aka undeployed capital, which is ready for investment. This indicates that the pool of business buyers is still here. Market competition has been incredibly strong up until now, and many buyers are going to stay active. Some may even become more aggressive in order to capitalize on the current climate.
Since the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to 0%, buyers may decide they simply must move ahead with acquisition plans.
In the meantime, if you’re experiencing downtime in your business, consider ways to grow or diversify, such as:
Marketing: Update your value proposition. What are your three distinct signature strengths that set you apart from the competition? Make sure this information is updated on your website, marketing materials, presentation decks, etc.
Recruit: If your business is still in a good place, use this time to seek out great talent as the number of persons in limbo/transition is higher than ever.
Brainstorm: Plan ideation sessions with your employees and brainstorm business development opportunities. Look for ideas that will make you successful in a normal business environment and consider how you might thrive through future pandemics.
Document: Get your secret sauce down on paper. A business is more saleable when there’s less risk involved. There is less risk when all systems and procedures are documented on paper instead of only in the owner’s mind. In addition, document what you did and how you did it during this pandemic.
When it comes to selling your business, timing is important. We expected a market correction coming as we were in the midst of the longest bull market in history. We did expect a pandemic trigger, but thought it would likely be some kind of political or global conflict.
Main Street and M&A markets align with business confidence. When things are normal and steady, buyers feel comfortable due to lower risk perceptions. When it’s unpredictable or volatile, buyers pull back. Conditions are not all doom and gloom. However, buyers and sellers both have the opportunity to emerge as winners in the months ahead. For business owners who make the most of this unplanned downtime, business value will likely be increased.