This is how NOT to buy a business…
- Have a strategic grand design and make it a ‘must’ – by definition that excludes all other possibilities.
- Never review the strategy – and don’t promptly modify or scrap plans if events contradict them.
- Make sure that the strategic buy plays not to your strengths, but to your weaknesses.
- Increase the initial risk exposure by unplanned pre- and post-acquisition initiatives – like raising the price.
- Take external and internal approvals of the strategic stroke as confirming its rightness – and always ignore Cassandras, internal or external.
- Don’t let anybody lower down criticise the strategy or the buy, and over-commit top management to the deal
- Apply the buyer’s accepted rules and routines – without their being checked for relevance.
- Discourage messengers from bringing bad news – and ensure that corrective reaction to bad news is dangerously delayed.
- Do not admit failure: rather, deny it.
This is how ace buyers purchase a business…
- There’s no grand design; the deal is strictly opportunistic, and disposals of unwanted bits are briskly made.
- The business strategy is highly flexible, and, after disposals, largely left to operating management.
- The purchaser is only interested in the buy’s strengths, and acts swiftly to eradicate weaknesses and weak operations.
- Post-acquisition management follows a model developed from experience, designed to narrow the already small risks.
- The acquirer is only interested in external and internal approval to the extent that approval helps or hinders the capture of the target.
- Top management is committed only to the economic success of the deal.
- The rules and routines applied to the new situation have worked in many takeovers and situations.
- Bad news produces immediate and effective correction.
- Failure is not excused; the acquisition has to meet the purchaser’s simple, clear and comprehensive purpose: to make money.