Nick delves into the darker side of private equity. While acknowledging the positive aspects of private equity, such as wealth creation and entrepreneurial freedom, Nick explores the psychological game of private equity M&A. He poses the question, “Are you the prize or the prey?” and explains how private equity views business owners as assets.
- Private equity firms play a game of buying low to sell high, and it’s important for business owners to understand this dynamic when selling their company. Being aware of the tactics and strategies used by private equity firms can help business owners negotiate better deals and avoid being taken advantage of.
- Business owners need to determine whether they are the prize or the prey in the eyes of potential buyers, particularly private equity firms. If a business has high cash flow, sustainable growth, a competitive advantage, and a strong culture, it is more likely to be seen as the prize. On the other hand, if a business has weak financials and lacks these key attributes, it may be seen as the prey and buyers may use the weaknesses to negotiate a lower price.
- Falling into the prey category can result in a significantly lower sale price and less advantageous terms for the business owner. Private equity firms may use various tactics, such as renegotiating the price during due diligence or structuring the deal with unfavorable terms, to reduce the value of the business and maximize their own returns.
- Business owners who position themselves as the prize and demonstrate their value and worthiness as a seller are more likely to negotiate better deals and secure higher sale prices. Confidence, preparation, and understanding the playbook of private equity firms can give business owners an advantage in the negotiation process.
- It is crucial for business owners to be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls of selling to private equity firms. These risks include the possibility of a retrade, where the buyer reduces the agreed-upon price after conducting due diligence, as well as the potential for reputational damage if a failed sale process becomes known in the market.
“The difference between being the prize and the prey can be a life-changing sum of money.”
“You want to walk into any sales process as the prize.”
“If you’re seen as a peer, the games that the private equity firms play won’t work on you.”
“You may not be ready right now, but there will be a time in the future when you need to be the prize.”
“Don’t let the process of selling your business become a car crash. Prepare and understand the playbook.”
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Nick Bradley is a renowned entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and business growth expert.
His background is growing and scaling Venture Capital and Private Equity backed businesses globally. Over the last decade, he has completed 117 acquisitions and 25 business exits with a combined valuation of over $5bn dollars.
His mission is to help business founders build valuable businesses and create life-changing exits so they can realise freedom, wealth, and impact.
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