Finding a buyer

Finding a buyer

Types of Buyer


High net worth investors with industry experience

These buyers are often business owners in their 50s and 60s who have recently sold businesses for substantial amounts. Left with time on their hands, they are typically not people who want to retire early. They are therefore looking for a smaller business in the industry they know, to which they can bring their experience, contacts and financial backing.

We typically see this scenario with the precision engineering sector. Such buyers are looking for engineering companies turning over £1m to £4m. Often they are looking to acquire 3-4 companies in order to build a group with a turnover of £10m to £15m.


Trade / Strategic buyers

These buyers are existing companies in similar or aligned industries looking to expand and/or diversify. Whilst direct competitors may be interested in acquiring their competition’s client base, they do not tend to offer the highest value.

The best trade buyers are those who have a strategic objective. For example, to extend the coverage of their service into another geographic region or to add a complimentary service to their existing business and open up the opportunity to cross-sell to the merged client base.

Most of the trade sales we have completed have been for professional B2B service sector businesses, such as IT support companies, marketing agencies, and accountancy practices. With these types of businesses, buyers need to have specific industry knowledge and capability.


Private equity with management buy-in

These buyers are usually looking for businesses with annual revenues of over £5m and a net profit of over £1m. There is a growing number of small private equity firms looking at a variety of industry sectors and the smaller end of the market. They look particularly at the growth potential and obviously the return on their investment and often have a pool of management buy-in (MBI) candidates with the relevant industry knowledge to take charge of the business post-acquisition.

We are often approached by such niche private equity firms who focus on buying businesses in the engineering and B2B service sectors we specialise in, as well as MBI candidates themselves who are already backed by an appropriate private equity firm.


SME Investment Buyer

These buyers often look for companies smaller than the £5m+ companies that typical Private Equity firms look for, as mentioned above. They’re also often a lot more ‘hands on’ with their approach and look to build a modest size portfolio.


Entrepreneurs with spare cash of £200k to £1m

These buyers fall again into two categories:

  1. A)those who have built up their cash reserves during a successful career, for example in the city or a large corporation. Having left the corporate world they are looking for something more interesting to invest in and manage than the alternative of property or leaving the cash in the bank.
  2. B)Serial entrepreneurs who build businesses over a period of 3-5 years with the purpose of selling and starting again on a new venture. Either way, these buyers tend to be looking for small, sub £1m turnover, highly niche businesses.


Where should you look?


Attend your industry’s trade shows and expos

There’s no better way to build your industry network than to attend trade shows. They’re often packed with large numbers of relevant people and they’ll be an excellent place to scout out both companies and contacts.


Read industry news and related business press

Keeping up to date with the movers and shakers within your industry is always a good idea. Reading relevant industry news and publications could highlight companies or individuals that are active buyers and therefore a potential target for you.


Subscribe to the email newsletters of the merger and acquisition (M&A) advisors that specialise in your industry

These newsletters will be a great source of information on people and companies that are looking to buy, as well as the types of businesses that are looking to sell.


Engage a business broker

We’re biased, of course, but engaging a business broker to help you find the best buyer for your business really is one of the best decisions you can make with it comes to selling your business. Business brokers are there to help you find the right people, get your business ‘sale-ready’ and answer your questions. The only thing you have to do is find the right one!


This article originally appeared as part of the Ultimate Guide on in August 2020. Other articles from the guide can be found via the links below:

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