15 Jun The Core Foundations of M&A and Interacting with Business Owners
In our last Industry Veteran Spotlight, John Howe interviewed Laura Maver Ward. As Founder and Managing Partner of Kingsbridge Capital Partners and Founder and President of Dovetail Business Advisors, Ward provided a range of valuable insights. Kingsbridge Capital Partners is a lower middle market investment banking firm and Dovetail Business Advisors is a full-service M&A and business coaching and consulting firm. Ward is a highly accomplished entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience and expertise in mergers and acquisitions, management consulting, executive coaching, manufacturing, and business services.
Recently, Ward has served as chair of M&A source and chair of the International Association of Business Intermediaries. She has a unique level of insight into the world of M&A, having advised hundreds of business owners over the last 3+ decades in areas ranging from mergers and acquisitions and financial advisory issues to business growth strategies. Additionally, Ward works closely with a select group of private equity investors and entrepreneurs. In this capacity, she helps private equity investors and entrepreneurs implement targeted acquisition programs.
Understanding People and Building Trust
A key point that Ward discussed is that business brokers and those interested in M&A must understand is that the arena is, “An extremely complex business with lots of moving parts. You have to know a lot about business, about people and about how business works.”
Ward noted that being successful as a business broker is about more than knowing the “ins and outs” of a particular business or area. Additionally, one of the most critical aspects is truly including understanding people. It is vital to understand people and know what kind of clients to take and avoid. The brokerage industry has a major trust component.
Reputation and trust are two important variables in how Ward approaches businesses.
Build Your Knowledge Base
The next step is to learn as much about an industry as possible before going out into a market. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of understanding an industry before engaging with sellers. In short, it is critical that you are able to communicate in a knowledgeable fashion with business owners and show an understanding of their industry.
One of the best ways to build your reputation and establish trust is to demonstrate an understanding of a business owners’ industry. Ward noted, “You have to be targeted, learn the industry, and then target the potential sellers in that industry. You mut know the lingo.”
When dealing with business owners, Ward has seen firsthand the incredible value of being persistent. Quite often, it is through persistence that the all-important first round of communication begins. Once you begin communicating with business owners, it is essential that you understand as much as possible about the industry and the business before going into a first meeting. Like so much in life, first impressions matter greatly.