Beware of the Usual Suspects

“Insanity,” Albert Einstein said, “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

An executive once told me he unsuccessfully had been trying to grow his company through acquisition for the past five years. For one reason or another, the acquisition candidates brought to him weren’t right. Either they didn’t fit strategically or he couldn’t reach agreement with the owners.

Looking closer, I discovered one reason for this failure to execute: He had only considered the “usual suspects” as acquisition candidates. “The usual suspects” are any companies that are already known to you, for example any suppliers, competitors, or industry partners you already have a relationship with. These are the names that you think of off the top of your head.

While there’s nothing wrong with looking at such companies as acquisition prospects, other means of identifying prospects include market research, trade associations and trade shows, internal input from your employees, and for-sale companies.

There are many way to identify prospects for acquisition.

The Prospect Pipeline: There are many way to identify prospects.

If you find yourself in a similar situation as the executive, unable to complete an acquisition after five years with your list of companies, it may time to move on and identify new prospects.

Consider looking at new sources to help find fresh acquisition targets. Although turning to the “usual suspects” is natural and the easiest option, it ignores a whole host of companies that could be strategically valuable acquisitions. Searching for companies through other avenues can help identify opportunities and maximize your chances of success.

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