After a rough 12 months for M&A transactions valued over $500 million (which is expected to continue in 2023 with rising interest rates and the threat of inflation), it is great to learn that the one segment that thrived in 2022 and will continue to do is the middle market, and even more so the lower middle market (definitions vary but the middle market is often defined as deals valued below $500 million and the lower middle market are those below $100 million in valuation).
This is great news for most owners of privately held companies because according to census data, the vast majority of U.S. based businesses are valued in the lower middle market. In fact, according to the latest U.S. Census/County Business Patterns series, there were 8,000,178 establishments in the U.S. Most (6,819,150) had less than 20 employees and averaged about 4.4 each. That’s about 85% of the businesses in the U.S. counted in the lower middle market!
So, I read with great interest a recent study on projected deal making by Ernst & Young (EY). Entitled, “Small Deals Will Be a Bright Spot Heading Into 2023” and published in The MiddleMarket.com, the point of the article was summed up this way:
It was a tough year for dealmakers. Inflation, geopolitical tensions, and a lack of liquidity squeezed the mergers and acquisitions market. Global M&A deal volume has declined 36 percent compared to 2021, according to Refinitiv data. All sectors have declined. However, there has been a noticeable rebound in the smallest M&A deals.
The EY team believes this trend is sustainable. “We expect to continue to see this strong flow of smaller deals throughout 2023, as CEOs remain cautious as a result of ongoing geopolitical tensions and heightened uncertainty,” says Andrea Guerzoni, EY’s global vice chair of strategy and transactions. “Deal financing challenges on the back of higher interest rates, increased costs of financing, and regulatory scrutiny will also make smaller deals more attractive.”
This has been a trend the deal teams with Generational have been seeing for years: smaller, lower middle market deals continue to grow in popularity, and this will certainly be enhanced in 2023.
So when you hear that M&A activity is in overall decline from the mainstream business press, keep in mind that it is often the firms that focus on mega, billion dollar deals that are interviewed ad nauseam by the likes of the WSJ, Barons, Forbes and others. But as we have seen, 85% of business owners just like you operate and thrive in the lower middle market, a fact that should not dissuade you from following your exit plans.
Assuming you have growth and exit strategies in place (and sadly far too few don’t in this segment of the business world) you need to stay the course and realize that the segment you are in is amazingly attractive to professional buyers of all types, including strategics, private equity firms, family offices, high net worth individuals and foreign entities.
However, to ensure that your business is buyer ready and prepared for buyer scrutiny, you need accelerated growth plans to make it more attractive, and documentation that shows your business in the best, most accurate light.
Unless you have built and exited a business before, you most likely are unaware of how to develop and implement accelerated growth strategies, nor how to create effective, accurate documentation that will attract professional buyers like those listed above.
If that description matches you, I would invite you to attend a Generational Growth and Exit Strategy conference near you. You can find one in your area using this link. You can also see a full agenda of what you will learn here.
Most importantly, you will learn that building a buyer ready business is not rocket science, it takes knowledge, skill, and intentionality. Here are what a few of our Generational Consulting Group clients have to say about our accelerated growth programs:
Now as bright and hard working as these folks are, I would bet you are as well. The difference between their future and yours is action: As in taking action to aggressively pursue your business dreams and goals.
Attend one of our conferences and find out more!
Carl Doerksen is the Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.
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Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.Pete L.
We had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward.Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
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