As in love or in any negotiation, being the person who makes the first move usually puts you in a vulnerable position and at a slight disadvantage. The first-mover tips their hand and reveals just how much he/she wants the asset being negotiated.

Likewise, when considering the sale of your business, it is always nice to be the once being chased, rather than being the one doing the courting. The good news is, there are ways to improve the odds of getting an unsolicited offer from someone wanting to buy your business.

Big companies buy smaller ones for a lot of reasons and the current market conditions are accelerating their appetite: interest rates are rising impacting organic opportunities and stock markets are off their all time highs, so companies are looking to add positive stories to their news feeds while being mindful of finding accretive acquisitions.

So how do you ensure you are on their radar? Here are a few ways to get noticed by an acquirer:

1. Win an award

Ever wonder why the big accounting firms have their “Entrepreneur of the year/region awards”.  While is obviously a great way to ensure clients remember you, but clients are not always sure what they get out of it.  However – getting recognized as the “Gadget Maker of the Year” by the Gadget Makers Association (or the entrepreneur of the year) is a great way to get the attention of acquirers in your industry.

2. Host an event

Consider hosting an event (e.g., conference, tradeshow, summit) for your industry and invite representatives from potential acquirers to attend. Being invited to an industry event can be flattering for acquirers and it is a good way to get them to notice you as an industry leader.

3. Hire a public relations firm

Engaging a public relations firm to tell your story to the media can get you on the radar of buyers in your industry.  While a lot of media relations firms focus on the big mainstream publications, and while these are important, ensure that your PR firm also targets trade publication and industry-specific websites that are read by acquirers in your industry.  If a firm is not in your budget, there are a number of PR professionals that freelance at a more affordable price point.

4. Join a board

If an executive from a company you think would make a natural buyer for your business is serving on a board of directors, consider joining the board. Serving on a board together can be a great way for an acquirer to notice you and your company without you having to say you’re for sale.

5. Grab lunch

Consider inviting a senior executive from a potential acquirer to share a meal under the guise of discussing trends in your industry. At the very least, you may glean some useful information about how big companies are seeing your industry evolve. At best, your lunch mate may realize that your company could play a key role in helping them grow.

The sale of your business is a delicate dance where it is usually better to be the courted, rather than the courter. Acquirers are on the hunt for new businesses, and having them notice you will put you in a position of strength when you get to sit down at the negotiation table.

We would love to hear your story – please feel free to contact us anytime (we are good with evenings and weekend chats).