merger-240px-465330714Small business owners want their companies to grow. An efficient way to do this may be to acquire and merge with another company. But it’s not a sure thing, and usually when it doesn’t pay off, it’s because of management issues, and not market conditions.

Read these eight key strategies that could make the difference between success and failure. No matter the size of the businesses involved, planning with these strategies in mind is critical.

Pre-Merger Strategies

  1. Do the businesses fit with each other? If they aren’t compatible, in terms of goals and ethics, merging them can be counter-productive. This includes financial structures, customer bases and corporate cultures that aren’t radically different.
  2. Listen to the seller. Many times it isn’t money that’s of primary importance. If a small business owner can satisfy the seller’s non-financial concerns, they’ll have more negotiating power and the deal will go more smoothly.
  3. Do research. Remember, the more knowledge the buyer has, the fewer surprises they’ll find. Besides careful accounting, spot check with customers, chat with vendors and employees and talk to the neighbors
  4. Develop a game plan. The small business owner should know, long before the purchase agreement is signed, how exactly the two operations are going to be joined.
  5. Trust your instincts. Even when the details look good, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t be reluctant to back out.

Post-Merger Strategies

  1. Decide on a team. Before the merger is announced, know what the employee structure will be at the new company. The person in charge will need plenty of time to focus on the new company and won’t be able to just add these duties to current assignments. Make sure that person has plenty of time to devote to what can be an arduous task. Also, don’t automatically get rid of the acquired company’s old guard. Their experience is likely to provide stability.
  2. Think about the culture. Little things like who gets invited to a company party can throw a merged operation into a tizzy. The more the buyer knows about the acquired company’s culture, the more likely they will be to avoid awkward situations.
  3. Keep talking. Controlling rumors among employees, shareholders and vendors is very important. Be open and honest in telling them what they need to know in order to feel secure enough to go about their business.

Mergers and acquisitions can be complicated. Before entering into negotiations, consult with Filler and Associates about:

Assets versus stock. There’s a big difference between an asset deal and a stock deal. A company could end up with unknown, costly liabilities if the transaction isn’t structured properly.

Tax implications. Some expenses generated in the buying process must be capitalized, while others can be amortized or currently deducted. Handling the sale in a tax-wise manner will save the complany in the long run.