Blog - Aug 2023

20 Things Learnt in 20 Years of M&A – Part 2

Insights by Peter Watson.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! Part 2

(The more things change, the more they stay the same!)

Continuing the theme of learnings over the past 20 years at Prism, we explore some of the softer issues in M&A – and in particular those relating to the owner-manager themselves.

The risk and reward associated with private ownership is well known, but it is all too easy to let the business take control and forgot what you, as the owner-manager, actually want from the business.

Thinking about what you want is frequently difficult. It takes effort and time to evolve. Early conversations with advisors can really help with this process by clarifying objectives –  and with clear objectives, success in an M&A context is much easier to achieve.

For many owner-managers the first step in the sale process is coming to one of our virtual seminars. These help you to prepare your business (and yourself) for the sale and importantly, what you can do to dodge the potential pitfalls along the way. ‘How to Avoid an M&A Disaster When Selling Your Tech Business’ is taking place on Tues 10 Oct – find out more here.

There is no one stereotype for a successful owner-manager, however there are certain things that you can do that will always have a positive impact on your business and its sale.


11. It takes time and effort to work out what you really want – use advisors to help facilitate this.

12. Love your business and others will love it too – sounds simple but it’s so true in sale situations.

13. Focus, focus, focus – be really good at something, this is almost always more attractive to an acquirer than a generalist.

14. If you don’t understand what’s going on in your business then others won’t either – focus on the hygiene factors early.

15. Put yourself in other people’s shoes – consider how things might look to them.

16. Managing a business is about managing people – you will need their help along the way, so keep them onside.

17. Be honest with your advisors – they can’t support you effectively if they don’t know things that are pertinent to the process.

18. There is always a spanner about to be thrown – don’t panic when it happens!

19. Work with people experienced in M&A – they know the tricks of the trade.

20. Don’t let performance drop during a sale process – this is the number one trigger for price chips.

And a bonus for those considering buying a business…

21. Accept some risk if you want to make an acquisition – if not, you will never succeed.

See our first part of our list, with the top 10 things we’ve learnt in relation to the M&A process, in last month’s blog: 20 Things Learnt in 20 Years of M&A – Part 1