By Patrick McMillan

Strategic growth keeps businesses alive. Sometimes, your strategy requires something dramatic, like merging your business with another entity. But mergers and acquisitions can get ugly if done incorrectly. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to avoid catastrophe.

3 Steps to a Merger and Acquisition Process
When looking at any merger and acquisition transaction, there are three phases to consider: Before, during, and after the transaction. Within each phase are multiple steps you should take to ensure you go about the process correctly.

1. Before the Transaction
You want your company to be as presentable and financially sound as possible before attempting to merge or sell. Doing so will help position your company for future financial success in your acquisition ventures. This can also increase your chances of a buyer becoming interested in your company. The preparation stage for a transaction can start one to three years before you expect to sell or merge. The sooner you start preparing for a transaction the smoother the process will be during the transaction.

2. During the Transaction
Once you find a suitable buyer, you can begin the transaction process. This should involve a quality of earnings (QofE) report, which analyzes your company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). This ensures both you and the purchasing entity
are working with the best information possible.

3. After the Transaction
The merging process isn’t over just because the transaction is over. You should reevaluate your assets and liabilities on your balance sheet aft er the transaction is complete. This phase may also involve looking at how your organization will integrate into the new business entity.

Throughout each of these three phases, your CFO is the experienced ally you need to complete your necessary financial reporting. They will ensure you are bought out by a company that has your best interests in mind.

A CFO can also help you comply with SEC and other regulations about what you can say before announcing a merger, who you can say it to, and when you can say it, including rules about trading on inside information.

5 Tips to Prepare for a Merger and Acquisition
If you want to make it through the three phases of an M&A transaction relatively quickly and unscathed, you’ll need the counsel of a CFO. Here are five tips for completing your M&A and how a CFO can help you with each of these strategies.

1. Value Your Business
Your sale price isn’t something you should take lightly—you’re worth
every penny. There are many variables considered in a valuation. A CFO
can help you identify the most important ones for your company to assess
your current value.

2. Network with Buyers
Finding a buyer is sometimes the most difficult part of the M&A process. How can you find an entrepreneur that is both experienced in your industry and has the capital to purchase your business?

CFOs have connections. They will open the door to potential buyers and help you start conversations that get the M&A process moving. This can include helping you put together pitch decks for specific buyers to maximize your chances of striking a deal. CFOs can also help you narrow
the buyers to a few viable candidates (which brings us to our next point).

3. Screen Your Potential Buyers
After introducing you to a variety of potential buyers, a CFO will work with you to ensure your buyer has your best interest in mind. You’ll
likely run into two different buyers in your journey: financial buyers and strategic buyers.

Financial buyers are simply those who are primarily interested in making money from purchasing your company. As such, they may
not be as interested in keeping your employees or using any of the infrastructures you’ve developed over the years.

Strategic buyers are looking to utilize your organization’s assets, whether it’s your technology, your employees, your vendors, or any of your business’ assets. This is the buyer you should be interested in—one that can leverage your existing successes into something greater.

4. Keep Employees Informed
Your employees are undoubtedly concerned about how a potential merger or acquisition will affect their well-being. After all, roughly 30% of employees are made redundant after a merger or acquisition within the same industry.

The best course of action is simply being transparent with your employees about their future with the company moving forward. It’s not always easy to predict which roles are on the chopping block, but a CFO can help you at least predict which roles are more likely to be made redundant.

5. Communicate with Customers
Finally, you want to be very clear with your customers about the future of your business. Your CFO will help you identify the correct time to notify your customers of an impending M&A. They can also help you answer your customers’ questions and concerns regarding the M&A, helping you prepare talking points to address when having these difficult discussions.

Your Path to Better M&A Preparation
Don’t try and tackle your mergers and acquisitions alone. Working with a professional CFO can alleviate the burdens of transactions so you
can focus on what matters most: making a deal that benefits you, your employees, and your shareholders.

For help with your mergers and acquisitions, contact Amplēo today.

Patrick McMillan is a CFO and Transaction Advisor at Amplēo who is skilled in Quality of Earnings and assisting companies before, during, and aft er transactions.