Frequently Asked Questions about buying a business

Click on the questions below to get answers to the most frequent mergers and acquisition (M&A) questions we get asked.

If you have a specific question, not answered here, then please contact us using the contact page here.

What is deal origination?

Deal origination, or deal initiation, is the process by which firms or investors source investment opportunities. A deal origination process is where you look to find suitable targets to engage with toward an acquisition.

Often acknowledged as one of the more complex and difficult parts of the acquisition/merger and acquisition (M&A) process, deal origination is a core skill of Weston Acquisitions. Finding off market targets which dovetail your investment criteria is what you can expect and what I deliver.

We have a proven track record of sourcing and delivering deals to clients. Deals that wouldn't have been on the radar without my involvement.

Outsourcing your deal origination to me will free up valuable resources saving you both time and money.

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Why use an adviser?

I'll help you buy the right business for less money and on better terms than you could achieve by yourself.

Here's how my unique background and vast experience in selling businesses will help you secure the acquisition you're looking for.

Poacher turned gamekeeper, I formed Lucas & Weston 18 years ago, primarily as a sell-side broker. After 250+ multi-million pound deals, we know how vendors think and what their motivations are. We know how to handle the vendors advisers and their respective strategies.  We know the pitfalls and can spot where problems might lurk. Most importantly, we know how to solve problems and get deals closed. 

We have a good reputation and solid industry contacts which means people take our calls, whether that’s the CEO of a FTSE company or the MD of a small SME. We don’t blow up bridges and play a straight bat. We do not waste people’s time. We will not waste yours.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that more experience, more choice, and more detailed analysis, lead to better sourcing, better opportunities and the chance to negotiate and secure the best deal for you.

Follow this link for further ways I can help you buy the right business.

Why me, and how I can help you?

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What will it cost?

This service is designed to pay for itself and we are regularly told it is good value, as evidenced by our retained client base.

We have a minimum three-month term, after that, our engagement can be cancelled without penalty on five days’ notice. Full terms are agreed before we commence a project.

Our fees reflect the time and effort we put in, our research, our contacts, experience, the advice we offer and the value we'll add to your business and personal wealth.

We only seek projects where we can add value in excess of fees charged. You'll get a return on your investment and value for money.

Weston Acquisitions charge a simple monthly retainer, starting from £950 a month depending on the project and its scope, followed by a commission for delivery of a completed deal, agreed with you in advance. We are happy to discuss different arrangements to accommodate your budget or requirements.

We believe our fees are in the mid-range of corporate advisers outside London.

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How long does it take to find an acquisition target?

This depends on the parameters of your search criteria and complexity of your objectives. 

We tend to operate on short timescales. Most clients are reviewing and negotiating deals within a couple of weeks of engagement, often sooner.

The more focused and prepared you are, the quicker and easier the process can be. 

We will scope the project and let you know the likely best and worst-case timescales before you commit to using us.

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I’ve never done this before. Is it for me?

This depends on your experience, circumstance and ambition.

Don't be hesitant. We’re going to have some fun, and you will get a priceless education in business acquisitions in the process. You'll also get to buy a great business at a great price, guided by a safe pair of hands.

The service is entirely tailored and paced to your requirements to deliver your agreed outcome.

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Can you help me raise finance?

Yes, depending on the target and criteria, but it isn’t a principal part of what we do.

Where we can't help we are happy to refer.

Note that we like a creative challenge and have successfully negotiated many innovative deal structures for clients, allowing their resources to work to their maximum advantage. In plain English: getting them a great deal.

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When does a project end?

A project typically ends when a deal either completes or is discontinued. 

We are happy to be retained to look for targets until you decide to call time on our engagement.

We do have a minimum three-month term; thereafter, engagement can be cancelled without penalty on 5 days notice.

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Who does the work?

The work is almost entirely handled by Howard Weston – a qualified professional with years of deal-making experience and a proven track record. He does delegate some of the detective work to a trusted team of researchers, but we're big believers in there being one central coordinator who handles all aspects of a deal. The left-hand needs to know what the right is doing. No getting lost in the torrent, something that's quite common with larger firms.

You’ll also be regularly kept up to date on all activities. Want to know what’s going on or have a query? Just ask, and hear it straight from the person doing the work – Howard.

While we do most of the heavy lifting for you, there are elements of the sale process, such as legal contracts, where you'll be more engaged. However, we will be with you at every step, and not just the easy bit at the beginning.

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Are your qualified?

Yes, Howard is a CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) qualified financial adviser. He also holds the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) Corporate Finance Qualification and is a member of their Corporate Finance Faculty.

More importantly, he has a vast range of experience from completing over 250+ M&A deals.

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Is it just Howard?

Predominantly, yes, so you can expect one-to-one attention and concentrated efforts to secure you a profitable acquisition.

Howard also has a hand-picked team of researchers and a wide network of trusted and highly-skilled professional experts he can call on at short notice should we need specialist advice, say for any out of the ordinary accounting, legal, employment, property or pension issues.

You will not be lost in a sea of other clients or bounced from pillar to post among a revolving deal team.You will get personal and dedicated attention.

Weston Acquisitions's service works, and I know that if we work together, you'll make money.

Over the last 18 years, Howard has generated millions of pounds in profits and assets for my private clients. He would like to help you prosper too.

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Can't I just start a business?

Yes, you can. However, starting a business from scratch is hard work, time consuming and full of risk with the majority of start-ups most likely hitting a brick wall in the first few years.

A carefully chosen acquisition can be instantly profitable as you hit the ground running.

Building and growing from an existing platform is both rewarding and lucrative. It can save you years of toil too.

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Who do you help?

Private investors, entrepreneurs, private equity firms and organisations get the most from working with me when they are focused, prepared and have a clear understanding of what they are looking for. Having clear objectives of what you would like to achieve is imperative.

Many of our clients are at, or are reaching, the top of their respective fields. Businesses we have worked with have added millions of pounds to their bottom lines.

We are always happy to look at new situations or circumstances that need a unique solution. If you find yourself stuck, give us a call on +44 (0)1225 460 777.

Please Note: If you're looking for a get rich quick scheme, think you can buy a profitable business for £1, looking to deceive or aren't serious about buying a business, we can't help you.

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I have an acquisition target already?

Great. Perhaps you need help with the negotiation. Would it also be a relief to get help with valuation and deal structure?

It is very easy not to see the wood for the trees. Perhaps a second opinion or some independent advice would be useful too.

Take a look at the services page for details of the help we can offer.

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How many clients do you represent at a time?

Because of the bespoke nature of the service we offer, we are selective about the clients I represent. 

Because we deliver a service that matches my clients needs precisely, we only take on a limited amount of projects. There is usually no more than 5 to 8 clients on our books at any given point.

Of course, we're always careful to make sure no two clients are looking at the same opportunities.

You can be sure of my attention and focus at all times. 

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Will you find me multiple acquisition opportunities?

Yes. Typically, initial research usually identifies a minimum of 6 or 7 opportunities. However, much depends upon the search criteria. 

The more focused the search, the better the outcome.

A vague outline with non specific features is a lot harder. A proverbial needle in a haystack - but not impossible, it just takes longer and can cost you more. 

For example, a brief searching for a profitable business in the food preparation sector, with £2m+ revenues, £500k of profit, within the M25, with second-tier management and a good spread of clients, is better than:
"l'll look at anything, anywhere." or "I'll know it when i see it."

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How do you find the targets?

Anyone can search the internet and find many businesses for sale. It is fun to window shop. However, most on-market businesses are either overpriced, or have non serious sellers. Should you go further you risk ending up competing in an open market, tossed around auction style, where the highest bidder prevails.

Even with the fanciest sniper rifle in the world, if you don't have a clear target, you miss the shot. In order to help you we must have a good brief to work from. We can then initiate a thorough bespoke research programme to identify suitable targets.

With meticulous research, it is possible to identify targets from a wide range of sources, e.g. business brokers, PE firms, my contact database, targeted direct approaches, and data-driven investigation of the market.

With 83% of deals coming from off-market opportunities, most owners will accommodate a conversation about a sale if approached in the right way. This is critical and is where it really helps to have Weston Acquisitions as the go-between. 

Approach the vendor in the wrong way and you'll eliminate an opportunity before you've even got started. Then there's negotiating, structuring and securing the deal. Don't forget the legalities too - a potential minefield for the unwary.

Finding a business that is right for you and on terms that can make a deal happen, is not an everyday skill. We will be delighted if you choose Weston Acquisitions to represent you.

Remember, finding your perfect acquisition is only ever a short phone call away. Howard's direct line is +44 (0)1225 460 777 if want to discuss how we will you find the right business for you.

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Will I need a lawyer?

Once a deal is agreed, you will need a solicitor's to draw up the definitive Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA)/contract. It is vital that you work with a solicitor whose main field of expertise is corporate law - principally the buying and selling of businesses. Choosing the wrong solicitor is an expensive mistake - maybe you can afford to waste money, but can you afford the stress and time it takes to start your deal from scratch?

Will you be reviewing and checking the financial status yourself?

If not, you might also want to retain an accountant for any financial due diligence that you'll want to undertake. This is particularly important if bank finance is involved.

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Is it true most business sales fall apart?

It is true that a lot of deals fall apart and lots of statistics are bandied around. Unrealistic vendor expectations and bad initial advice are the most common causes of failure.

Like any negotiation, a business sale can have its up and downs. There are many different reasons for this.

Sometimes vendors can change their mind about selling. Perhaps there's no prospect of agreement on terms or consideration. It could be that the target is suffering a downturn or there is an unforeseen problem which moves the goalposts.

This is why working with an experienced adviser, Weston Acquisitions, who has been there and done that, can pay handsome dividends.

Knowing the pitfalls, being able to preempt and head off problems before they occur saves time and money. It can also ease frustrations which can build quickly and derail your plans.

Click here for further reasons to use Howard Weston Acquisitions to help with your acquisition.

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Do you sell businesses too?

Yes. Our parent business Lucas & Weston has been solely selling carefully selected and successful SME businesses for the past 18 years.

Visit the websites www.lucasweston.com or www.sellingabusiness.co.uk to learn more.

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What do you need from me?

Here are five things that you should have:

  1. A clear target of what you are looking for, including industry sectors, geographic locations, size of target etc. The more specific, the better.
  2. The foresight to invest some money in a search project with Weston Acquisitions.
  3. Have a C.V. and buyer profile prepared.
    (Weston Acquisitions can help with this at extra cost).
  4. Cash, or access to at least some cash funding.
  5. If debt funding is required, have some assets to leverage. Lenders won't lend if you have no skin in the game.
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How does the deal origination process work?

Initially, we will have a confidential and non-obligatory conversation on the phone one-to-one and go over your business, plans and objectives.

We take a look at what you have, what you're doing now and what you want to achieve.

Once this foundation is in place, we'll come up with a bespoke plan of action to find the right strategic fit for you in the shortest time possible.

There's no charge for this.

Assuming you're happy and want to launch a project, we can discuss this alongside answering any further queries you might have.

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Can I meet you?

In order to save time for both of us, our preference is for an initial telephone call. Or, we can meet online via Goto or Skype. 

We can then have a confidential and non-obligatory chat to discuss your requirements, available options and we can answer any queries you might have.

If you feel comfortable with Weston Acquisitions and meet our criteria for becoming a client, then yes, we’d be happy to meet to discuss your options and discuss finding you an exciting and profitable new business to buy.

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Is it confidential?

Of course. we've been in business for nearly 20 years and wouldn't survive if we wasn't discreet.

We're happy to sign a suitable Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before discussing your circumstances.

If you feel time isn't right for you to become a client, don't worry, you won't get a further sales pitch or pressure from us of any kind.

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Do you handle all the negotiations?

We strongly recommend that we do. Some of our clients are experts in their field and like to handle this themselves. But bear in mind that most find our overseeing and guidance, when needed, always adds value.

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What now?

Give us a call to start your exciting new venture. 

Our direct line is 01225 460777.

Alternatively, fill in the form below, and we'll contact you.

We look forward to talking with you shortly.

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Let's get started.

Please complete this simple form to request a confidential, non-obligatory and free conversation about your project.

Alternatively, call Howard directly on +44 (0)1225 460 777.

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