Avoiding traps in business takeovers
In this video about traps in business takeovers, Michèle Detaille shares her story:
- The major challenges
- Red flags
- A recurring mistake
This episode follows “Taking over a company“.
Michèle Detaille is the managing director of the Alipa group since 1996. Discover more on www.alipa.lu.
Subtitles are available in english and french.
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The major challenges of a takeover?
Obviously, you need to identify the business target. Once you have, you need to find financing. What’s difficult in a takeover I would say is the transition between when you buy and when you’re coming to the end of the support period with the seller, because you know it will end at some point, but at the same time, you need… to have good contacts and get certain information from them that may not have been self-obvious during due diligence and the period prior to the buyout. Taking over a small business involves a lot of psychology, you need to listen but stay firm about what you want to do when you become the owner because you’ll be the one responsible.
You have to be very careful to analyze everything and seek out every little detail. I also think that if you don’t trust the seller, you need to stop right away. In business, there’s a lot that relies on trust, and if you feel like “he’s hiding things from me” I’ve found out that you need to get out because a little bit of secrecy can hide big problems, so you really need to pay attention and you need to seek help from experts if it’s quite a large business. For things like due diligence, there are offices, specialized fiduciaries and it really is a profession in itself. Kind of like the walk-through when you’re moving out of an apartment or buying a house, you really have to look everywhere and that’s a profession, an expertise.
A recurring mistake?
Sometimes you might hire the wrong person for your staff. That is probably the hardest thing of all, selecting the right people knowing you’ll be able to cover some mileage together where both will be happy and there will be a positive result. It’s always too bad when you’re wrong because you waste time, there’s a loss of value in the company… It’s not positive either for the person you have to get rid of or find a new job for. And you think “Really, will I ever learn?” “I have 20 years’ experience, I was working with teams before too and here I am still making mistakes.” But that’s just part of human nature.
A piece of advice?
Do it if it’s something you really want to do, do it if you’re optimistic, and if you’re able to step back and take stock, because if you tend to get stressed, with a dark outlook, entrepreneurship is not for you.