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One of my first jobs growing up was as a kitchen assistant. Little did I know, what Markus the chef taught me about food and cooking would also apply to selling a business.

Markus believed that, independent of what you are cooking and what ingredients you have, you need to do the following to cook a great dish:

1) Have a plan or a recipe – An experienced chef often knows it by heart but rarely follows it verbatim.

2) Preparation – Have all the ingredients ready to go. Once you start cooking, you do not have time to prep.

3) Sequence – Certain steps need to be done before others. Carrots need to cook longer, and the oil should be in the pan and heated before the meat.

4) Attention to timing – Timing is critical. No one likes overcooked food.

5) Taste and season through every step – To get it perfect, you need to stop to taste and adjust throughout every step of the meal preparation.

6) Be creative – If you are missing an ingredient or you made a mistake during the process, don’t panic, be creative, ask the chef for advice.

 

As weird as it may sound, all these steps apply to a successful M&A transaction.

Have a plan or a recipe – Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you should have a defined plan with clear objectives in mind before you start the process.

Preparation – Once you start the process, things move fast, so being prepared and having information available is key to keeping momentum.

Sequence – One of the biggest mistakes novice M&A participants make is that they do things out of order, like talking to a buyer before having clear transaction objectives or having the right information prepared.

 

Attention to timing – Timing in an M&A process is critical, and is more of an art than a science. Each step in the process needs to be staged perfectly, balancing the need to maintain momentum while allowing buyers enough time to review material and perform analysis.

Taste and season through every step – Throughout the process, you need to listen to buyer commentary and questions so you can make mid-course corrections and adjustments.

Be creative – When things do not go as planned, you need to utilize your experience to find creative solutions or access experts to help out.

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One other thing that Markus taught me, and on occasion yelled: “If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (and leave it to the pros)!” This couldn’t be more true in the M&A world.

As M&A professionals, we are master chefs that know how to cook delicious M&A transactions.

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