- Identifying the Right Business Mentor
- Leveraging a Mentor’s Experience and Connections
- Maintaining the Mentorship After an Acquisition
- Mentoring Accelerates Your Growth
Building a startup is hard work. Only 13.5 percent of entrepreneurs say they have a healthy work-life balance, and planning for acquisition can make it harder to stay on top of things.
Getting acquired can sometimes feel like a lonely climb, but advice from experienced professionals can help. While the Acquire.com customer success team helps you sell when the time is right, a business mentor can help you prepare for acquisition years in advance.
Ninety-two percent of business owners say mentorship directly impacts their growth, which could lead to a better valuation when you’re ready to get acquired.
Business mentors can also offer valuable advice, connections for investment or acquisition and support your startup’s success. Not only that, business mentors are a sounding board, offering you the clarity and confidence you need to grow and eventually sell your business.
However, finding the right mentor, building a relationship with them, and leveraging their experience and connections can take time and effort.
In this post, we will explain how to find a business mentor to help your startup get acquired.
Identifying the Right Business Mentor
When reaching out to potential mentors who can support you with getting acquired, following a process rather than randomly contacting people you admire will help you find a better fit for your business.
The following steps can help you search for a business mentor.
1. Identify What Acquisition Help You Need
Before looking for the perfect mentor for your business, ask yourself what challenges you face with getting acquired, and how an experienced entrepreneur can help you overcome them. Do you want to attract strategic buyers? Is your valuation as good as it can be?
Understanding your needs before reaching out to potential mentors for help with acquisition will result in a concise pitch and get your mentorship relationship off to a great start.
To understand what you want from a mentoring relationship, go back to your business plan, list your most important goals for getting acquired, and prioritize them.
Think deeply about what you want to achieve from your acquisition. Then figure out how a mentor can help you make the critical business decisions to get you to that goal.
Ask your potential mentor about companies they’ve acquired or how they go about the due diligence process to help you determine whether or not they have the right experience for your startup.
2. How to Find a Mentor: Do Your Research
Asking a successful entrepreneur to mentor you because they had a big exit or got a lot of press isn’t the best way to find the right mentor. They might not be interested in a mentoring program and may not have business experience with a relevant product or industry.
Be specific if you’re serious about finding a mentor with acquisition experience. Look for people who started similar companies to yours that got acquired recently. Research potential mentors with experience and connections with people who’ve sold similar businesses. Choose mentors who can share the exact steps they took to sell their businesses instead of choosing mentors on their press and social media followers.
When we were starting up our first Virgin businesses, we would simply find someone who was already running a business in the industry we were hoping to enter and asked them if he’d be willing to spare some time to give us advice. It really was that simple.Richard Branson
Where can you find a good mentor in your industry?
- Start with word-of-mouth referrals to see if anyone in your professional network knows someone looking for a mentee.
- Try in-person networking events and a Meetup relevant to your industry and get talking the old-fashioned way.
- Check out potential mentors in your field on mentoring platforms like GrowthMentor. The platform gives you access to hundreds of vetted top startup mentors willing to share their expertise (often for free). You can find a match by filtering the mentors by industry and skills.
- Check LinkedIn for people talking about startup acquisition, acquisition mentorship, or startup funds.
- Potential mentors might be active on other social media platforms like Twitter. If you find someone relevant, don’t be afraid to reach out.
If your goal is to get your startup acquired, you’ll want to search for mentors with acquisition experience. You can also contact the Acquire.com customer success team and review the blog to learn how the acquisition process works.
3. How to Approach Potential Mentors
When you start building a mentoring relationship, clarify your intentions.
When asking for acquisition mentoring, tell your potential mentor in the first conversation. That way, you’ll build trust, and the mentor will know why you seek their help.
Contact candidates via your preferred channel with a clear and concise proposal to respect your potential mentor’s time. Nobody wants to read a rambling 10-page document about your startup.
For inspiration on what to write to potential mentors via email or on LinkedIn, check out these “How to Ask Someone to be Your Mentor” templates.
If you’re serious about working with a mentor, commit time and effort to building the relationship.
A mentor isn’t there to tell you exactly what to do, provide business advice, or hand you an acquisition playbook (though Acquire.com can certainly help with the latter). They are there to help you think more deeply about your current problems and discuss potential solutions and the steps you’ll take to implement them.
The mentor-mentee relationship is two-sided, and regular communication will help you get the most out of the mentorship. Being ready to learn, open to constructive criticism, feedback, and guidance will also help you get what you need and achieve your ultimate acquisition goal.
Be accountable for the progress of your startup. If your mentor suggests a course of action, execute it and provide them with feedback on how it went. Showing them you’re serious about their advice will reflect well on your business and open new networking opportunities.
Leveraging a Mentor’s Experience and Connections
You’ve done your research, chosen someone with acquisition experience, reached out, and they’ve agreed to be your mentor. So use their expertise to the maximum!
How? Turn up to your mentoring session with a list of questions on the acquisition process. Asking vague, broad questions like “How do I get acquired?” will show you have not researched the process.
You want to build mutual respect and trust in your mentor-mentee relationship. Prove to your mentor that you’re also doing the work and aren’t expecting to sit back while they tell you what to do next.
Since you want the maximum value at exit, consider how you might increase your valuation, and ask your mentor for advice in setting achievable targets.
Connect With Potential Acquirers
Listing your business for sale on Acquire.com gives you instant access to over 200,000 vetted buyers. You don’t need to waste your time tracking down people who may be interested in buying your business. They come directly to you.
Once you have some interest from potential buyers, a mentor can offer their advice on the buyer’s feasibility. Depending on your acquisition goals, not everyone will be an appropriate buyer. This is where a mentor’s experience can be invaluable – they have experience with getting acquired and can help you make the right decision.
Ask for Introductions
You chose this mentor because they’re well-connected to relevant industry contacts and investors. Use their network to help build your startup to an eventual exit on Acquire.com.
Getting your name in the press will pique the interest of potential acquirers. If you already have a vast network of potential investors and chose your mentor for their PR connections, use their knowledge and connections to help build credibility for your startup.
Ask for Support With Negotiation
The negotiation part of an acquisition is notoriously long-winded.
Luckily for you, your acquisition mentor has been there before and knows the ins and outs of the acquisition process. They can advise you on technicalities such as your acquirer’s letter of intent (initial offer) and other legal stages of the acquisition.
Your lawyer can help you with this, but don’t hesitate to ask your mentor to be a sounding board during the negotiation. They have the experience and are willing to share it.
Maintaining the Mentorship After an Acquisition
Building a relationship with a mentor to leverage their knowledge and network and then never speak to them again isn’t how a mentoring relationship works.
Maintain mutual respect by keeping your mentor informed and involved throughout the acquisition process. If you’re in touch with one of their connections about acquisitions, make them aware and show appreciation for their guidance and support.
I get to talk 1-on-1 to pretty much celebrities in my industry. I feel really privileged to just be in touch with some of these people, not to mention to get business advice from them.Ena Mandic, Head of Customer Success at Lemlist.com
Continue to seek their advice and support as you integrate into the acquiring company – your mentor likely did this at some point too. They can help you navigate the bumps in the road that come with the transition.
Your mentor’s expertise doesn’t stop at the point of acquisition. They will have plenty more knowledge to share about what comes next. Building a long-term relationship with them can benefit your future endeavors.
Mentoring Accelerates Your Growth
By following the above steps, you can identify the right mentor, build a strong relationship with them, and leverage their experience and connections to get your startup acquired.
Finding the right mentor is not an overnight process. It requires effort, patience, and persistence. Be clear about your needs and goals from the offset, do your research, be prepared to work to make the most of the mentorship, and you’ll get the acquisition your startup deserves.
The content on this site is not intended to provide legal, financial, or M&A advice. It is for information purposes only, and any links provided are for your convenience. Please seek the services of an M&A professional before entering into any M&A transaction. It is not Acquire’s intention to solicit or interfere with any established relationship you may have with any M&A professional.