When Bookatable met Michelin: Attracting acquisition from a large firm and staying true to the SME mission

Hire the best – and look after them

As an entrepreneur growing a business, pride yourself on seeking out, hiring and then retaining the best team members you can. SMEs are often a hive of talented individuals with a real sense of drive, which is extremely attractive to potential buyers.

It’s really important to harness this spirit before, during and after an acquisition as a team that is dedicated to delivering results will continue to raise the bar. Keeping a nimble and enthusiastic team will mean your business will keep the quick and reactive mentality which made your SME a success in the first place.

Don’t go in blind – set integration goals

The speed and ease with which teams integrate and start working together is often a determining factor in how successful an acquisition is. It’s important that your colleagues buy into the idea of the acquisition from the start and are happy to work towards achieving a bigger goal.

Taking the time to demonstrate how acquisition will help them to achieve their own team goals, as well as setting key milestones during the process will keep motivation levels high. A company that is excited about expansion and change is attractive, and in turn, this will keep the spirit of your original business alive when bigger budgets and increased resource allow your teams to flourish.

Take the time to meet and greet

By their nature, a willingness to try something new is innate in small businesses. Being a market leader and disrupting your industry will get you noticed by investors. When you’re faced with a bigger business in an acquisition process, your team may worry that they will be faced with a slower and more risk averse parent company which will slow them down.

Taking the time to arrange face to face meetings with your team and the buyer’s team will give your colleagues confidence that their culture will not be affected, and they can maintain independence.

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum arranged time for his team to meet Mark Zuckerberg during the Facebook acquisition process, which successfully secured their buy in.

Taking these points into account will help ensure that your business is attractive to larger companies, as well as encourage a smooth post-acquisition transition allowing you to retain the SME mindset and integral values of your business.

Joe Steele is the CEO at Bookatable

If you’re not yet at the acquisition stage, ecommerce and exports are increasing business growth confidence of UK SMEs.

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