There comes a time in business when you are going to need to expand. When you will be approached by someone to add to your business or when you approach a competitor to take over their business. The takeover and growth mean you are finally successful, that the blood, sweat, and tears you've lost over the growth and success of your company will be rewarded.
Once you have made the decision to expand, you will need to create contracts, perform your due diligence and make sure the deal is sound. That is best left to professionals. An attorney to draft your contracts, an accountant to make sure you can afford to complete the transaction, an appraiser to value the business you are either buying or selling and a banker to provide the financing.
The real work is in the negotiations. If you are selling your business you want to make sure you not only sell it at the right price but also that you are not being taken advantage of. If you are buying the business, you want to get the best deal you can get. Ideally, you are taking calculated risks and understand what your top and bottom lines are. This is quite difficult when you are emotionally involved in the transaction. Speed is not always the best thing when you are trying to make wise choices.
There may some deals that seem like no brainers, you get in and get out and make some quick cash. These deals may not require much effort for maximum return, but those deals are much harder to come by. Rarely will you find a buyer or seller who will agree to all your terms and allow you to get exactly what you want. That deal is a unicorn and should be jumped at without negotiations.
The deal that takes more effort and will likely be a much larger undertaking. This deal should be nurtured and negotiated. You will want to take your time and perform all of your due diligence, hire professionals and make sure you can get exactly what you want and need.
Rules of thumb for negotiations if you decide to go it alone without an attorney:
Make a plan for yourself that you do not share with anyone else
Decide a place that you can start your negotiations, leave room above your offer and below that allows for offers and counteroffers to flow
Be firm in your bottom line
Trust your gut and if something seems a little off, it probably is. You are never locked into a negotiation, walk away when it no longer suits your plan or your needs
Make sure you have non-disclosure agreements in place for all parties involved in the negotiation to ensure there are no secrets shared
Know the value of your assets and debts so you can speak articulately about your business and support your position on price and quality.
When in doubt, hire an attorney.