The process of taking over another company can be a very exciting time for you and your business, but it can very quickly turn into an unpleasant experience with serious lasting consequences. Here are some of the biggest mistakes made by companies during takeovers:
- Inadequate due diligence – You need to have done extensive research into the finances, existing contracts and liabilities of the company you are buying in order to avoid lawsuits, extra expenditure or loss of sales.
- Ignoring the culture of the target- If you underestimate the importance of culture then you are likely to experience some clashes, as no two companies will ever seamlessly fit together. To avoid misunderstandings and conflict from the beginning it is best if you set down a clear and consistent policy favouring the dominant culture.
- Forgetting to keep customers informed – You will need to reassure customers that the takeover is in their best interests because your competitors will attempt to unsettle them during this period.
- Failing to retain key employees – It is possible that competitors will also try to steal your best employees at this time by playing on insecurities they have about their own future within the company. You must reassure them and also be forthcoming about job cuts because an atmosphere of uncertainty will lead to false rumours spreading.
- Overpaying for target – Do not get carried away and end up paying far above the market value of the target, especially in e-business where it can be easy to over-estimate the value of a company because of the amount of potential you believe to be there.
- Bad leadership – Without a clear and powerful leader to drive the takeover forward it will stagnate. Make sure that if you are creating a combined managerial team from the two companies everybody is sure of their role.
- Not understanding foreign markets – A cross-border merger can easily fail if you simply assume that things are the same in another country. Legislation or consumer attitudes towards products and advertising can be vastly different.
- Poor IT integration – This process is never as simple as just swapping one IT system for another. In order for the transition to go smoothly it will require a lot of planning.
- Failed brand consolidation – It will be important for you to have a clear idea of how you want to manage the new brands you acquire. Maintaining a brand can be expensive in marketing terms so you may wish to drop some entirely.
- Mis-timing the takeover process – You will need to get the timescale just right in order to be successful. Rushing to completion could ultimately result in a poor merger with aspects overlooked, but going too slowly will only extend the period of upheaval further.
The best advice for completing a takeover successfully is to consider all the areas that could potentially go wrong and make sure you have a comprehensive action plan to guide the company through this period.
Hat-tip to Robert Moore from Business Data International Limited