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Mergers and takeovers are times when things change, and they bring new chances for business owners. When getting ready for a merger or takeover, you need to think about some important steps and things.

What is the Difference Between a Merger and an Acquisition?

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are when companies change ownership or come together with other companies. We often talk about them together, but they are not the same.

Mergers happen when two similar-sized businesses join to become one new company. This can be a good way to combine resources and become bigger in the market.

Acquisitions are when one company takes over another and becomes the new owner. Legally, when a company is acquired, it stops existing. People often do acquisitions to get the customers, contracts, and processes of a rival or a business that offers services that they didn’t have before.

Many business owners, from startups to established companies, might get bought at some point. Buying a business is a good chance for business owners to get money that they can use to start a new venture. This happens a lot in the tech industry. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google often buy smaller startups when they become well-known in the industry. Whether you want to sell your business completely or keep working in the new company, this guide can help you make a plan and increase your chances of success.

How to Get Ready for a Merger or Acquisition

1. Keep Secrets with a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

The first step when you’re getting ready for a merger or acquisition is to make an NDA. An NDA is a special contract that makes sure that secret information stays secret. It’s a good idea to have the NDA signed before you talk to possible buyers or merger partners. When you’re talking about an acquisition, you might also want to add rules about not trying to hire each other’s employees.

2. Get Legal Advice

It’s smart to get a lawyer’s help to make sure your NDA works and is legally binding. The other people involved will probably want your company’s leaders to sign their NDA too. A lawyer can check the NDA to make sure you’re not agreeing to things that your company can’t do.

Even if you don’t bring a lawyer into the early talks, it’s really important to get experienced M&A lawyers when you’re ready to sell or merge companies. It might sound obvious, but everyone involved should have their own lawyer to protect their interests. Don’t rely on advice from the other side’s lawyer; they’re working for their client, not you.

3. Have an M&A Team for Negotiations

When you’re getting ready for a merger or acquisition, it’s a good idea to make a special team to handle it. This team should have people from your company’s leadership who can talk about the terms of the deal. The team should also take care of reports, find potential problems, and help make decisions at each step of the merger or acquisition. Having a team like this can reduce risks, do financial analysis, and eventually close the deal at the end. A great way to sell a company is to have an auction to get the best terms or price. When you’re selling, always ask your lawyer to write the first version of the merger or acquisition agreement.

4. Start with a Letter of Intent

A buyer will usually start by making a letter of intent, which might include a period of 30-60 days where only they can make a deal. It’s better for the seller to have a shorter period and really clear terms about the price, how the money is held, promises, what’s being sold, and who’s responsible if something goes wrong.

5. Keep Running the Business

The merger or acquisition will take time, and it can be a distraction for the people running the business and the employees. But the business has to keep going as usual and try to meet its goals. The buyer or merger partner will closely watch the business’s finances to make sure it’s doing as well as you said it would. If you’re merging, your business needs to do the same to make sure the other company can do what it promised.