Small Businesses on Private Equity’s Radar?

A few days ago, I chatted with a founder in the medical field who turned down a private equity offer to acquire his business. Today, a founder of an automotive business reached out to me and shared that someone in private equity inquired about buying his firm. Neither of these founders had their companies up for sale. The private equity firms found them.

These two stories are anecdotal, but they align with what I’ve been hearing from other investors. Large pools of capital have been raised by private equity to buy relatively small, profitable businesses.

Small businesses represent a great investment opportunity. Their size, usually $10m in annual revenue or less, means there’s ample room to grow revenue if their market is big. Their operations may not be very efficient and may rely heavily on the owner, so technology and better processes can enable these businesses to grow while increasing profit margins. Last, because these businesses are small, valuations are low because there are (or were) fewer potential buyers (i.e., less competition).