Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
The Failing State of Small Business
The Role of Mergers and Acquisitions Amidst the Pandemic
Small business owners who are running completely out of options (and in many cases, running out of hope) are going out of business in droves, crushed by the weight of the pandemic and without the support of an effective government.
The last thing many business owners are thinking about right now is buying a business. With so much uncertainty in the marketplace, even global brands such as Boeing have stopped their plan to acquire a major stake in Portuguese aerospace conglomerate Enbraer while open deals are on the table for companies such as Google Cloud, Nestle SA, BlackRock and Boohoo according the Harvard Business Review article, “What M&A Looks Like During the Pandemic.”
The pandemic has driven the climate for business deals to an all-time low. However, according to Fortune Magazine, “M&A is showing signs of life in the healthiest and least healthy sectors,” and the markets for business are beginning to come back. The article goes on to report that the deals are smaller, prices are lower, there are fewer of them, and private equity is playing a much larger role in getting the deals done – all which present an opportunity for them to buy distressed companies at a discount with the expectation of substantial returns at some point.
How does this impact small businesses?
According to Bloomberg’s article, “Small Businesses Are Dying by the Thousands — And No One Is Tracking the Carnage”, there are thousands of small businesses that are going bankrupt or are simply walking away as the economy is decimated by the prolonging pandemic. Thousands more are afraid that their firms won’t survive either and they will end up in the same fate. The loss in revenue and difficulty generating sales in their traditional format is just too much for these firms to bare.
An article in Inc. magazine, “How Change Offers New Opportunity for Buying a Business, During and After Covid-19,” shares how the Cares Act SBA subsidized loan program created an opportunity for some business owners to purchase companies that entrepreneurs may be trying to unload. As private equity financiers noted – it may be an opportunity time to purchase or partner with a struggling business at little to no money down and a delayed repayment schedule. Unfortunately, all funds have been distributed and there doesn’t seem to be a plan in place to revive it.
While struggling companies such as JC Penny, Brook Brothers and Lucky Brand are at least being considered for acquisition as they face or have faced bankruptcy, most small businesses and small business owner are simply not in the position to be able to outlast the devastation that the pandemic is causing. The market simply isn’t there for many smaller retailers, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and other businesses to survive in their traditional format.
Many companies that could potentially have a greater online presence simply don’t have the technical expertise or level of support to make the transition. The potential problem right now is this: should there be a resurgence and a secondary shelter in place or national quarantine, these companies are going to be in desperate positions.
It would be my hope that governments would focus on developing solutions for its growing number of unemployed citizens, whether they had traditional W-2 employment, they were contractors or business owners. One would think that living in the wealthiest nation on earth would provide greater support in a time such as this. One would have thought that we had the power to better protect the country from getting to its present state.
However, that is not the case. Small businesses are not being purchased. They are not successfully partnering up to any great extent. They are not restructuring under chapter 11 because they have no customers who will bring in revenue to support the restructure.
These businesses are simply going away in the wealthiest, most powerful nation on Earth. And it is a travesty.
Business Catalyst Masterclass
To give back to the small business community, we have developed the Business Catalyst Program to help you retrench, move your company forward, and bridge the gap from where you are today to where you want to go.
We still have a few spots left for the catalyst program. Register through this link, then once we review your application, we’ll let you know if your business qualifies for it.