First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… acquisition? At Project NOSH LA, Michael Sands, EVP of Innovation and Brand Development at B&G Foods, compared the process of finding a strategic partner to dating and revealed what steps are required to ensure that the relationship ends in a happy “marriage.”
Step one, said Sands, is to “Always be open to sale, you never know.” How do you meet these people? Put effort and time into building the relationship, look for potential strategic partners at conferences, trade shows and business trips, and make time for coffee, dinner or a meeting.
Even if you’re a young company, start “dating” now so that when you want to settle down, you’ve got options, Sands said. However, be aware that it can take time to find the right partner.
Making sure your company will be attractive to a prospective partner also requires good habits from the start. Sands especially emphasized starting a “data room” that contains an organized account of your financial records. Just as one might hire a dating coach, Sands says hiring a financial professional can help you with this step.
Sands also advises that companies should “have a sustainable business with a proven point of difference” and clearly identify why their product concept is on-trend and not a fad.
Once you’re ready to move from casual “dating” to a lasting relationship with just one strategic, Sands said that it’s critical to learn as much as possible about the person or company. Do they have proven success in your product category? Is there going to be a huge learning curve for them? Can they provide the operational or distribution expertise that you need and want?
“When you think about selling, and if you want your brand, or your baby to live on and go forward, and if you’re not going to stay at that company, you really gotta think about who you’re selling to and can they really handle what you have,” said Sands.
Watch Sands’ presentation from Project NOSH LA in its entirety in the following video: