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Business Acquisition Plan: What to Include in 2024 (+ Template)

Kison Patel
Kison Patel

Kison Patel is the Founder and CEO of DealRoom, a Chicago-based diligence management software that uses Agile principles to innovate and modernize the finance industry. As a former M&A advisor with over a decade of experience, Kison developed DealRoom after seeing first hand a number of deep-seated, industry-wide structural issues and inefficiencies.

CEO and Founder of M&A Science and FirmRoom

A business acquisition plan is an important component of planning for an M&A transaction, regardless of whether you require external financing. A solid business acquisition plan should lay out the rationale for the investment, and how it will add value for the entity. In this article, FirmRoom takes a closer look at how these documents should be crafted.

Understanding Business Acquisition Plan

A business acquisition plan is a strategy document, which serves the purpose of a business plan for an M&A transaction.

Business Acquisition Plan

It outlines the motives behind a transaction, profiles of the companies involved in the transaction, how the transaction will generate value for the entity which is driving it, how the two companies will be integrated, and how the merged company (or simply acquired company in the case of an investment firm acquiring a company) is expected to perform.

Reasons to Have a Business Acquisition Plan

An acquisition plan provides its users with a roadmap to making the transaction a success. Even before the transaction is initiated, it acts as a reminder to the sponsors, what they’re looking for, why they’re looking for it, and how they’re going to ensure that the transaction is a success.

In general terms, the reasons to have a business acquisition plan are:

Strategic alignment

The overriding goal of a business acquisition plan, as the opening text alludes to, is strategic alignment: ensuring that those undertaking the deal, for lack of a better expression, ‘stick to the plan’, around the motives and means for making the deal a success.

Valuation and pricing

The plan should include strategies and methodologies for valuing the target company. It should guide the deal participants on how to determine a fair value for the target, assess synergies, and estimate future financial returns. It also sets a limit on how much the company can extend itself financially for a deal to occur.

Financing and resource allocation

Financing (sources and uses of funds) is just one part of the resource allocation conundrum. The business acquisition plan also outlines the working capital needs, who works where, how expenditures are going to shift, what capital assets are required, and more.

Business Acquisition Plan Template

The insight that FirmRoom has gained from working with hundreds of companies on thousands of transaction, have been collated in a business acquisition plan template.

This provides a detailed roadmap of what should be included in an effective business acquisition plan, ensuring that its users have everything in place for the conclusion of a successful transaction.


Creating a Business Acquisition Plan Step-by-Step

While developing a business acquisition plan is recommended, having an ineffective acquisition plan is worse than having none at all.

The document has to be watertight, creating no doubt in the reader’s mind about the benefits of an acquisition.

inclusion of business acquisition plan

A strong business acquisition plan should make the reader think that it makes far more sense to go ahead with the transaction than for the company to continue in the status quo.

That being said, the following should only be seen as a rough step-by-step guide to putting together a business acquisition plan:

Strategy development

Best practice:

  • Identify where the company wants to be in each of the next five years, possibly on a month-by-month basis, and how it plans to get there. See here for example.
  • Identify the key performance indicators that need to be tracked to ensure that the company meets these objectives.
  • Based on both of the above, ask whether an acquisition is a crucial part of the company achieving those objectives, before moving forward.

Identifying and evaluating target companies

Best practice:

  • Understand where the companies that fit into the strategy will be found, and be thorough and objective in the search for them.
  • Be realistic about the companies that can be acquired/merged with, including valuations,  so as not to waste resources for other companies and your own.
  • Remember that just because a company is the only one that’s available, it doesn’t mean that a transaction is a good idea.

Due Diligence

Best practice:

  • Use technology; any M&A practitioner that decides against using a sound technology platform for due diligence is doomed to failure.
  • Adopt a mindset where due diligence is considered an investment in the acquisition, rather than a cost to your own company;
  • Do not fall for the M&A acquirer’s fallacy of ‘we’ve come this far, so we can’t go back.’ If due diligence says the deal isn’t right, it isn’t.
  • Begin the post-merger integration phase as soon as the deal begins to look like a realistic possibility (something which DealRoom is designed to cater for).

Deal structure and negotiation

Best practice:

  • Leverage the findings of due diligence to create a more informed negotiation process.
  • Remember that there will be back and forth with the seller, and they can be reasonably expected to overvalue their asset.
  • Consider all market outcomes (i.e. downturns, current value of stock vs. future value, etc.) when creating an offer. Avoid irrational exuberance.

Post merger integration (PMI)

Best practice:

  • Keep in mind at all times during the PMI phase that this is where most of the value can be generated and lost in a transaction.
  • As mentioned, begin the process as soon as possible. If the transaction is visible on the horizon, you need to start thinking about its integration.
  • Don’t write this off as a ‘soft’ or unnecessary part of the transaction - it won’t be soft when it impacts on your income statement.

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a business acquisition plan

Despite plenty of advice to the contrary, enthusiastic CXOs often write acquisition plans which fail to avoid the pitfalls.

These are among the most common:

Putting the acquisition before the strategy

The acquisition is part of the overall strategy, not the other way around. Companies that are approached by others about a deal, and then somehow convince themselves that there is a strong rationale for a deal, fall foul to this backwards logic.

Management hubris

M&A is an area ripe with management hubris (take a glance at Google Scholar at all the academic texts that link the two). That means management hubris inevitably finds its way into business acquisition plans. Avoid it at all costs - it’s a highly costly behavioural pattern for companies of all sizes.

Lack of detail

The business acquisition plan is a strategy document, not a marketing one. That is to say, it should break down in a step-by-step fashion how the deal will generate value. The more detailed the better. “Creating an outstanding organization” is great, but writing it in the business acquisition plan won’t add any value.

Business acquisition plan template

A business acquisition plan is a hugely worthwhile document that all M&A practitioners should write in order to discern the value of a transaction and how that value can be extracted. It is the business plan for an M&A transaction.

Get your free template below to receive guidelines on how to create the document and make it work for your transaction.

business acquisition plan template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Key takeaways

Successful acquisition starts with a great plan

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