Are you considering a leveraged buyout (LBO)?

This popular investment strategy - even if you're a small business owner or entrepreneur - can be a great way to acquire a business and maximize your returns.

However, it's important to be aware of the risks involved, particularly when it comes to paying too much for the acquisition.

In this article, we'll dive into the dangers of overpaying and how to avoid them.

Optimistic Projections

One of the biggest reasons why people overpay for an acquisition is because they are overly optimistic about the future prospects of the business. This is a natural tendency when you're excited about a potential investment, but it's important to temper your expectations and be conservative in your projections.

I recommend valuing the business off of the current or previous year's cash flow, rather than assuming significant growth in the future.

This approach may seem overly cautious, but it can actually help you avoid major losses down the road. By being realistic about the business's current value, you can make more informed decisions about how much you're willing to pay for it.

And if your conservative projections turn out to be too low, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the additional profits you're able to generate.

Not Understanding Valuation

Another common mistake when it comes to LBOs is not fully understanding how to value a business.

Valuations are typically done using the discounted cash flow method, which assumes that most of the cash flow will be generated in the future and is therefore tied up in what's called the terminal value, the value of the cash flows after 5-10 years.

However, this can be dangerous in the current low-interest rate environment. If interest rates rise, the value of your investment could drop by 30% or more using this method.

To avoid this pitfall, I recommend using multiple valuation methods to get a more accurate picture of the business's worth. This might include using the price-to-earnings & cash flow ratios and comparing the business to similar companies in the industry.

By using a variety of tools, you can better understand the true value of the business and make a more informed decision about how much to pay for it.

An Antidote: Buying Boring Businesses

One of the best ways to avoid overpaying for an acquisition is to focus on buying boring businesses with simple cash flow and sticky customer relationships.

These businesses may not be the most glamorous, but they can provide a stable and reliable source of income over the long term. By avoiding businesses that are heavily dependent on one product or customer, you can reduce your risk and ensure that you're making a smart investment.


Leveraged buyouts can be a great way to acquire a business and maximize your returns, but they come with significant risks.

One of the biggest dangers is overpaying for the acquisition, which can lead to major losses down the road. To avoid this pitfall, it's important to be conservative in your projections, understand valuation, and focus on buying boring businesses with stable cash flow.

By following these tips, you can better manage the risks associated with LBOs and make a smart investment that pays off in the long run.

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